Pep Guardiola praises ‘incredible’ Raheem Sterling for confronting racism

The City boss has backed up his winger's claims about the portrayal of black footballers in the media and its link to racial abuse dished out from the stands. (AFP)
Updated 11 December 2018

Pep Guardiola praises ‘incredible’ Raheem Sterling for confronting racism

MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola has praised Manchester City star Raheem Sterling for refusing to be intimidated by the menace of racism in football.

Sterling endured alleged racial abuse from a Chelsea fan during City’s 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The 24-year-old was targeted by the supporter while he was standing near fans on the touchline.

Sterling appeared to laugh off the shocking incident at the time, but the abuse has drawn widespread condemnation amid fears the sport is being dragged back to the dark ages of the 1970s and 1980s when racism was rife.

The England winger later accused the media of fueling racism in the way it reports certain stories about black players.

And former England assistant coach Gary Neville revealed this week that Sterling complained during Euro 2016 of constant criticism from fans that carried racist undertones.

Speaking for the first time since the Chelsea incident, City manager Guardiola backed Sterling and hailed his decision to speak out on the controversy.

“I was concerned with what happened but he made a statement on Instagram and was quite clear about his thoughts,” Guardiola told reporters on Tuesday.

“He’s an incredible person, an incredible human being.

“It’s tough in the 21st century to still be in this position, to have problems with diversity. We have to be better, everyone.”

Guardiola believes racism is a deep problem in society, not just football, and insisted more must be done to combat it.

“It’s everywhere, racism is everywhere. People focus on football but it’s not just in football. You’d think in football we’d be safe but racism is everywhere,” he said.

“What happens today — how we treat immigrants and refugees, when once in our lives our grandfathers were refugees. It’s everywhere. That’s why we have to fight every day.

“We have to fight for human rights to make a better society for the future. Today it’s dangerous, not just in England, all across Europe.

“The message for the politicians is for them to be tough on human rights and we have to defend democracy in the best way.”

Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola also pointed out the media has a crucial role to play in keeping racism in check.

“Today the real power is the media, not politicians, not the governments. It’s the media,” he said.

The Metropolitan Police have launched an investigation into the Stamford Bridge incident, while Chelsea have suspended four supporters.

“I appreciate what Chelsea did,” Guardiola said. “If it happened in my club we should do the same.”

Guardiola, whose side host Hoffenheim in the Champions League on Wednesday, made it clear comments about players should restricted to performances on the field rather than straying into foul abuse.

“Hopefully the criticism is when he plays s***, he plays bad. That would be perfect. Everyone is exposed to that — the managers, the players, everyone around the world,” he said.

“But just for the color of his skin? Believe me, that’s ridiculous and that’s why everyone has to protect from that situation.”

Sterling’s team-mate Leroy Sane also believes the former Liverpool player has shown great dignity in dealing with the abuse.

“I think it’s sad this happens still. We all support Raheem and are on his side,” Sane said.

“He is a strong guy, a good guy. He can handle it and he is not letting it get him down.”


Saudi bowlers off to QubicaAMF World Cup

Updated 18 November 2019

Saudi bowlers off to QubicaAMF World Cup

  • First woman from the Kingdom to compete in the championship in Indonesia

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is sending its first woman to compete in the 55th QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup that begins in Indonesia.

Mashael Alabdulwahid will join her male teammate Abdulrahman Al-Khilaiwi, under the supervision of coach, Mario Joseph, to take part in the contest in Palembang.

Both players underwent training at a camp in Riyadh to prepare for the event. The training program included participating in the Asian Championship in Kuwait for Abdulrahman, and participating in the GCC 6th women’s bowling tournament for Mashael.

The men’s competition started Sunday at 9 p.m.

The women’s competition will begin at 3 p.m. today, where Mashael will take part in six rounds. The competition will run until Nov. 24.

HIGHLIGHT

  • Mashael Alabdulwahid will join her male teammate Abdulrahman Al-Khilaiwi, under the supervision of coach, Mario Joseph, to take part in the contest in Palembang.
  • Both players underwent training at a camp in Riyadh to prepare for the event. The training program included participating at the Asian Championship in Kuwait for Abdulrahman, and participating at the GCC 6th women’s bowling tournament for Mashael.

The competition continues on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and after completing 24 rounds, the top 24 players will be selected to compete for the top eight positions by playing eight runs on Friday. On Saturday, the best four female players and four male players will be chosen to compete in the finals.

Abdulrahman said that he is looking forward to the world cup. “This year there is a new advantage and that is having teammate Mashael joining me for the first time. I’m proud of her! It’s a big thing for Saudi women and for us in the team because this world exposure will help them to learn and give them an incentive to develop their skills,” he said.

The 20-year-old player has been bowling for the past 10 years. Despite his young age, thanks to his perseverance and sense of discipline he managed to win many victories, but the most distinguished were those in 2018. He delivered the bronze medal at the World Cup in Detroit, and two bronzes at the Asian Bowling Championship in the Philippines in the same year, and a gold medal for the trio event at the Arab Bowling Championship in Oman.

Mashael, 32, was only able to play officially last year in February 2018 when the Saudi Bowling Federation (SBF) received the decree to allow women to play in sports. However, she has been playing for fun since early childhood when she used to travel to Egypt with her family and where she managed to learn from the professionals and get hooked on the game. Mashael was chosen to take part in the Egypt Arab Championship and World Bowling Women’s Championship in Las Vegas in August 2018.

Mashael said: “Playing for fun is definitely enjoyable but when you wear your country’s flag that’s a huge responsibility put on your shoulder. You become an ambassador and a role model and when I’m put in that situation, I definitely want to give my all to be fit for that honor, and give the best image worthy of our beloved country.”

The bowlers expressed their gratitude to the Saudi Bowling Federation and its president Bader bin Abdullah Al-Alsheikh for his support and for creating opportunities for them so that they can progress, enrich their experiences and win awards and achievements.