Woods, McIlroy set for second duel in China

Woods, McIlroy set for second duel in China
Updated 13 July 2013

Woods, McIlroy set for second duel in China

Woods, McIlroy set for second duel in China

BEIJING: Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy will go head-to-head in a two-man exhibition for the second time in China following last year’s outlandish Duel at Jinsha Lake, organiZers said Saturday.
Golf’s world number one and two will appear at an as yet unnamed venue on October 28, reprising their one-day meeting a year earlier which became infamous for its unruly crowds and gratuitous displays of wealth.
“Rory and I have played against and with each other a lot over the past few years, and he beat me in China last time so I’m looking forward to playing again,” said Woods in a press release.
“We’re good friends, but both of us love to win, so I’m expecting more great golf,” added the 14-time major-winner.
“I’ve played in China since 2001 and the event last year showed me there’s still huge enthusiasm for growing the game in cities all across the country, especially as it’s again an Olympic sport in 2016.”
McIlroy won last year’s event in Zhengzhou but it is remembered mainly for the behavior of fans who stole balls from the driving range and were rugby-tackled by staff as they mobbed the players on the fairways.
The 18-hole strokeplay tournament, held to advertise a new housing development, also featured the bizarre sight of models standing at the tee boxes, helicopters, drum majorettes, fireworks and a luxury yacht.
Few details were revealed about the upcoming event but McIlroy said he was looking forward to taking on Woods again.
“It’s exciting to play against Tiger in this format. We’ve played together many times in regular four-day Tour events, but it’s different when it’s just the two of us in an 18-hole battle,” said McIlroy, 24.
“Everyone knows he’s hugely competitive each time he steps on the golf course, so I know he’ll want to beat me, just as I’ll be very keen to beat him again.
“The crowds we had last year were incredible. I had never seen so many people following one match and I’m sure we’ll have more of the same this year. The support is testimony to the growing strength of golf in China and I’m looking forward to getting back there.”
Event organizer Infinite Ideas International said several leading Chinese golf clubs were interested in holding this year’s show and the venue will be announced soon.


Saudi Arabia entices investors to rapidly growing sports economy

The Ministry of Sport has today launched NAFES, a new online licensing platform designed to encourage foreign investment and collaboration in the Kingdom, one of the world’s rapidly growing sports markets. (Supplied)
The Ministry of Sport has today launched NAFES, a new online licensing platform designed to encourage foreign investment and collaboration in the Kingdom, one of the world’s rapidly growing sports markets. (Supplied)
Updated 21 June 2021

Saudi Arabia entices investors to rapidly growing sports economy

The Ministry of Sport has today launched NAFES, a new online licensing platform designed to encourage foreign investment and collaboration in the Kingdom, one of the world’s rapidly growing sports markets. (Supplied)
  • ‘NAFES’ launched to encourage investment and ownership in sports clubs, academies and centers

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is inviting global investors to take full ownership of clubs, academies and centers across 27 of its most popular sports. 

The Ministry of Sport has today launched NAFES, a new online licensing platform designed to encourage foreign investment and collaboration in the Kingdom, one of the world’s rapidly growing sports markets.

“We are inviting the world to partner with us on our journey of sporting transformation. Our country’s incredible passion for sport is well known and, as more get active and take up sport, the economic opportunity is exciting,” said Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal.

He added: “Sport is an integral component of our Kingdom’s transformative Vision 2030, and we would not have achieved these massive strides if it were not for the unconditional support by our Kingdom’s leadership led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and the Crown Prince Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

NAFES will attract private investment to help increase the number of clubs, academies and centers across sport and to boost competition among athletes. 

The Saudi sports economy has grown 174 percent in the last three years and its contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) has increased by 22 percent.

“NAFES is our invitation to overseas partners to drive our sporting investment to the next level and to collaborate across our sports clubs, academies and centers,” Prince Abdulaziz said, adding: “It is a turning point for the Kingdom’s sports sector. Our message to investors and the private sector both in Saudi Arabia and across the globe is direct and clear, establish your clubs, compete and draw the future path of Saudi sports investment.”

The launch of NAFES falls under Saudi Arabia’s “Quality of Life” sports program, which is part of the country’s Vision 2030 reform plans. 

It has already launched partnerships with some of the world’s biggest sports events and governing bodies.

The investments have resulted in a 37 percent growth in Saudis participating in weekly sport activities between 2015 and 2019, alongside a 149 percent increase in women and girls exercising during the same time period. During the coronavirus pandemic, over four million enjoyed home fitness classes as part of the “Baytak Nadeek” initiative by the Saudi Sports For All Federation.

Saudi Arabia has hosted around 50 international events in the last three years. These have included events in international football, the PGA European Tour golf, WWE, tennis and boxing. The country’s motorsport calendar features the Dakar Rally, Formula E, Extreme E and from December, the first ever Saudi Arabian Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Historically, the Saudi sports industry was wholly reliant on government funding. But following this policy change, the government is aiming to accelerate the growth of the sports industry by increasing the role of the private sector.

NAFES will also aim to raise the percentage share of the sports industry’s contribution towards the Kingdom’s GDP, in addition to increasing and diversifying local and foreign investment opportunities, and ultimately raising the number of competitive clubs across a wide range of sports.

“This was an organic development that falls in line with our efforts to position Saudi at the forefront of the sporting world globally and that is a crucial part in Saudi Vision 2030,” Prince Abdulaziz said. “As our sporting ambitions continue, we seek to collaborate with partners and strike a healthy balance between public and private sector investment.” 

The sports being offered for ownership via NAFES include football, basketball, swimming, equestrian, tennis, electronic sports, gymnastics, cycling and combat sports. 

Investors are urged to visit this website for more information on all the required steps to apply for their license.


Injured Hummels, Mueller, Gundogan miss Germany training

Injured Hummels, Mueller, Gundogan miss Germany training
Updated 21 June 2021

Injured Hummels, Mueller, Gundogan miss Germany training

Injured Hummels, Mueller, Gundogan miss Germany training
  • Trio started Saturday's 4-2 win over Portugal which put the Mannschaft's European Championship campaign back on track
  • Hummels and Mueller are both resting knee injuries, while Gundogan took a blow to the calf

HERZOGENAURACH/GERMANY: Mats Hummels, Thomas Mueller and Ilkay Gundogan missed Germany training on Monday with injury knocks, two days before their crunch match against Hungary at Euro 2020.
The trio all started Saturday’s 4-2 win over Portugal which put the Mannschaft’s European Championship campaign back on track, but Hummels and Mueller are both resting knee injuries, while Gundogan took a blow to the calf.
German daily Bild claim Mueller will miss the Hungary game on Wednesday, but a DFB spokesman denied the report and insisted it was too early to say.
Replacement right-back Lukas Klostermann, who has yet to play a minute of Euro 2020, also sat out Monday’s session at Germany’s camp in Bavaria with a hamstring strain.
The German Football Association (DFB) has not said whether Mueller, Gundogan or Hummels will be fit to start their final Group F match against Hungary in Munich.
Germany, who are second in the group, need a win to be sure of reaching last 16, but a draw could be enough if France do not lose to Portugal in Budapest on Wednesday.
Hungary, who are bottom of the table with a point after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with France, must win to avoid elimination.


Tickets for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix go on sale as Yas Marina Circuit welcomes Formula One fans back

Tickets for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix go on sale as Yas Marina Circuit welcomes Formula One fans back
Updated 21 June 2021

Tickets for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix go on sale as Yas Marina Circuit welcomes Formula One fans back

Tickets for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix go on sale as Yas Marina Circuit welcomes Formula One fans back
  • About 16,000 seats will be available for race weekend, which will take place from December 9-12 and see the return of the Yasalam after-race concerts

Tickets for the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix have gone on sale to the public as Yas Marina Circuit looks set to welcome motorsports fans back for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the only fans in attendance were 600 Frontline Heroes who were invited to enjoy the complete Yas Island experience in recognition of their efforts during the pandemic.

After hosting several international sporting events with live audiences this year, the UAE capital is offering a limited number of tickets for race weekend on Dec. 9-12.

“We are absolutely thrilled to announce tickets are now on sale for the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021 as we look to welcome fans back to Yas Marina Circuit for a fantastic weekend of sport and entertainment,” said Saif Al-Noaimi, the acting CEO of Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management.

“Obviously there are capacity limits due to the current guidelines that have been published in Abu Dhabi,” he said. “We are operating at a capacity of 30 percent, so tickets are going to be limited. We urge people to go and purchase tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.”

This means that more than 16,000 seats will available at Yas Marina Circuit.

“Naturally, spectators play a huge role in creating the special atmosphere we have come to associate with the event, and we are delighted they will be in attendance once again, giving them an opportunity to watch some of Formula One’s biggest stars go head-to-head out on the track,” Al-Noaimi added.

Fans attending this year’s event can look forward to the return of the traditional Yasalam after-race concerts, produced by Flash Entertainment, with four AAA artists, who will be announced in due course, performing each night over the course of race weekend.

The on-track action will be enhanced by changes to the track, with the aim of increasing competition at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and all other motorsport events at the venue. The changes will be implemented over the summer to increase the potential for overtaking and improve the overall visual spectacle.

“Over the coming months we will continue to work alongside Formula One and all key stakeholders to ensure the relevant safety procedures are implemented to guarantee the safety of everybody present, as we have done for all events hosted at Yas Marina Circuit since the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Al-Noaimi.

In compliance with government directives, new measures are in place for this year’s event, including designated Oasis areas, an enhanced food and beverage service where orders can be delivered directly to tables and a Track Walk, which will replace Thursday’s Pit Lane Walk.

Regular seats are available on Abu Dhabi Hill and in the main grandstand, and tickets will provide access to food and beverage outlets, live DJ sets and the Yasalam after-race concerts at Etihad Park. Due to safety considerations this year, all ticket holders will be able to attend only one of the concerts over the weekend.

“What is extra special is that artists are so enthused about performing as part of Yasalam. They have seen Abu Dhabi’s coordinated response to COVID-19 and see race weekend as a great way to re-engage with their followers, live, in person, in a safe environment,” said John Lickrish, CEO of Flash Entertainment.

“There is huge appetite from fans of live events to feel that thrill again. Nothing comes close. Watch this space for some exciting announcements in the coming months as we continue working with Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management, Formula One, and all stakeholders to deliver another truly memorable, safe, sports and entertainment experience.”

Hospitality package options include Yas Suites, Marina Views Suite, Champions Club, Shams Suite and the Paddock Club. Tickets will be issued closer to the event.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will also celebrate the UAE’s 50th anniversary through a series of events in the various entertainment zones and the Heritage Village.

Strict precautionary measures will be in operation at Yas Marina Circuit for this year’s event.

UAE residents attending must have received two doses of a UAE-approved COVID-19 vaccine, as well as providing a negative PCR test result. Non-UAE residents will also need to provide authorised documentation and evidence of vaccination, along with a negative PCR test result.

Other precautionary measures include temperature checking, venue sanitization and social distancing, and there will be a first aid and COVID-19 testing point on site, which will include a dedicated quarantine room for suspected cases. Children under the age of 12 will not be permitted to attend the event.

Tickets can be purchased via www.yasmarinacircuit.com


Leonardo Jardim to run rule over Al-Hilal squad before setting out recruitment strategy

Leonardo Jardim to run rule over Al-Hilal squad before setting out recruitment strategy
Updated 21 June 2021

Leonardo Jardim to run rule over Al-Hilal squad before setting out recruitment strategy

Leonardo Jardim to run rule over Al-Hilal squad before setting out recruitment strategy
  • Saudi champions’ new Portuguese coach will land in Riyadh in 10 days’ time before officially taking over his duties

Saudi Pro League champions Al-Hilal announced that new Portuguese coach Leonardo Jardim has postponed any contract negotiations and signings until he has completed studying the players currently at the club, Arabic sports daily Arriyadiyah has reported.

Sources at the club said the former Monaco coach will present the board with an extensively researched technical report highlighting the squad’s technical needs and the players — foreign and local — who can satisfy those criteria.

Jardim is set to arrive in Riyadh in 10 days’ time to officially assume his duties. Among his first tasks will be securing his new residence, visiting the club’s headquarters, and finalizing the first team’s preparations for the 2021-22 season.

On June 1, the 46-year-old was offered a one-year contract by the Riyadh club, with the option of an extension for a further 12 months. He had been out of football since leaving Monaco in December 2019.

After stints in charge of Braga, Olympiacos and Sporting Lisbon, he was appointed to take over at Monaco in the summer of 2014, with the club a shadow of the one that had won the French league in 2000 and reached the final of the UEFA Champions League four years later.

In 2016-17, he led Monaco to the Ligue 1 championship as well as the semi-finals of the Champions League.

On his arrival in Saudi Arabia, Jardim is set to hold several meetings with Al-Hilal’s management as he wants to ensure all preparations are scheduled ahead of the players’ return to training on July 5.


Oman beat Somalia to book place in 2021 FIFA Arab Cup

Oman beat Somalia to book place in 2021 FIFA Arab Cup
Updated 21 June 2021

Oman beat Somalia to book place in 2021 FIFA Arab Cup

Oman beat Somalia to book place in 2021 FIFA Arab Cup
  • Gulf nation will play in Group A alongside Qatar, Iraq in competition that kicks off Nov. 27

Oman has qualified to November’s FIFA Arab Cup after defeating Somalia 2-1 in their playoff match at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Sunday.

Muhsen Al-Ghassani and Salaah Al-Yahyaei scored first-half goals to confirm that Branko Ivankovic’s side will play in Group A along hosts Qatar, Iraq, and the winners of the playoff between Bahrain and Kuwait that will be played on Friday.

Oman stated the brighter of the two teams, and could have taken the lead at nine minutes when Al-Ghassani cleverly set up Abdulaziz Al-Maqbali, whose shot struck the crossbar.

It was a temporary reprieve for Somalia as Oman broke the deadlock only three minutes later when Al-Maqbali’s shot from the edge of the area was saved by the goalkeeper only for Al-Ghassani to force the ball home.

Oman doubled their advantage in the 35th minute when Mustaf Mohamed fouled Al-Ghassani inside the area and Salah Al-Yahyaei converted the resulting penalty.

The Somalis gave themselves a glimmer of hope when they pulled a goal back in the 54th minute, Mohamed Abdulahi’s cross into the area headed home by Abel Gigli past Oman goalkeeper Faiyz Al-Rusheidi.

Somalia pressed for an equalizer in the closing stages, but Oman held on to seal their place in the finals to be held between Nov. 27 and Dec. 18.