Al-Hilal face fight to keep star Syrian Omar Khribin

Syria and Al-Hilal forward Omar Khribin was named Asian Player of the Year in 2017
Updated 08 February 2018
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Al-Hilal face fight to keep star Syrian Omar Khribin

LONDON: Saudi Arabian giants Al-Hilal are set to face an end-of-season fight to keep hold of Omar Khribin with a number of Chinese Super League clubs mulling over a summer move for the Syrian star.
Big-spending Hebei CFFC, Shanghai Shenhua and Tianjin Quanjian are in the running to sign one of the Middle East’s hottest properties in the summer transfer window with Arab News understanding that the 24-year-old is open to a move east.
Al-Hilal signed the forward on a permanent deal in January 2017, for around $11.5 million. His performances have gone from strength to strength ever since, for both club and country.
“A fee of around $15 million is being talked about, though it would take place in the summer at the earliest,” a senior official at the Syrian Football Association told Arab News.
Khribin spearheaded Syria’s attempt to qualify for this summer’s World Cup, and his performances on the Road to Russia, as well in as the 2017 AFC Champions League, have won him plenty of admirers in Beijing, Shanghai and elsewhere.
In the final round of qualification, Syria were placed in the same group as China and performed well, narrowly missing out on an automatic spot in Russia to finish third behind South Korea, before losing in a playoff to Australia.
Khribin was the leading goal scorer in the AFC Champions League, scoring 10 goals as the Riyadh giants reached the final only to lose narrowly to Urawa Reds of Japan in November.
Such form saw him named Asian Player of the Year, beating off strong competition from China’s own Wu Lei and Omar Abdulraham of the UAE.
“There are a number of Chinese clubs looking at the situation,” a leading Chinese agent told Arab News.
“Some already have a full quota of foreign players so the summer transfer window would be the earliest they could make a move, though there is also the possibility of waiting until the end of the season.”
It has become more difficult for Chinese Super League teams to sign foreign players for more than $7 million, after the implementation of the so-called “transfer tax” in 2017. Clubs that are in debt must pay an amount equal to the transfer fee into a football development fund.
Khribin would not be the first Syrian in the league. Firas Khatib signed for Shanghai Shenhua in 2013 and earned plenty of fans with his goals and all round attacking play in the season-and-a-half spell in China’s commercial capital.
Al-Hilal declined to comment.


FIVE OTHER ARABS WHO COULD SHINE IN CHINA

OMAR AL-SOMA: Another Syrian forward who plays his club football in Saudi Arabia and also has lots of admirers across Asia. Chinese clubs are perhaps the only ones able to afford his talents.

ALI MABKHOUT: The 27-year-old striker has spent his entire career with Al-Jazira in the UAE. He could be tempted east by the prospect of a new challenge.

FAHAD AL-MUWALLAD: The exciting winger has been sent to Spain for some La Liga experience with Levante, and once that stint is over, his exciting talents would go down well in China.

MOHAMED ELNENY: The defensive midfielder has been with Arsenal since 2016, but while the Eygptian has made more than 30 appearances for the Gunners, he is not an automatic starter.

HUMAM TARIQ: The talented Iraqi playmaker has been around for years despite being just 21. He lacks a little consistency and a move to China could do him good.


Trump pardons boxer Jack Johnson, first black heavyweight champ

Updated 24 May 2018
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Trump pardons boxer Jack Johnson, first black heavyweight champ

  • Trump said Johnson, the ‘Galveston Giant,’ was the victim of what ‘many viewed as a racially motivated injustice.’
  • Johnson, whose consensual relationship with a white woman was seen then by many as taboo, fled to Europe but returned in 1920 and spent a year in prison.

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Thursday issued a posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, who was sent to prison a century ago in a racially charged case.
Trump said Johnson, the “Galveston Giant,” was the victim of what “many viewed as a racially motivated injustice.”
Johnson, who held the heavyweight title from 1908-15, was convicted by an all-white jury in 1913 of taking a woman across state lines for “immoral purposes.”
Johnson, whose consensual relationship with a white woman was seen then by many as taboo, fled to Europe but returned in 1920 and spent a year in prison.
Johnson died in a car crash in 1946 at the age of 68.
Trump signed the pardon at a ceremony in the Oval Office attended by “Rocky” actor Sylvester Stallone, current WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and former champion Lennox Lewis.
“Today as president, I’ve issued an executive grant of clemency, a full pardon, posthumously to John Arthur Jack Johnson,” Trump said. “The first African American heavyweight champion of the world, a truly great fighter.”
Trump said the conviction “occurred during a period of tremendous racial tension in the United States more than a century ago” and that Johnson had a “very tough life.”
Senator John McCain and other members of Congress and celebrities such as Stallone, who portrayed Rocky Balboa in the movie “Rocky,” have long fought for a pardon for Johnson.
“This was very important to Sylvester Stallone, my friend for a long time,” Trump said.
Linda Haywood, a great-great niece of Johnson, also attended the White House pardon ceremony.
McCain, who has been ailing as he battles brain cancer, welcomed the move.
“This action finally rights a historical wrong, restores a great athlete’s legacy & closes a shameful chapter in our history,” McCain said in a tweet.
During the ceremony, Trump could not resist taking a jab at former president Barack Obama, saying it was “very disappointing for a lot of people” that his predecessor had not pardoned Johnson.
The pardon came just hours after Trump said American football players who refuse to stand for the national anthem “maybe shouldn’t be in the country.”
Most of the National Football League players who have taken part in the kneeling protests against police brutality have been African Americans.
Johnson was born March 31, 1878, in Galveston, Texas, and went 78-8 with 12 draws and 45 knockouts.
He took the heavyweight title on December 26, 1908 in Sydney when police stopped his fight against Tommy Burns in the 14th round after Johnson had beaten the Canadian into submission.
Johnson defended his crown nine times, notably in 1910 over former champion James J. Jeffries, who came out of retirement as “The Great White Hope,” in what was billed as “The Fight of the Century.”
Johnson beat Jim Flynn in 1912 in the first Las Vegas title fight, twice defended the crown in Paris, and then lost it at Havana in 1915 when Jess Willard knocked him out in the 26th round of the longest heavyweight title fight ever.