Al Jazira claim third Arabian Gulf League title on last day of the season

Al Jazira claim third Arabian Gulf League title on last day of the season
Al-Jazira's players and staff celebrate the Arabian Gulf League triumph after beating Khorfakkan 3-1 in Abu Dhabi. (AGL)
Short Url
Updated 12 May 2021

Al Jazira claim third Arabian Gulf League title on last day of the season

Al Jazira claim third Arabian Gulf League title on last day of the season
  • Abu Dhabi club’s 3-1 win over Khorfakkan see them hold off the challenge of Baniyas

ABU DHABI: Al-Jazira are the new champions of the UAE after claiming the Arabian Gulf League title on the last day of the season with 3-1 win over Khorfakkan at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al-Nuaimi, chairman of the United Arab Emirates Football Association, crowned the winners of the Arabian Gulf League following a tense title race that saw underdogs Baniyas chase down Al-Jazira to the end.

Also present at the ceremony was Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, vice president of Al Jazira Club, chairman of the board executive committee, as club captain Ali Khaseif raised the trophy.

“This title win is especially significant as it has been a unique season on and off the pitch,” Al-Jaber said.

“Despite playing without fans in our stadium and other Covid related challenges, we managed to play great football with unyielding positivity, passion and teamwork to win a league title that the Al Jazira family has been pursuing since 2016-2017.”

This is Al-Jazira’s first title win since 2016-2017 and sees the club end the season on 57 points.

Led by Dutch manager Marcel Keizer, the ‘Pride of Abu Dhabi’ fielded the youngest team in the league across the 2020-21 season, scoring 65 goals and conceding just 29 in 26 matches.

Thanks to his 25 goals, UAE international Ali Mabkhout claimed the Golden Boot for leading the goal-scorers chart and now stands just four goals short of becoming the all-time top scorer in the league’s history.

“I am so very proud of all the players, technical staff and everyone associated with the club for their hard work and dedication, culminating in a success, of which we should all be proud,” said Al-Jaber.

“I also want to commend sporting director Mads Davidsen, head coach Marcel Keizer, team director Hussein Suhail and the rest of the support staff, who built a squad that exemplified our philosophy of developing young talent from our academy.

He reserved a special mention to the club's supporters.

“At Al Jazira, we always strive to win every title. It is what the ‘Pride of Abu Dhabi’ passionate fans deserve. And today, we celebrate the return of the Arabian Gulf League trophy to Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium, the home of victories and titles,” Al-Jabber said.

“I would like to dedicate this victory to our fans and thank them for their unconditional support throughout the season. I would also like to acknowledge the club’s many partners. Every member of the Club family appreciates their support.”


Jordan advances to 2021 FIFA Arab Cup after qualifier against COVID-19-hit South Sudan abandoned

Jordan advances to 2021 FIFA Arab Cup after qualifier against COVID-19-hit South Sudan abandoned
Updated 55 min 6 sec ago

Jordan advances to 2021 FIFA Arab Cup after qualifier against COVID-19-hit South Sudan abandoned

Jordan advances to 2021 FIFA Arab Cup after qualifier against COVID-19-hit South Sudan abandoned
  • African nation forfeits match 3-0 after 7 players test positive for virus before match in Doha

DUBAI: Monday night’s FIFA Arab Cup qualifier between Jordan and South Sudan was abandoned after the confirmation of COVID-19 cases among the latter’s delegation.

As reported by the Asian Football Confederation’s official website, the FIFA Bureau for Men’s Senior Tournaments declared the match a forfeit with a 3-0 win to Jordan, which now advances to the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup taking place in Qatar between Nov. 27 and Dec. 18.

Upon their arrival in Qatar for the match, and as per the protocols established by its Ministry of Health, the delegations of both teams were tested for COVID-19.

After two rounds of polymerase chain reaction tests, it was confirmed that seven players and one team member of South Sudan were positive, with another five players receiving a reactive test result, meaning they were likely incubating the virus.

Given that another seven players had close contact with those who tested positive, a total of 19 players are currently in isolation.

There are no cases presenting severe symptoms, and everyone who tested positive is being monitored and receiving medical care for free through Qatar’s national healthcare system. 


MoU signed to promote healthy lifestyles in King Abdullah Financial District

MoU signed to promote healthy lifestyles in King Abdullah Financial District
Updated 22 June 2021

MoU signed to promote healthy lifestyles in King Abdullah Financial District

MoU signed to promote healthy lifestyles in King Abdullah Financial District
  • Signatories are KAFD CEO and president of Saudi Sports for All Federation

RIYADH: The Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) and King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), represented by CEO Gautam Sashittal, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to create a framework of cooperation that promotes active and healthy lifestyles in the district.

The MoU was signed in a ceremony at the Conference Center in KAFD, and was attended by resident SFA President Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al-Saud.

The SFA and KAFD will work together to create a healthy community for residents and visitors by designing a program of initiatives focused on health and wellness.

Simultaneously, an action plan will be carried through to benefit from KAFD’s facilities to host workshops and community sports activities. 

“Our agreement with KAFD is an important new milestone in our journey to create a health-first mindset in Saudi Arabia and ensure that physical activity is attractive and accessible for all our communities,” said Prince Khaled.

“We are looking forward to working collaboratively with KAFD to find ways of turning the district into a hub for sports and physical activity, while creating a grassroots culture of corporate and residential wellbeing,” he added.

“The district is forward-looking in its purpose and design, and we are excited about exploring new ways of engaging and enriching our communities together.”

The partnership will look to add to existing work with local and national entities — such as the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing, and the Saudi Data and AI Authority (SDAIA) — to achieve its goal of a healthier, more active Kingdom.

As part of its support for the Quality of Life Program, the SFA in early 2021 launched its Start Now campaign, calling residents of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to engage in physical activity.

It also recently launched a T20 cricket tournament and the Ehsan Steps Challenge in partnership with SDAIA, encouraging people to step forward for charity.

The SFA is also actively working with local authorities across the Kingdom to activate public spaces and parks to host community-oriented sporting activities.

“As an extension to the strategic goals of Vision 2030, lifestyle and liveability are two main elements that elevate quality of life,” said Sashittal.

“These two elements are extremely crucial in creating a vibrant society with a healthy and active lifestyle. KAFD embodies these elements, and that is clearly manifested by the advanced infrastructure and urban planning when it comes to liveability. Moreover, when it comes to lifestyle, KAFD is designed with people in mind, and it encourages walkability and being physically active,” he added.

“Therefore, we are pleased to partner with the SFA to explore ways in which we can foster a new culture focused on health and green living. We are looking forward to working collaboratively to turn the KAFD into a hub of new ideas and initiatives to promote a healthy lifestyle.

“The size, scope and ambition of KAFD adds strategic significance to the agreement and boosts the role of KAFD as a center for sustainability in the region, hence its advanced infrastructure, smart urban planning and human-centered approach.”


Baumgartner sends Austria into last 16 with win over Ukraine

Baumgartner sends Austria into last 16 with win over Ukraine
Updated 21 June 2021

Baumgartner sends Austria into last 16 with win over Ukraine

Baumgartner sends Austria into last 16 with win over Ukraine
  • Austria plays Italy at Wembley on June 26 after advancing at a major tournament for 1st time since 1982 World Cup
  • “We wanted to write history, we did it, those are the great moments of football," said coach Franco Foda

BUCHAREST: Christoph Baumgartner’s first-half goal sent Austria through to the last 16 of Euro 2020 on Monday after a 1-0 win over Ukraine that left their opponents facing an anxious wait to see if they qualify.
Hoffenheim midfielder Baumgartner turned in David Alaba’s corner on 21 minutes in Bucharest as Austria pipped Ukraine to second place in Group C behind the Netherlands, who eased past North Macedonia 3-0 in Amsterdam.
Austria will play Italy at Wembley on June 26 after advancing from the opening round at a major tournament for the first time since the 1982 World Cup.
“I can’t quite comprehend it all, my head is really hurting! This is really special for all of us,” Baumgartner told Austrian broadcaster ORF.
“The emotions right after the match were great. We wanted to write history, we did it, those are the great moments of football,” said coach Franco Foda.
Ukraine, eliminated in the group stage at the past two European Championships, must wait to find out if they advance as one of the four best third-placed teams.
“I have no idea yet what to expect or what will happen,” said Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko.
“We’ve have to wait until the last games. If we’ve the slightest chance we have to be ready.”
Shevchenko had ruled out his Ukraine team playing for the draw they needed to finish as runners-up, having snapped a run of six straight losses at the competition with their 2-1 win over North Macedonia.
Marko Arnautovic was recalled to the Austria line-up after the forward missed the 2-0 defeat by the Netherlands while serving a one-match ban for insulting a North Macedonia player in their opening game.
Needing victory to be assured of a place in the next round, Austria went ahead as Baumgartner beat 18-year-old defender Illia Zabarnyi to Alaba’s corner and poked beyond Georgiy Bushchan.
Ukraine came close to an equalizer when Mykola Shaparenko drew a good low save from Daniel Bachmann, the rebound just eluding a lunging Andriy Yarmolenko, who had scored in the first two group games.
Baumgartner’s evening ended prematurely due to injury and his replacement Alessandro Schopf soon set up Arnautovic, the former Stoke man dribbling wide moments after Konrad Laimer’s curling effort was punched away by Bushchan.
Austria nearly handed Ukraine a way back into the match when Stefan Lainer headed Viktor Tsygankov’s free-kick toward his own goal, but Bachmann reacted well to preserve the victory and a spot in the knockout phase.


Maguire ready to return for England’s Czech showdown

Maguire ready to return for England’s Czech showdown
Updated 21 June 2021

Maguire ready to return for England’s Czech showdown

Maguire ready to return for England’s Czech showdown
  • Manchester United defender Harry Maguire didn’t play in England's first two matches
  • "Obviously with the ankle injury, it's getting stronger, I'm getting more confident," said Maguire

LONDON: Harry Maguire says he is fit to feature for England in their decisive Euro 2020 Group D clash against the Czech Republic on Tuesday.
Manchester United defender Maguire did not play in England’s first two matches against Croatia and Scotland as he recovers from ankle ligament damage sustained against Aston Villa in May.
England manager Gareth Southgate included the center-back in his Euro squad in the belief he would be back in time to play some part in the tournament.
Maguire was on the bench for Friday’s 0-0 draw against Scotland and now he is ready to return to action for the Czech showdown at Wembley.
“I’m feeling good. Obviously with the ankle injury, it’s getting stronger, I’m getting more confident,” Maguire told The Lions’ Den.
“The more sessions I do, the more games I play, I’m sure I’ll get more confidence and that’s the thing with these type of injuries.
“I think it’s just about building the confidence. It’s all stable now and I’m available and I’m ready to go.”
England will finish top of Group D if they beat the Czechs and Maguire urged his side to get back on track after the drab Scotland stalemate.
“The boys have put ourselves in a great position in the group — four points from two games — although obviously we want to win every football match so we’d like to be on six,” he said.
“But it’s still in a strong position and now it’s another big game against the Czechs and one we’re looking forward to and we go there and try and get three points.”


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 22 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.