Iraq summons Algerian envoy over pro-Saddam football chants

Spectators shouted the chants at an Arab Club Champions Cup game on Sunday between USM Alger and Iraq’s Air Force Athletic Club. (Reuters)
Updated 10 September 2018
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Iraq summons Algerian envoy over pro-Saddam football chants

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s foreign ministry said on Monday that it had summoned Algeria’s ambassador after the North African nation’s football supporters sang slogans glorifying former dictator Saddam Hussein during a game in Algiers.
In a statement, ministry spokesman Ahmed Mahjub voiced “the indignation of the government and the Iraqi people (at) the horrible glorification of the regime of murderous dictator Saddam Hussein.”
Saddam was deposed in 2003 by a US-led military intervention.
Spectators shouted the chants at an Arab Club Champions Cup game on Sunday between USM Alger and Iraq’s Air Force Athletic Club.
Videos filmed inside the stadium and posted online show Algerian supporters chanting “Allahu akbar (God is greatest)! Saddam Hussein!“
After 75 minutes of play, the Iraqi team left the pitch in protest.
Iraq’s football federation threatened to pull its teams out of the remainder of the competition and said it “opposed all extremist and sectarian slogans.”
“If the Arab Football Federation does not take a decision to restore... respect for Iraqi football, the Iraqi federation will withdraw its clubs,” Iraqi football federation president Abdel Khaleq Massud said in a statement.
Air Force Athletic Club coach Bassem Qassem accused the spectators of having “backward and extremist ideas.”
“We can’t accept the crowd insulting our country and our team,” he said in a video broadcast by Iraqi football officials.
“Why would we play in front of a sectarian crowd?“


UAE-based T10 League to help national side find future stars

Updated 21 September 2018
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UAE-based T10 League to help national side find future stars

  • Emirate Cricket Board backs plan to help UAE national side find more talent.
  • Second T10 League to increase to eight teams with star-name players returning.

DUBAI: The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) has backed the UAE-based T10 league’s Talent Hunt program designed to unearth stars for the national side.
ECB board member Zayed Abbas welcomed the league’s announcement that is hoped will only enhance the ECB’s own initiatives aimed at finding and developing both Emirati and expatriate players who can go on to represent the country.
Any talented players that emerge from the T10 programme will feed into the UAE’s four cricketing councils.
Abbas told Arab News: “Any talent hunt that takes place here that can feed into the national team is welcome. Once it takes place then our national development programme management and team will be involved with them to set the criteria and the activities and plans going forward.
“At the end of the day, the T10 League is an approved league in the UAE. Their activities and the league are approved by the ECB and ICC so any talent hunt programme of theirs is definitely part of the UAE cricket board’s agenda.”
Casting the net farther for fresh faces in the UAE national team has been an ongoing pursuit for the ECB and is even more necessary following the disappointment of Dougie Brown’s men failing to qualify for this year’s Asia Cup, taking place on home soil, which offered the potential to showcase the UAE team to the country’s enormous cricketing community.
Hong Kong qualified at their expense, and considering the similarities between Hong Kong and the UAE as expatriate dominated countries with a local population waiting to be engaged, it is a case of what might have been. The impact could have been significant had the packed crowds of Dubai been able to witness captain Rohan Mustafa and Co. go up against the likes of MS Dhoni.
The ECB’s support — sought well in advance of the announcement and following discussions that have been ongoing since the culmination of the inaugural edition last year — will come as a major boost to the chairman and founder of the T10 league, Shaji Ul-Mulk.
It is also the latest in a series of expansions to the second edition of the T10 League, due to take place from Nov. 23-2 Dec. Two new teams have already been added, taking the number of franchises to eight and the tournament will be played across 10 days rather than the four of last year in Sharjah.
England’s one-day captain Eoin Morgan will return to lead the Kerala Kings in the defence of their title and he will be joined by a star-studded cast in Rashid Khan, Shahid Afridi, Sunil Narine, Shoaib Malik, Brendon McCullum, Daren Sammy and Shane Watson.
They will be joined once again by two UAE players in each squad — and one in each matchday XI, a further reminder of the T10 League’s investment in UAE cricket.
“The global talent hunt is designed to unearth the unsung heroes from the cricketing world, especially India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh,” Ul-Mulk said.
“This programme will help the talent not only to get a job in the UAE and be able to display their cricketing skills at international level. The ECB is part of this programme and the good top-class cricketers will have a chance to play for the UAE national team.”
Mohammad Azharuddin and Wasim Akram have been announced as Talent Hunt directors and will oversee the searches in India and Pakistan respectively.
Abbas hopes that these ex-players-turned-scouts will add even greater gravitas to the T10’s plans to enrich the sport in the UAE and that the ECB’s own aim to grow the game among Emiratis is supported in everything T10 does.
“These players are considered legends of cricket so the more names you have at this level the better your product can get and the more successful you can get,” said Abbas of Azharuddin and Akram.
“These programmes are open for all, but the more effort (T10 organizers) put into the Emiratis (the) better for us because that will make a huge difference in the country’s national agenda and the sport’s agenda. 
“If you develop your own players there is nothing like it.”