Mahmoud Ahmad, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Sat, 2004-12-25 03:00

JEDDAH, 25 December 2004 — Al-Ittihad soccer star Muhammad Nur, who was suspended by the Saudi Football Federation for one year, apologized Thursday night to Saudi Youth Welfare and SFF President Prince Sultan ibn Fahd.

Nur told a packed press conference held at Ittihad club here that he wanted to make clear his position regarding the suspension and that he fully accepted it.

He said that he was sorry that the Saudi national team exited the Gulf Cup competition. Nur also blamed the sport media for attacking him.

After speaking Nur hurriedly left leaving the president of Ittihad club, Mansour Al-Balawi, to continue the conference.

Mansour said that Ittihad club respects the decisions made by the SFF top brass. He added the club stands squarely behind Nur and that they would have him prepared to again serve the national team in future.

Mansour said that Ittihad was looking for a player to fill the position of the midfield as a result of Nur suspension for the rest of the season and the absence of Brazilian player Chico. He said the club is now negotiating for the services of an African player playing in the French League.

Mansour also emphasized they expected the new Ittihad coach, Loca from Belgium, to succeed with his new team, especially since he has good experience coaching in the Saudi league and in the Gulf in general. He said that Loca had asked for a coach of national caliber to be his assistant but Ittihad could not find anyone better than Mahfooz Hafez for the post.

Mansour announced the establishment of a legal department in the media center that will handle lawsuits against anyone who writes libelous articles against the reigning Asian Champions League title holder Ittihad and especially after Nur was heavily attacked by many sportwriters. Al-Balawi also announced at the end of the press conference that he would donate SR 400,000 as aid for the soccer player Abdullah Sulaiman who is in jail due to his financial problem.

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