Russia issues security guarantee to Arsenal fans

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates (Reuters)
Updated 17 March 2018
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Russia issues security guarantee to Arsenal fans

MOSCOW: Russia has issued a security guarantee to Arsenal fans who will visit Moscow for a Europa League clash in the heat of a diplomatic crisis over an ex-double agent’s poisoning.
Moscow on Saturday announced the expulsion of 23 British diplomats in a tit-for-tar response to London’s “provocative” measures over the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England.
Britain issued a travel warning to people in or planning to travel to Russia after expelling the same number of Moscow diplomats on Wednesday.
And Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Friday said it was “overwhelmingly likely” that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered the attack.
The Kremlin called his comments “shocking and unforgivable.”
All of which has left Arsenal fans alarmed about the prospects of playing CSKA in Moscow on April 12 for the second leg of their Europe League quarter-final.
One Arsenal supporters’ group called it “a hot potato of a draw in view of the political stand-off.”
The club itself reposted on its website a Foreign Office travel advisory warning of possible “anti-British sentiment or harassment.”
Russia’s World Cup organizing committee chief Alexei Sorokin expressed disappointment about the tensions and said Arsenal fans have nothing to fear.
“It is a shame that the games will be played in such circumstance,” said Sorokin, who is also a senior member of the Russian Football Union.
“We will ensure security in equal measures to all — from dignitaries to fans,” Sorokin told TASS.
But he also expressed a hint of annoyance at Arsenal’s decision to put up the Foreign Office travel advisory after Friday’s Europa League draw.
“To us, there is no difference which country people come from or what our diplomatic relations with them are,” he said.
“There are absolutely no grounds for such warnings.”
Sorokin has been fighting an uphill battle to clean up Russia’s image ahead of its first World Cup at home.
The June 14 to July 15 tournament has been associated closely with Vladimir Putin ever since the Russian strongman wrested the hosting rights away from England in 2010.
Organizers are keen to resolve all the controversies and the poisoning case does not help.
Preparations have already been shadowed by concerns ranging from racism to hooliganism and doping that saw Russia perform at the Pyeongchang Winter Games under a neutral Olympic flag.
British Prime Minister Theresa May decided to give the World Cup itself a snub by announcing that royals and ministers would not be attending.
A boycott by the England team is thought unlikely despite wide-ranging speculations about it in the media and support from some British MPs.


Jabeur becomes first Tunisian woman to make WTA final

Updated 19 October 2018
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Jabeur becomes first Tunisian woman to make WTA final

  • Jabeur, ranked 101st in the world and who came through qualifying, prevailed over Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
  • In Saturday’s final, Jabeur will face sixth-seeded Daria Kasatkina of Russia, last year’s runner-up, who put out Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-3.

MOSCOW: Ons Jabeur made history on Friday when she became the first Tunisian woman to reach a WTA final by seeing off Latvian fifth seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.
Jabeur, ranked 101st in the world and who came through qualifying, prevailed in one hour 37 minutes.
“This is really amazing and I’m really happy. I gave it all today, and it wasn’t easy because she plays really good,” said 24-year-old Jabeur, who unleashed 45 winners on her way to victory.
“Maybe I was too relaxed in the second set. At the end, I stayed calm. It was a little bit frustrating because I missed some easy balls, but I said I was just going to play my game, and if it goes, it goes.”
In Saturday’s final, Jabeur will face sixth-seeded Daria Kasatkina of Russia, last year’s runner-up, who put out Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-3.
“They’re both playing good, so I hope they fight for four hours,” Jabeur had said. “The best win is that there is a Tunisian in the final.”
Jabeur lost her only career meeting against Kasatkina at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“She (Jabeur) plays interesting tennis with plenty of drop shots, often advances to the net,” Kasatkina said.
“Everything is possible in tomorrow’s final and I will just come onto the court and try to play my best.”
In the ATP event, France’s Adrian Mannarino ended Egor Gerasimov’s run beating the Belarus qualifier 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 to set up a semifinal with Italy’s Andreas Seppi, who ousted fourth seeded Serb Filip Krajinovic 6-4, 7-6 (7/2).
Second seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia beat last year’s runner-up Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 will face third-seeded compatriot Karen Khachanov, who saw off Mirza Basic of Bosnia 6-2, 7-6 (7/5).