Outgoing Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger predicts European Super League

Arsene Wenger feels football is heading towards a league featuring Europe's super powers. (AFP)
Updated 11 May 2018
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Outgoing Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger predicts European Super League

  • 'You will certainly have a European league over the weekends'
  • Wenger feels move will be money motivated

LONDON: Arsene Wenger predicts a European super league will be introduced over the next few years, leading to major changes for the Premier League.
The outgoing Arsenal boss believes Europe’s elite clubs will fight for the introduction of a continental, weekend league to challenge the success of the English top flight.
Wenger, 68, will leave the Emirates Stadium after a reign lasting almost 22 years when the season ends away to Huddersfield on Sunday.
But the Frenchman is predicting a huge overhaul of football in the near future, with Premier League fixtures relegated to midweek slots.
“The next evolution? Maybe I will see you in a few years and you will certainly have a European league over the weekends,” he said.
“A domestic league will certainly play Tuesday/Wednesday. I think that is the next step we will see.”
Wenger said the move was “inevitable” because the big clubs would want a bigger slice of the money that comes into football and would be less willing to share it with their smaller rivals.
The idea of a European league has been mooted for years and could be driven by dwindling Champions League attendances and the fact more revenue is demanded for the Premier League television rights than UEFA’s elite club competition.
“It will be soon because it is a way for other clubs to fight against the Premier League,” Wenger said.
The Arsenal boss predicted matches would take place at weekends to boost crowds.
“Look at the audiences of the Champions League,” he said. “There’s a contrast there because if you look at the audiences of the Champions League it is not fantastic.
“But if you have Real Madrid v Barcelona, or Real Madrid v Arsenal, or Manchester United v Bayern Munich every week the audiences will be good.”
Such a dramatic shift would mean major changes to the Premier League, said Wenger.
“If you want to make it more attractive you have to go down to 16 (teams),” he said. “And make a real competition of it. But it will be smaller if it goes to Europe.”


KSA’s martial arts heroine: ‘I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym’

Updated 19 March 2019
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KSA’s martial arts heroine: ‘I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym’

  • Young Saudi triumphant at Open International Tournament despite just two years of training
  • Zahra Al-Qurashi took the gold in the women’s 70 kg category, beating Jordanian Heba Wasfi

JEDDAH: Zahra Al-Qurashi never expected to be where she is today: A gold medal winner in full contact kickboxing at the Open International Tournament for Clubs aged just 21. What started out as a gym class two years ago soon turned into a passion, leading to her victory in Amman on Sunday.

“I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym. I found the class and gave it a try, and decided to keep attending the classes,” she said. “A year ago, I joined Flagboxing Gym, and started training with my coach Grethe (Kraugerud). With her help, I developed my style and I am improving every day.”

Full contact is a discipline of kickboxing where punches and kicks must be delivered to legal areas of the body. According to the World Association for Kickboxing Organizations’ rules, it is legal to attack the front of the head and front and side of the torso, using “ankle-level foot sweeps.” It is prohibited to attack the throat, lower abdomen, back, legs, joints, back of the head and top of the shoulders.

A medal at her first international competition, then, speaks volumes about Al-Qurashi’s tenacity. She took the gold in the women’s 70 kg category, beating Jordanian Heba Wasfi.

“As soon as I entered the ring, everything went blank, I couldn’t hear or see anyone but my opponent, so I don’t really recall hearing my name even,” said Al-Qurashi. “I got a couple of really good kicks and punches, but she was a good opponent. I was in my own zone though, following every move and made sure I didn’t make mistakes.”

Zahra Al-Quraishi, 21, is already a gold medal winner at an international event despite being a virtual rookie in the demanding sport of kickboxing. (Supplied photos)

Hala Al-Hamrani, the owner of Flagboxing Gym in Jeddah, said: “I am over the moon. I have dreamt about this happening for 16 years, ever since I started coaching. My goal was to eventually provide the ladies of this country with an opportunity to compete.”

For approximately two months, Kraugerud, from Norway, oversaw Al-Qurashi’s workouts, adding more sparring, interval training and intense ring practice.

“I’ve had Zahra spar with men, who are bigger and stronger than her, to give her a sense of what to expect in the ring, to give her more confidence and make her mentally prepared,” said Kraugerud. “I was very proud of her as she entered the ring, you could see the respect for the sport reflected in her. We did a really good job at Flag, we really pushed for this together as a team. She’s young, but she’s talented and she will go far.”

Al-Hamrani, a member of the Saudi Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Federation, added: “We got her ready by providing her with the right practice and training. It’s a dream come true and it’s very overwhelming because it was such a long process for something like this to happen. Zahra is an up-and-coming athlete who hopefully has a long future and I’m extremely excited to see what that future holds.”

Abdul Aziz Julaidan, chairman of the Saudi MMA Federation, hailed the result after a tough bout between the two competitors, and thanked Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sport Authority, for the support he had given to the team.

Upon returning to her hometown of Jeddah, Al-Qurashi was greeted by her mother. “I was hugging her and crying and mom, being mom, asked if I was crying because I got hit,” she laughed. “That was her way of saying: I’m proud of you.”