Lebanon’s Nejmeh sign cooperation agreement with Arsenal

Lebanon’s Nejmeh sign cooperation agreement with Arsenal
Aubameyang, right, after scoring Arsenal’s second goal with Lacazette in a 2 — 1 win over Burnley. The flagship English club has signed a cooperation agreement with Nejmeh Sporting Club. (Reuters)
Updated 18 October 2019

Lebanon’s Nejmeh sign cooperation agreement with Arsenal

Lebanon’s Nejmeh sign cooperation agreement with Arsenal
  • Flagship English club Arsenal F.C. has signed a cooperation agreement with Lebanon’s Nejmeh Sporting Club
  • Arsenal will assist Nejmeh at academy level, coaching of age-group teams and in business-related areas such as administration and marketing

LONDON: Lebanon’s Nejmeh Sporting Club has signed a cooperation agreement with Premier League side Arsenal F.C.

As part of the agreement, Arsenal will assist Nejmeh at academy level, coaching of age-group teams and in business-related areas such as administration and marketing.

Nejmeh’s President Asaad Saccal instructed club director, Jamal Al-Jurdi, to follow up on the English club’s offer of assistance.

Nejmeh Sporting Club is only one of a few Middle Eastern clubs to have received such an offer from one of England’s long-standing premier football clubs.

Nejmeh S.C. is based in the Manara district of Ras Beirut. The Beirut derby with Ansar has historically been the most anticipated game in Lebanon.


Formula 3 driver Reema Juffali on the road to becoming an icon for all Saudi women

Formula 3 driver Reema Juffali on the road to becoming an icon for all Saudi women
Updated 24 min 23 sec ago

Formula 3 driver Reema Juffali on the road to becoming an icon for all Saudi women

Formula 3 driver Reema Juffali on the road to becoming an icon for all Saudi women
  • For Saudi Arabia’s first-ever female Formula racer, the high-velocity, adrenaline-packed action has become a way of life
  • Ahead of the Formula E double-header last weekend at Diriyah, Juffali announced that she will be making the move from Formula 4 to Douglas Motorsport in the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship this year

RIYADH: Within moments of meeting Reema Juffali, you will get the feeling she was always meant for a career in motorsports. Watch her drive, and those feeling are immediately confirmed.

For Saudi Arabia’s first-ever female Formula racer, the high-velocity, adrenaline-packed action has become a way of life.

“It’s a privilege to be able to do what I’m doing, racing, and racing under the Saudi flag,” the Jeddah-born motorist said. “It’s a humbling experience representing my country by being the first, and alhamdulillah (praise God), I’m pursuing my passion and doing what I love.”

It has been a momentous couple of weeks for Juffali.

Ahead of the Formula E double-header last weekend at Diriyah, Juffali announced that she will be making the move from Formula 4 to Douglas Motorsport in the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship this year.

“It’s going to be a big step for me driving a faster car, a better car, so that’s really exciting,” she told Arab News. “In terms of the future, I’m open to any opportunity that comes my way. I definitely want to race at the top level of motorsports, whether it’s in a Le Mans race or Formula E — it’s all on the cards.”

Douglas Motorsport has been taking part in the series since 2016, with 14 wins and over 60 podiums to its name. This is a major step up for Juffali, but surpassing expectations is what she does.

As a child, Juffali defied gender stereotypes and social norms in Saudi Arabia, preferring sports while other girls chose ballet. Her passion for cars came early, and she could name different car manufacturers from a young age. After moving to Boston to study, she began driving — still illegal at the time in Saudi Arabia — and she fell in love with Formula 1.

When it became legal for women to drive in the Kingdom in 2018, she would be the first one out there on the circuit.

“I got approval from the federation to get my license in the UK, and it turned out to be a very simple process,” she told Arab News. “One only needed to receive a medical check-up, to understand the safety regulations and what the flags and signals meant, as well as to pass a one to two-lap test demonstrating this knowledge.

“It felt like I had just graduated from university,” she added. And when the time came, she converted that license into a Saudi one to race under the Kingdom’s banner.

Juffali stressed the importance of her family’s support in pursuing her dreams, despite their initial concerns for her safety.

“My mother and father both really supported me and encouraged me. In a sport like this, there’s quite a lot happening; you really do need a good support system,” she said.

“In the beginning, my friends and family were a bit apprehensive. ‘Is this safe?’ they asked. And I explained that I had done my research, that I had received as much experience as I could before getting into the car and that it was my passion, my dream. I think that was important for them to hear,” she added.

Whatever early doubts there may have been, Juffali pressed ahead with what she believed was her true calling — a professional career in motorsports.

“It’s amazing to be able to compete in a sport where the gender barriers are still evident, but when you’re on track it doesn’t really matter,” she said.

“And for me, at the end of the day, it’s all the same: Whether I’m racing against a male or a female, I just want to get ahead of them, and I want to win.”

A pivotal moment in Juffali’s career was meeting Susie Wolff, former professional racing driver and current Team Principal of Venturi Racing, while attending the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Scottish driver would become a mentor for the young Saudi.

“I saw it as a sign that I needed to start. I needed to go after my dream,” Juffali said. “When I did, I reached out to her again and told her ‘I’m racing, I did it,’ and she honestly was super happy for me.”

Prior to Juffali’s first race, she had only trained for six weeks with her coach in England. She said it was like being “thrown into the deep end.”

Juffali ignored the noise around her and focused on improving herself by getting out on the track as much as possible and putting herself in different scenarios, such as racing under different weather conditions, particularly the rain, and driving different cars.

She quickly learned from her mistakes and became the proficient driver she is today.

Juffali fondly recalled achieving her first purple, or quickest, lap.

“I was like, ‘Really? Are you sure? Is it me?’,” she said excitedly. It was one of the first moments she believed she was the real deal.

Juffali admitted that in the early days she would suffer from overdriving, in which a rookie driver will often depend on what they are learning rather than what they are feeling.

“I still battle with that sometimes, when a scenario appears that I haven’t been in before,” she said. “I do sometimes overthink and overdrive and when that happens, you make mistakes. I’m now more exposed to these scenarios and I have more experience, so I think less and I just do more. I feel more, let’s say. I go with my instinct and gut rather than what I think I need to do.”

Juffali said the most important aspects of racing are consistency, precision and keeping a calm head. Those qualities quickly led to success on the track.

The now 29-year-old driver was in complete disbelief after her first win at the TRD 86 Cup in Dubai.

“A high point was definitely my first win,” she said. “That came as a shock to me because of the way the race was set up. It was a two-part race, and I didn’t realize that I was first. I finished the race thinking ‘Am I actually first?’ and I kept asking people: ‘Is it real? Is it happening?’”

On top of racing, Juffali sees the track as a form of therapy and encourages people to take their stresses and anxieties out on the tarmac, where one is permitted to put the pedal to the metal. “I get that all out on the track, so when I’m in the car on normal roads I’m quite relaxed,” she said.

Juffali stressed the importance of adhering to traffic laws and road safety, explaining that the best way to do so was to be mindful of those around you.

“Think about each other,” she said. “When you’re on the road, it’s not just yourself; you’re putting other people in harm’s way if you’re driving recklessly.”

For those wishing to follow in her footsteps, Juffali broke down the differences in the varying single-seater Formula categories.   

“Formula 4 is the introductory level. It’s the one that has the least power. It’s the slowest and least aerodynamic,” she said. “With Formula 3, you get more power and become more aerodynamic, which means the downforce increases, so it becomes physically harder to drive. Formula 2 is closest to Formula 1. At this level, there is more power and the cars are bigger. Formula 1 is a completely different ballgame.”

The societal changes that have empowered women in the Kingdom over recent years have paved the road for Juffali to achieve her dreams. And she has a word of advice for others looking to do the same.

“I think the most important thing, and the thing that I would’ve liked to hear myself, is that it doesn’t hurt to try, to put yourself in different situations, to experience different things, to try everything,” she said. “That’s how you’re going to find your passion. That’s how you’re going to find your calling.”


Klopp plays down Salah reaction after substituting top striker

Klopp plays down Salah reaction after substituting top striker
Updated 06 March 2021

Klopp plays down Salah reaction after substituting top striker

Klopp plays down Salah reaction after substituting top striker
  • Liverpool languishing in 7th place in Premier League and are 4 points behind Chelsea

LONDON: Jurgen Klopp has played down any potential fallout following Mohamed Salah’s show of displeasure after his substitution in Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat by Chelsea.

The Egypt international made no secret of his annoyance at being withdrawn just after the hour mark at Anfield on Thursday as the champions slipped to a fifth successive home league defeat for the first time in their history.
Liverpool are languishing in seventh place in the Premier League and are four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea ahead of Sunday’s home game against lowly Fulham.
Klopp said he could not make substitutions on the basis of what reaction it created, adding he took off the Premier League’s leading scorer because he thought he was feeling the intensity of the game.
“I’m not even sure if this situation is now a reason for a ‘proper talk’ about it,” he said on Friday.
“We are 1-0 down, that makes no player happy. You go off and you react in different ways because you are not happy.
“You get subbed, you are a striker and you think you should stay on the pitch. That’s all completely clear and not an issue, it is just normal life.”
Klopp said managers were forced to make quick judgments on the basis of what they saw on the pitch.
“We make these decisions in the moment and not with any thoughts in behind, the problem only is you only have to explain it after the game and the day after the game,” he said.
“These kind of stories (rumors of unhappiness) so far didn’t happen. I cannot guarantee for the future and for all times it will never happen but these kind of discussions we never had.”
Salah has scored 17 Premier League goals this season and needs only one more to register 25 for the campaign in all competitions for the third time in four seasons at Anfield.
Previously his tally has been supplemented by significant contributions from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino but his fellow forward are well short of their usual numbers.
Mane has just 11 in all competitions and Firmino six, while Diogo Jota, who made his comeback against Chelsea after three months out with a knee injury, has nine goals.
“We all have to improve,” said Klopp. “Mo still has a great scoring record and I am sure everyone knows and he knows himself even he could have scored more goals.
“But that, Mo’s goalscoring, is not our problem. But in general we have to improve, 100 percent.”


Guardiola wary of ‘difficult’ United ahead of Manchester derby

Guardiola wary of ‘difficult’ United ahead of Manchester derby
Updated 06 March 2021

Guardiola wary of ‘difficult’ United ahead of Manchester derby

Guardiola wary of ‘difficult’ United ahead of Manchester derby
  • City are on a run of 21 successive wins in all competitions — a record for an English top-flight team

LONDON: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says Manchester United will be “difficult” opponents despite a huge gulf in form between the two sides ahead of Sunday’s derby.
City are on a run of 21 successive wins in all competitions — a record for an English top-flight team.
They are top of the Premier League table, 14 points clear of second-placed United, who have won just one out of their past five league matches and are struggling to score goals.
But the City boss said he was wary of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team, who are unbeaten away from home in the league for more than a year.
“I know how difficult United are,” he said on Friday.
“Every year they get better from the previous season. They (have gone) more than one year not losing away and they have good results at the Etihad.
“We have the good opportunity to increase the distance. We spoke in training about what we have to do to beat them.”
Guardiola has been impressed by the hunger of his players, who are red-hot favorites to win a third Premier League title in four seasons.
“It comes from themselves,” said the Catalan. “It comes from inside, try to win. The smell when we win is so beautiful but, when we lose, the perspective will be calm.
“Today we trained incredibly well, tomorrow will be the same.”
“I had incredibly hungry teams in my career in Barcelona and Bayern Munich,” he said.
“To do what we have done in these four years, still winning, to be there at the end, these guys have something special like in Barcelona and Bayern Munich.”
Solskjaer, meanwhile, said he did not agree with the “narrative” that Manchester United’s form has dipped alarmingly as he prepares his team to face Manchester City.
The Norwegian manager admitted his team, who were top of the table in late January, were lacking a “spark” in front of goal but was bullish about their form.
“We have had a week without scoring a goal, not six weeks of bad form,” he said on Friday. “We beat Real Sociedad 4-0 (in the Europa League last-32 first leg) and Southampton 9-0.
“The amount of games can have an effect. I am not buying into the narrative that we have had such a dip in form. We have defended well but we have lacked a little spark to score a goal.”
The 48-year-old United boss hailed City’s “fantastic” run but said his focus was on winning a trophy.
United have lost four semifinals under Solskjaer, most recently to City in the League Cup in January but are still in the Europa League and FA Cup.
“Our focus is just on this one game and not where we’re going to end up,” he said.
“We just have to be the best possible Man United and try to improve on last season. That means moving up the table, getting more points, hopefully challenge or get to a final, win a trophy,” he added.
“What other teams do we can’t control, so we have to just keep at it ourselves, challenge ourselves. They’re ahead of us by a fair distance at the moment so Sunday’s a chance to test ourselves against a very good team.”


Tuchel gives credit to Chelsea players for unbeaten run

Tuchel gives credit to Chelsea players for unbeaten run
Updated 06 March 2021

Tuchel gives credit to Chelsea players for unbeaten run

Tuchel gives credit to Chelsea players for unbeaten run

LONDON: Thomas Tuchel says his Chelsea players should take the credit after masterminding a 10-match unbeaten run since he replaced Frank Lampard as manager.
Chelsea’s 1-0 win against Liverpool on Thursday lifted them to fourth in the Premier League table and put them on course to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
The Stamford Bridge side were languishing down in ninth place when Tuchel took over in late January.
German boss Tuchel has refused to take credit for that resurgence however, insisting the players must receive the plaudits.
Asked to explain his role in Chelsea’s revival, Tuchel replied: “I am flattered but I will just give the flowers to the players and to the club.
“It is proven that Chelsea is an organization and a club that has everything that you need to be successful as a coach and as a football team, so now it is my job to bring out the very best of myself, together with the team.”
Tuchel inherited a Chelsea squad lacking direction as Lampard’s reign stuttered to a frustrating end.
The former Paris Saint-Germain boss has quickly tightened up the team’s defense and they have conceded just twice on his watch.
Tuchel will pit his wits against Carlo Ancelotti when Chelsea host Everton on Monday. The fifth-placed Toffees are a point behind Chelsea but have a game in hand.
“I am happy to be on the sideline,” said Tuchel. “I feel an attitude, an unbelievable attitude toward training, toward games, I feel the bond that is necessary.
“In the whole world when football is played, the teams that stand out are the teams that fight for each other, are ready to sacrifice, are happy for each other, push each other from the bench and this is exactly what I found. I found a lot of talent.”


Trainer Gordon Elliott banned over dead horse photo

Trainer Gordon Elliott banned over dead horse photo
Updated 05 March 2021

Trainer Gordon Elliott banned over dead horse photo

Trainer Gordon Elliott banned over dead horse photo
  • Image of trainer sitting astride a dead horse with two fingers raised in a “V for victory” gesture sparked fury and disgust across the sport
  • An Irish Horse Racing Regulatory Board (IHRB) panel said his “extraordinarily foolish action” had damaged the reputation of the sport

DUBLIN: Three-time Grand National-winning trainer Gordon Elliott was Friday banned for a year, six months of which are suspended, by Irish racing authorities after a photograph emerged of him sitting on a dead horse.
The image of the grinning trainer sitting astride the animal with two fingers raised in a “V for victory” gesture sparked fury and disgust across the sport.
The 43-year-old Irishman is one of the most high-profile figures in racing after training Tiger Roll to victory at Britain’s Grand National in 2018 and 2019.
He had his first taste of glory at Aintree with Silver Birch in 2007.
But an Irish Horse Racing Regulatory Board (IHRB) panel said his “extraordinarily foolish action” had damaged the reputation of the sport.
“We consider that a suspension of Mr.Elliott’s training license is merited,” they said in a statement, which added that the sanction would apply from March 9.
“In all of the circumstances of this case, to reflect the seriousness of the offense and the damage to the Irish racing industry, to deter other offenses of this nature and having taken into account the mitigating factors we have heard, we consider the period should be 12 months.
“However, the last six months of this will be suspended.”
Elliott, who was also ordered to pay 15,000 euros ($18,000) in costs, said he accepted the penalty and that he had been dealt with fairly.
“Horses are my life,” he said in a statement. “I love them. No one comes into racing for money — it is a hard way to make a living. We are here because we love the horses.”
“I was disrespectful to a dead horse, an animal that had been a loyal servant to me and was loved by my staff,” he added.
“I will carry the burden of my transgressions for the rest of my career. I will never again disrespect a horse living or dead and I will not tolerate it in others.”
British racing authorities had already banned Elliott pending the outcome of the investigation and he will miss the Cheltenham Festival later this month and the Grand National in April.
“We welcome the fact that the Irish authorities have acted swiftly,” said the British Horseracing Authority.
“The suspension will be reciprocated here in Great Britain.”
A number of people who employ Elliott had spoken out in support of him, including Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary, who owns the Gigginstown House Stud operation.
But others withdrew horses from his care, including English owners Cheveley Park Stud.
The horse in the photograph was O’Leary’s animal, a seven-year-old called Morgan.
The three-strong IHRB panel said Elliott accepted that his conduct was “disgraceful” and “wholly inappropriate and distasteful.”
They members of the panel said the photograph suggested Elliott was “heedless to the fact a horse in his charge has just died” and that he was “treating the dead animal as an object of amusement.”
They also alluded to the manner in which the photo came to light last weekend on social media, having been taken in 2019.
“In the view of the committee there is also a sinister aspect to this case,” they said.
“The committee are satisfied that the publication of this photograph is part of a concerted attack upon Mr.Elliott, the full circumstances of which are unknown.”
The panel also said it had considered the negative effect on stable staff working for Elliott in making their decision.
The futures of dozens of staff in his stables north of Dublin hang in the balance until the owners decide what to do with their horses.