Going for goal: Saudi Arabia kicks off first women’s football league

Going for goal: Saudi Arabia kicks off first women’s football league
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The tournament has been lauded as an important step for the Saudi sports world. (SPA)
Going for goal: Saudi Arabia kicks off first women’s football league
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The tournament has been lauded as an important step for the Saudi sports world. (SPA)
Going for goal: Saudi Arabia kicks off first women’s football league
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The tournament has been lauded as an important step for the Saudi sports world. (SPA)
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Updated 18 November 2020

Going for goal: Saudi Arabia kicks off first women’s football league

Going for goal: Saudi Arabia kicks off first women’s football league

RIYADH: First they opened the grandstands to women, now Saudi Arabia is encouraging them to cross the touchline and compete in the Kingdom’s first Women’s Football League tournament.

The historic competition kicks off on Tuesday morning, with 24 teams across Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam competing for a championship cup, and a $133,000 cash prize.

The Kingdom opened its stadiums to women football supporters in January, 2018, but this is the first time they will have been allowed to compete in a tournament.

The competition has been lauded as an important step for the Saudi sports world, with many in the game throwing their support behind the event.

Calling the competition a “positive step,” Abdullah Alyami, Saudi football coach and sports reporter, said he expects many more women to participate in future tournaments.

“This is a very happy day for all athletes, be they male or female. And based on what we’ve seen, and how beloved the sport of football is all over the Kingdom, I believe we will see many more of our sisters getting involved in professional sports,” he said.

Saudi sports reporter Riyan Al-Jidani tweeted his support.

“To all my dear sisters participating the Women’s Football League, your success in the tournament is a step in the right direction towards our dream of universality and representing our homeland to the outside world. Raising the flag on the field is a glory and pride,” he said.

The tournament was due to start in March – but the coronavirus pandemic stopped play.

But for some that just presented the opportunity to up their game.

“We started preparations early, and the delay due to the pandemic actually worked in our favor. We were able to take more than two months to prepare for the tournament,” Maram Al-Butairi, general manager and head coach at Dammam-based Eastern Flames FC.

Amal Gimie, 26, an Eritrean midfielder for Jeddah’s Kings United, previously told Arab News that she had been playing the beautiful game since she was eight.

“There was a match every weekend. The boys made us play as goalkeepers in the beginning, and in 2002, when I first saw the Women’s World Cup, it sparked my passion to learn more about this sport,” said Gimie, who is also a management information systems graduate. She joined her first female football team, Challenge, in Riyadh in 2014.

She said: “It was the first time I joined something organized. I was happy to be playing but at the same time I felt as though it was an unreachable goal (to become a professional athlete or join an official league), I felt like I was growing older without achieving anything.”

The matches won’t be broadcast, but Saudi’s army of football fans remain excited by the tournament.

Wejdan Al-Shammary, who grew up playing sports in school, said she would have tried for a team “in a heartbeat” if she had been just a few years younger.

“I played both basketball and football on my high school teams. I was a complete sports nut, but it makes me happy to know that even if it’s too late for me to achieve those dreams, there’s a chance now for young Saudi girls that I never had,” she said.

Najla Ahmed, a 16-year-old from Riyadh who plays on her school’s football team, said she would try for a local team in 2021.

“I’ll be 17, and therefore eligible, and I would love to see anyone try and stop me,” she said.

Both women said they hoped this was just the start and that more sports would be opened up to women.

“Football is just the beginning. I would love to see more focus on other sports, as well. Basketball, tennis, maybe even competitive swimming,” said Al-Shammary. “I’m sure we have so many potential Olympians among us who just need their talents nurtured.”


Tyagi grabs dramatic 2-run win for Rajasthan in IPL

Tyagi grabs dramatic 2-run win for Rajasthan in IPL
Updated 32 sec ago

Tyagi grabs dramatic 2-run win for Rajasthan in IPL

Tyagi grabs dramatic 2-run win for Rajasthan in IPL
DUBAI, UAE: Fast bowler Kartik Tyagi conceded just one run and took two wickets in the last over of the game as Rajasthan Royals snatched a dramatic two-run victory against Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League on Tuesday.
Punjab needed only four runs off the last over, with plenty of wickets left, but Tyagi (2-29) had Nicholas Pooran (32) and Deepak Hooda both caught behind and managed to frustrate Fabian Allen (0 not out) off the last ball as Punjab finished at 183-4.
Earlier, Rajasthan slumped to 185 all out in 20 overs after being put in to bat. Punjab claimed seven wickets in the last six overs with fast bowler Arshdeep Singh ending up with 5-32.
“Tyagi was confident with his yorkers and executed them well against the new batters,” Rajasthan skipper Sanju Samson said. “We were happy with our score. On this wicket that was a good score.”
Punjab was heading for a big win after Rajasthan dropped Punjab captain K.L. Rahul three times. Mayank Agarwal (67) and Rahul (49) pounced on the sloppy fielding and provided their team a commanding start of 120 runs off 71 balls before both fell in successive overs.
Tyagi, who had earlier dropped Rahul on 31, finally grabbed one at short third man as Rahul tried to cut Chetan Sakariya in the 12th over. Agarwal, who hit seven fours and two sixes, tried to play one too many and sliced a catch at deep point against spinner Rahul Tewatia.
However, Pooran and South Africa’s Aiden Markram (26 not out) seemed to have the match in their hands before Tyagi delivered his sensational last over, which Punjab started on 182-2.
Earlier, Rajasthan looked set for a 200-plus total after opener Evin Lewis (36 off 21 balls) contributed to an opening stand of 54 by smashing seven fours and a six before he was out in the sixth over. But once fellow opener and top scorer Yashasvi Jaiswal fell for 49 in the 15th over, Rajasthan lost its way despite Mahipal Lomror (43) and Liam Livingstone (25) playing cameos.
Mohammed Shami also bowled well for his 3-21 that included the wickets of Tewatia and Chris Morris in his last over.
Rajasthan has eight points from eight games and is tied for fourth with defending champions Mumbai Indians. Punjab is in danger of missing out on the playoffs with only six points from nine games.
“Tough one to swallow,” Rahul said. “We need to see how we can handle pressure better. It’s happened to the best in the game.”

Princess Reham greets Saudi shooting team on return from successful 14th Asian air gun titles

Princess Reham greets Saudi shooting team on return from successful 14th Asian air gun titles
Updated 3 min 50 sec ago

Princess Reham greets Saudi shooting team on return from successful 14th Asian air gun titles

Princess Reham greets Saudi shooting team on return from successful 14th Asian air gun titles
  • Saudi Olympic Committee official congratulates athletes on winning individual and team medals

The Saudi Arabian national shooting team was greeted by Princess Reham bint Seif Al-Islam, Saudi Olympic Committee’s executive director of protocol and events, on its return from a successful participation at the 14th Asian Air Gun Championships 2021 in Kazakhstan.

After landing at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on Monday, the squad was congratulated on winning several team and individual medals in the tournament, which was held at Shymkent Shooting Plaza from Sept. 9-20.

The Saudi participation at the championship ended with Safar Mohammed Al-Dossari winning silver in the individual 10m air pistol competition.

Earlier in the competition Al-Dossari, Atallah Nidaa Al-Anazi and Aqil Abdulhadi Al-Badrani came second to the host nation in the team 10m air pistol event.

Hussein Al-Harbi, Misfir Al-Ammari and Fayez Al-Anzi won bronze in the team 10m air rifle category.


Saudi Olympic hero Tarek Hamdi joins training camp for 2021 world karate titles in Dubai

Saudi Olympic hero Tarek Hamdi joins training camp for 2021 world karate titles in Dubai
Updated 7 min 36 sec ago

Saudi Olympic hero Tarek Hamdi joins training camp for 2021 world karate titles in Dubai

Saudi Olympic hero Tarek Hamdi joins training camp for 2021 world karate titles in Dubai
  • National coach Mounir Afkir picks 21 athletes for the November tournament

The Saudi Arabian national karate team, led by Tokyo 2020 silver medal hero Tarek Hamdi, has begun preparations for the 2021 World Karate Championships to be held in Dubai from Nov. 16-21.

Coach of the Saudi national team Mounir Afkir selected 21 players for the squad heading to the UAE: Hamdi, Fahd Al-Khathami, Imad Al-Maliki, Badr Al-Otaibi, Faraj Al-Nashiri, Omar Al-Azmi, Yasser Al-Barqi, Mazen Al-Duqail, Majed Al-Khalifa, Sultan Al-Zahrani and Al-Hussein Al-Sharif, Khaled Al-Sheikhi, Abd Al-Rahman Hafs, Ali Barnawi, Muhammad Al-Thubaiti, Fahd Hakami, Muhammad Al-Maliki, Haitham Hafs, Misfir Al-Dossari, Abdullah Hakami and Abdullah Al-Nasir.

The Saudi karatekas will begin their preparation program with daily morning and evening training sessions at their Riyadh hotel.


Hungary gets 1-match fan ban, $217,000 FIFA fine for racism

Hungary gets 1-match fan ban, $217,000 FIFA fine for racism
Updated 21 September 2021

Hungary gets 1-match fan ban, $217,000 FIFA fine for racism

Hungary gets 1-match fan ban, $217,000 FIFA fine for racism
  • Monkey chants were aimed at England forward Raheem Sterling and unused substitute Jude Bellingham on Sept. 2
  • The Hungarian federation was fined 200,000 Swiss francs

LONDON: Hungary was ordered by FIFA on Tuesday to play its next World Cup qualifier without spectators as punishment for the latest racial abuse by its supporters when England played in Budapest.
Monkey chants were aimed at England forward Raheem Sterling and unused substitute Jude Bellingham, who are Black, at Puskas Arena on Sept. 2.
The Hungarian federation was also fined 200,000 Swiss francs ($217,000), one of the largest financial penalties handed out to a country by the world governing body.
In a sign of a systemic problem with racism from Hungarian fans, the punishment extends the country’s run of games in empty stadiums because of racism in qualifiers for the 2014 and 2022 World Cups and Euro 2016.
The team will have to play another FIFA match without a crowd if there are future incidents of abuse, with the second match of the punishment being suspended for a probationary period of two years.
“The FIFA ban on Hungary for racism and the huge fine is welcome and a signal from FIFA of a renewed determination to punish racism,” Piara Powar, executive director of the anti-racism FARE network, told The Associated Press. “But this also means that Hungary will serve bans from two different football governing bodies at European and international level at the same time, the principle of escalation has not been applied, it will not deal with the problem of racism inside Hungarian stadiums longer term.”
Hungary’s Sept. 2 match against England in Budapest would already have been played without spectators had FIFA been asked to implement a UEFA punishment t for discriminatory abuse during European Championship matches. That two-game ban on spectators will take effect next June during the Nations League.
Hungary will have to host Albania on Oct. 9 in an empty stadium in its next World Cup qualifier.
“This case highlights the need to make sure that regulations that ensure a consistency of approach across governing bodies are in place,” Powar said. “If all Hungarian offenses had been taken into account they would be facing exclusion from the World Cup, and remedial measures would have been put in place. There should be better co-ordination between confederations, such as UEFA, and FIFA, to coordinate action.
In this case UEFA should have asked FIFA to apply their previous sanction and the Hungary vs. England match played behind closed doors. An administrative loophole has allowed racism to flourish.”
FIFA’s disciplinary committee ruled there had been “racist behavior of numerous supporters” during the England match this month that was played in front of a crowd of almost 60,000 at Puskas Arena.
The verdict came “after analizing and taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case, specifically the seriousness of the incidents,” FIFA said in a statement highlighting “racist words and actions, throwing of objects, lighting of fireworks, blocked stairways” by Hungary fans.
FIFA’s claim to adopt a “clear zero tolerance stance against such abhorrent behavior in football” was challenged by English football’s anti-racism organization.
“What does zero tolerance approach even mean? Words that read good in print but we’ll never actually adhere to them,” tweeted Kick It Out’s head of development Troy Townsend. “Anyway, we have our own problems and don’t even go this far with punishments.”


Italian boxer of Moroccan origin beats Nazi-tattooed rival

Italian boxer of Moroccan origin beats Nazi-tattooed rival
Updated 21 September 2021

Italian boxer of Moroccan origin beats Nazi-tattooed rival

Italian boxer of Moroccan origin beats Nazi-tattooed rival
  • Hassan Nourdine: Michele Broili’s tattoos ‘disgusted me … I had more of a taste to win’
  • Nourdine gained Italian super-featherweight title on points

LONDON: An Italian boxer born in Morocco has claimed victory over a fighter whose body is tattooed with Nazi symbols.

Hassan Nourdine, 34, beat Michele Broili, 28, on points to win the Italian super-featherweight title in the northeastern city of Trieste.

Nourdine, who moved to the Italian town of Asti with his parents when he was 6, said Broili’s tattoos motivated him to win.

“I tried to stay focused and undistracted the whole evening, but seeing Broili’s tattoos glorifying Nazism disgusted me, not to mention the spectators giving stiff-armed fascist salutes,” Nourdine told Italy’s La Stampa newspaper. “I wanted to have a good fight and given the situation I had more of a taste to win.”

He said the Federazione Pugilistica Italiana, Italian boxing’s governing body should not allow Broili to compete due to his tattoos.

“They should have realized this boxer had certain leanings — the incitement of hatred is punishable by law,” Nourdine added.

“Anyone who has been to school knows what the Nazis did, and even those who didn’t go to school know what the Holocaust was.”

Broili’s tattoos include the SS logo, a Celtic cross and the number 88, neo-Nazi shorthand for the expression “Heil Hitler.” 

Nourdine, who works night shifts at a factory making industrial machinery to support his family and boxing career, said: “You need to make young people understand these are dangerous messages. You need to remind them these symbols encouraged genocide.”

After the fight, the FPI said it was considering action against Broili for his tattoos.