Singing national anthem will not stop a Russian return to competition: IOC

The Russian men’s team defied IOC rules by belting out the anthem at their medal ceremony following Sunday’s 4-3 overtime win against Germany in the gold-medal game. (AP)
Updated 26 February 2018

Singing national anthem will not stop a Russian return to competition: IOC

LONDON: Russia’s imminent return from a doping suspension will not be derailed because its hockey players sang their national anthem, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said.
The Russian men’s team defied IOC rules by belting out the anthem at their medal ceremony following Sunday’s 4-3 overtime win against Germany in the gold-medal game. Russian fans at the match also sang along.
“We understand that this was over excitement by the athletes who had just won a gold medal in extraordinary circumstances,” the IOC said.
Players on the Russian team said they agreed before the game that they would sing the anthem.
The IOC suspended Russia’s membership in December over a doping scheme at the 2014 Olympics, but allowed 168 Russians to enter the Pyeongchang Olympics as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” in neutral uniforms.
They had to sign a document agreeing not to display any national symbols or protest the restrictions. The Olympic anthem played when Russians won gold.
The IOC voted against reinstating Russia in time for the closing ceremony Sunday, which would have allowed Russian athletes to march under their national flag.
However, the IOC decided that Russia will be reinstated if no more of its athletes fail drug tests from the Pyeongchang Games. Russia produced two of the four doping cases announced so far.
Testing of samples taken from Russians in Pyeongchang is nearing its end, and Russian IOC member Shamil Tarpishchev told the state news agency RIA Novosti on Monday that reinstatement could come as soon as Tuesday.

WADA CRITICIZE DECISION
The World Anti-Doping Agency stopped short of endorsing the IOC’s decision to lift Russia’s suspension if no new positive drug tests come to light from the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics.
In a statement WADA said it acknowledged the IOC’s latest move but pointed out that Russia is still not adhering to the World Anti-Doping Code.
“It should be clarified that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) remains non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code as it has not yet met the necessary criteria of RUSADA’s Roadmap to Compliance, following Russia’s proven systemic manipulation of the doping control process,” WADA said.
Meanwhile, the IOC decision was slammed by the lawyer for Russian whistleblower and former Moscow drug lab director Grigory Rodchenkov (left).
“Thomas Bach was a drowning man,” lawyer Jim Walden said. “But finally cooler heads within the IOC threw him a life preserver. Yet in the decision, the IOC had the gall to claim Russia ‘respected’ its decision in December to institute the suspension.


Saudi Women’s Football League launched

Updated 24 February 2020

Saudi Women’s Football League launched

  • The first season of the WFL, a nationwide initiative, will be held in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam
  • League inaugurated by president of Saudi Sports for All Federation

RIYADH/DUBAI: Community sports for female athletes in the Kingdom took another giant step forward after the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) inaugurated on Monday the Women’s Football League (WFL) at a launch event in Riyadh. 

It is the latest initiative led by SFA President Prince Khaled bin Al-Waleed bin Talal to promote grassroots sports activities for budding female and male athletes across Saudi Arabia.

SFA President Prince Khaled bin Al-Waleed bin Talal (L) (AN Photo/Bashir Saleh)

“The development of the WFL came about because we understood there was a need for community-level football for women,” Prince Khaled told Arab News.

“This community league is the first activation of many different community-level sports for women, and it will serve as a great model in terms of league infrastructure and inclusion metrics, contributing to Saudi Vision 2030 and the Quality of Life program.”

Fully funded by the SFA, the WFL is a nationwide community-level league for women aged 17 and above.

In its first season, it will take place in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, with more cities potentially joining in due course. 

With a prize of SR500,000 ($133,285) at stake, the WFL will consist of preliminary rounds taking place across the three cities to establish regional champions.

The winners progress to a knockout competition, the WFL Champions Cup, to determine the national champion, with the date of the final to be announced later in the season. 

Prince Khaled thanked King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority, for their “boundless support.”

 

 

The WFL “is one more major leap forward for the future of our country, our health, our youth, and our ambitions to see every athlete be recognized and nurtured to their fullest capability,” said Prince Khaled. 

Women’s football is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports, and the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup raised its profile to unprecedented levels, inspiring greater participation across the globe.

Inspiration for female footballers at the grassroots level has come from closer to home, Prince Khaled said.

“I think a big inspiration for young Saudi women to get involved in community-level football is the Saudi Greens Team,” he said, referring to the all-female team established by the SFA.

“The Saudi Greens placed second in the Global Goals World Cup last year, and this was a huge moment for young female athletes in the Kingdom.”

Prince Khaled sees the WFL as a pivotal initiative of the SFA and a major driver behind the realization of the Vision 2030 reform plan, which strives for a healthier and more active society.

SFA Managing Director Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini believes that the WFL will significantly improve the visibility of women in sports and prioritize their fitness, health and wellness.

Some of the women at the launch event. (AN Photo/Bashir Saleh)

“Empowering women comes through positive and proactive programs like the WFL that have been conceptualized to continue to have a lasting impact on health, fitness and wellbeing,” she said.

“The SFA, committed to putting women at the forefront of our mission to grow Saudi Arabia’s healthy and active community, continues to engage public and private sector stakeholders to realize this aim together.”

She said this is a qualitative shift in women’s sports in the Kingdom. Spearheaded by Sara Al-Jawini, the SFA’s director of sports development, the federation “studied all aspects of the new league, conducting continuous workshops to ensure the wider WFL infrastructure and lasting impact metrics,” Al-Husseini added. 

Some of the women at the launch event. (AN Photo/Bashir Saleh)

The SFA has ensured that the football pitches are ready for the start of the WFL in March, with all-female organizational and technical teams in place to manage the various committees working toward delivering the league.

The WFL infrastructure teams will address and complete administrative requirements, refereeing, and technical and medical issues. 

Coaching and refereeing courses are planned to further develop the country’s infrastructure for women in sports.

The SFA’s investment in the WFL includes both women’s coaching and women’s refereeing training to fully flesh out the program’s potential and maintenance. 

At a later stage, the SFA and WFL will be communicating details on additional leagues and football events, as well as festivals targeting girls aged 16 and below.

These competitions, under the banner “Beyond Football,” will focus on building a strong base for future participation at the community level, beginning with girls aged 5.