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?“


Premier League set to use VAR from next season

Updated 15 November 2018
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Premier League set to use VAR from next season

LONDON: The Premier League is set to use the Video Assistant Referee system from next season after clubs “agreed in principle” to the move on Thursday.
During a meeting attended by key members of all 20 Premier League clubs, officials were presented with an update on the non-live VAR trials taking place.
They were also given “key learnings” from VAR’s use in the FA Cup and League Cup this season.
VAR was used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where 335 incidents were checked by VAR officials, and is already underway in some other European leagues.
A formal Premier League request will now be made to the International Football Association Board and FIFA, the world governing body.
A statement from the Premier League said its testing program would continue for the rest of the season, “with a continued emphasis on those Saturday afternoons which have several matches being played concurrently.”
How VAR decisions are communicated to fans in the stadium will be addressed, with the development of a “clear protocol” to be established.
In April, Premier League clubs voted against the introduction of VAR for the 2018-19 season.
But there have been growing calls from managers and players for VAR to be introduced into the English top-flight for several years.
On Saturday, Southampton forward Charlie Austin called for VAR after he was denied a goal for offside against Watford, a decision he called a “joke.”
Also last weekend, Slavisa Jokanovic, since sacked as Fulham manager, was furious after Aleksandar Mitrovic was denied a goal by a controversial offside decision, with Liverpool going straight down the other end to take the lead.
VAR is used to check goals, penalties — both awarded and not, direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity when a player is wrongly booked or sent off.
The referee has the information relayed through his earpiece by the VAR team.
For some incidents, he can review the footage on a pitch-side television monitor before deciding whether to change his initial call.