Welsh football association becomes 1st footballing body to adopt Muslim Athlete Charter

Welsh football association becomes 1st footballing body to adopt Muslim Athlete Charter
Wales’ Ethan Ampadu and teammates celebrate after defeating Hungary 2 – 0 in a Euro 2020 qualifier at Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, Britain, Nov. 19, 2019. (Reuters)
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Updated 20 October 2021

Welsh football association becomes 1st footballing body to adopt Muslim Athlete Charter

Welsh football association becomes 1st footballing body to adopt Muslim Athlete Charter
  • Charter sees specific needs of Muslim athletes, fans addressed at club, association levels
  • ‘It’s a great day for Muslims living in Great Britain’: Man behind charter

LONDON: The Football Association of Wales has become the first footballing body to adopt a charter that recognizes the specific needs of Muslim athletes, staff, and fans of the game.

Proposed by Nujum Sports, the Muslim Athlete Charter aims to encourage clubs and governing bodies to commit to “equality and diversity for all.”

Ebadur Rahman, the founder of Nujum Sports, told Arab News that there were now 34 professional sporting clubs signed up to the charter, including six English Premier League and 22 Football League clubs.

He said: “It’s a great day for Muslims living in Great Britain, and I think it shows how far we’ve come as a nation. We hope it encourages greater participation from Muslims in Wales in football, specifically, and fans as well. I hope this is the beginning of something even greater.”

And Rahman revealed that talks were already taking place with rugby, cricket, archery, and athletics associations and bodies about adoption of the charter.

The FAW’s equality, diversity, inclusion, and integrity manager, Jason Webber, told BBC Sport: “By utilizing the Muslim Athlete Charter framework and working closely with Nujum Sports, we will ensure that Muslim players are supported in their environment to practice their faith while playing football.

“Someone’s religion and belief should not be a barrier, and everyone should be supported within an inclusive environment so they can be themselves.

“We believe that football is a place where everyone should feel that they belong and signing the charter moves us closer to achieving this vision,” he added.


Covid hits Williams F1 team ahead of Saudi Grand Prix

Covid hits Williams F1 team ahead of Saudi Grand Prix
Updated 5 sec ago

Covid hits Williams F1 team ahead of Saudi Grand Prix

Covid hits Williams F1 team ahead of Saudi Grand Prix
  • Team Principal Jost Capito tests positive for Covid before traveling to Jeddah, Williams ‘team will continue to operate trackside as planned’
  • Still mourning the loss of founder Frank Williams, the team goes to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit having garnered 23 points so far this season
PARIS: Williams’ Team Principal Jost Capito has tested positive for Covid before traveling to Jeddah for this weekend’s Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, the British Formula One outfit announced Thursday.
“Jost is now following UK national health authority guidelines,” the team said in a statement. “There has been no wider impact on Williams Racing personnel and the team will continue to operate trackside as planned.”
Still mourning the loss of founder Frank Williams, the team goes to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit having garnered just 23 points so far this season.
The penultimate round of the 2021 World Championship season sees Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton of Britain clinging to the tail of Dutch championship leader Max Verstappen of Red Bull with just eight points separating the pair.

Eriksen uses Danish training field as part of rehabilitation

Eriksen uses Danish training field as part of rehabilitation
Updated 28 min ago

Eriksen uses Danish training field as part of rehabilitation

Eriksen uses Danish training field as part of rehabilitation
  • The 29-year-old midfielder is using a field at Odense Boldklub
  • Eriksen has not played since falling face-first onto the field during Denmark’s opening match

COPENHAGEN, Denmark: Christian Eriksen has resumed training in Denmark as part of his rehabilitation after suffering a cardiac arrest at the European Championship.
The 29-year-old midfielder is using a field at Odense Boldklub, the club where he started his career before playing for Ajax, Tottenham and most recently Inter Milan before collapsing while playing for Denmark in June.
“Christian Eriksen is using our pitch to rehabilitate,” Odense Boldklub told The Associated Press on Thursday. “He asked us if he could use our pitch to train, which we approved.”
Eriksen is not practicing with the squad of the top-division Superliga club, located 170 kilometers (105 miles) west of Copenhagen, it said.
Eriksen has not played since falling face-first onto the field during Denmark’s opening match at the European Championship against Finland on June 12. His teammates formed a protective wall around him as medical workers resuscitated him with a defibrillator.
Eriksen spent a week in the hospital, where he had a type of pacemaker fitted. Depending on the cause of the cardiac arrest and the nature of his treatment, he could be prohibited from playing in Italy with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator but could continue his career in countries where the rules are different.
There is no indication when Eriksen could resume playing. He remains under contract at Inter Milan. He’s made 109 appearances for Denmark.


ICC slices up events cake as dates and locations for next cycle of short-format men’s tournaments are announced

ICC slices up events cake as dates and locations for next cycle of short-format men’s tournaments are announced
Updated 02 December 2021

ICC slices up events cake as dates and locations for next cycle of short-format men’s tournaments are announced

ICC slices up events cake as dates and locations for next cycle of short-format men’s tournaments are announced
  • With cricket’s image increasingly tarnished in recent times, the ICC’s close-knit venue selection methods would benefit from greater transparency

No sooner had Australia’s name been etched on the T20 Men’s trophy on Nov. 14 than the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced the host venues for the next cycle of short-format men’s tournaments.

Venues for women’s tournaments are awaited.

The men’s cycle, running between 2024 and 2031, comprises 50-over One-Day International (ODI) World Cups, expanded to 14 teams; Twenty20 World Cups, expanded to 20 teams; and Champions Trophy competitions. The venues are summarised below and reveal some intriguing results.

First, the allocation of the 2024 T20 World Cup to a combination of the West Indies and the USA represents a boost for both the ailing finances in the Caribbean and the ambitions to expand the game in the US, where the ICC hopes cricket will feature in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

Secondly, India has been granted three of the eight men’s tournaments. Although two of them are co-hosted, respectively, with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the award of these hostings, when added to India’s sole hosting of the 2023 ODI tournament in October/November 2023, provides further proof, if it was ever required, of India’s influence in world cricket.

Year ICC Event (Men) Host(s) * Full Members
2024 T20 World Cup USA, West Indies*
2025 Champions Trophy Pakistan*
2026 T20 World Cup India*, Sri Lanka*
2027 ODI World Cup South Africa*, Zimbabwe*, Namibia
2028 T20 World Cup Australia*, New Zealand*
2029 Champions Trophy India
2030 T20 World Cup England*, Ireland*, Scotland
2031 ODI World Cup India, Bangladesh*

 

Thirdly, England has only one hosting, with that being shared with Scotland and Ireland. This distant event in 2030 will mean an interval of eleven years between England’s last major hosting, that of the ODI World Cup in 2019. Some may interpret this as a loss of influence.

Fourthly, Pakistan has been selected to host the 2025 Champions Trophy. This 50-over tournament between the top eight ranked teams has been re-instated. It will be Pakistan’s first ICC tournament since 1996 and will be a boon for its enthusiastic fans, who were denied the opportunity to watch international cricket at home this year when both New Zealand and England abandoned their visits.

Fifthly, reflecting its recent achievements in reaching the Super12 Stage of the 2021 T20 World Cup, Namibia will co-host the 2027 ODI World Cup with South Africa and Zimbabwe.

In its official announcement of the venues, the ICC stated that this was the first time that a competitive bidding process had been adopted for ICC events and that 14 members hosting eight events reflected the global nature of the sport.

Closer inspection suggests that a more tortuous process had been followed. The decision to introduce a bidding mechanism had been made at an ICC meeting in October 2019. It reflected the ICC’s aim to make the game more global, by opening the opportunity for any member – full or associate - to bid to host ICC events. In the previous eight-year cycle, all major men’s events had been allocated to the “big three,” Australia, England and India, so the bidding process represented a shift in philosophy.

This did not sit well with the big three. India, in particular, was concerned that cricket, especially Tests, played between two countries, would suffer. It appeared to regard re-instating the Champions Trophy as unnecessary. In February 2020, to India’s apparent annoyance, the ICC emailed all members asking them to tender their expressions of interest for hosting any of the 20 global events in men’s and women’s cricket between 2024-31 by March 15, 2020.

Once these had been received, the ICC planned to use the choices to shape the timing and location of the events in the cycle. Then a formal Request for Proposal process would be opened for six months. A host of eligibility criteria was drawn up, including the required infrastructure to stage the events, the current cricketing eco-system in the market, the growth potential and development of infrastructure in place, along with guarantees placed in relation to visas, tax exemptions, customs and security.

The onset of the pandemic caused a hiatus in the process, which resumed in February this year, followed by an announcement in early June, specifying that the ICC Board would select the event hosts, rather than through an open bidding process. The change in tack seemed to turn on an argument that only a few, probably referring to three, members had the necessary infrastructure and skillsets to host the largest events. It may also reflect changes in senior personnel in both the ICC and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

By July, 17 member nations had expressed interest, with the 10 full members submitting preliminary technical proposals. The second stage of the process would involve more detailed proposals which allow the board to make final decisions.

It delegated the overseeing of host venue selection to a three-man sub-committee. This comprised three members of the main ICC Board — the chair from New Zealand, the president of Cricket West Indies and the BCCI president, who became chair of the ICC Men’s Cricket Committee this November.

It is not clear how the members of this committee were chosen, nor is it clear what the criteria were for the final selection of hosts. The results clearly benefit India but not so much the other two of the big three. The ICC has achieved a wider global spread of events in line with its strategy. This is likely to be further enhanced once it completes a similar process and announces, in early 2022, the hosts for the women’s and Under 19’s events in the next cycle.

At present, cricket’s image is tarnished, its conduct under scrutiny. In the UK, this is for its racism scandal. Cricket Australia is in the dock for an alleged lack of probity relating to its handling of captaincy appointments. The BCCI has long been accused of wielding too much power within the game.

In this environment, the ICC’s close-knit venue selection methods would benefit from greater transparency.


Racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart: Saudis have done amazing job on Jeddah Corniche Circuit

Racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart: Saudis have done amazing job on Jeddah Corniche Circuit
Updated 02 December 2021

Racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart: Saudis have done amazing job on Jeddah Corniche Circuit

Racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart: Saudis have done amazing job on Jeddah Corniche Circuit

JEDDAH: Three-time Formula One champion Sir Jackie Stewart has come out to praise the “amazing job” done by Saudi Arabia in completing the construction of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, the venue for the highly-anticipated Saudi Grand Prix from Dec. 3 to 5.

The British former F1 driver from Scotland — nicknamed the “Flying Scot” — spoke to Arab News during the special reception held in the gardens of the British Consulate in Jeddah to celebrate the inaugural Saudi Grand Prix.

“It is wonderful to have the Grand Prix in the country and it is going to be an international success,” he said. 

On his second visit to Saudi Arabia, Sir Jackie described the transformation taking place in the Kingdom as bold and visionary: “The last time I was here (was) almost nine years ago, but it seems this time a lot of things have changed in Saudi Arabia and I see a very developed country which has a good future and it is obvious.”

He continued: “I think Saudi Arabia succeeded in hosting F1 and this will attract the world to see more of Saudi Arabia.”

He said the Jeddah circuit was amazing when you consider the timescale in which the track has been put together.

“On Tuesday, I had the chance to drive on it and it is a great track. It has a nice flow to it, a wide variety of corners, and is really good to drive. I don’t think I’ve ever driven on such a fast circuit before with so many high-speed corners, so I think it will be quite a challenge for drivers this weekend.”

He added: “I enjoyed my first real taste of the new circuit, I think F1 track designer Carsten Tilke has done a great job.”

The 82-year-old managed to claim three F1 World Championships between 1969 and 1973, with 99 race starts before he retired in 1973, aged just 34.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s big race, the racing legend pointed out that the fight for the Drivers’ World Championship remains close between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

“To be first, you first have to cross the finish line first, it is going to be a tough challenge between Hamilton and Verstappen and we all look forward for the race.”


Speed innovation: How Saudi university lab is helping McLaren lap F1 field

Speed innovation: How Saudi university lab is helping McLaren lap F1 field
Updated 02 December 2021

Speed innovation: How Saudi university lab is helping McLaren lap F1 field

Speed innovation: How Saudi university lab is helping McLaren lap F1 field
  • Unique partnership with top racing team sees KAUST technological expertise play out on Grand Prix circuit, winners’ podium

JEDDAH: When McLaren Racing teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris finished first and second in September’s Italian Grand Prix, the gap between them was just 1.747 seconds.

If either had run just a few seconds slower at Monza, Formula 1’s fastest track, they would have tumbled off the winner’s podium and into the middle of the pack.

That is why F1 teams spend tens of millions of dollars annually tweaking their cars’ aerodynamics, fuel combustion, and telemetry – all in pursuit of an edge worth hundredths of a second per lap.

But when all 10 teams line up on the grid in Jeddah on Dec. 5 for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – on the fastest street circuit ever, with estimated average speeds of 252 kmh (156 mph) – only McLaren will possess a home-grown advantage.

In 2018, the team signed a five-year research partnership deal with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology – the Saudi equivalent of MIT – to treat its vehicles as living laboratories. In exchange, KAUST’s students and faculty would bring their expertise in software, sensors, and chemistry to bear on a unique challenge: Navigating the corners and straightaways of Jeddah’s corniche a few seconds faster than everyone else.

Matteo Parsani, assistant professor of applied mathematics and computational science at KAUST, said: “Why is an F1 car faster around the track than a Grand Prix motorcycle, which can also achieve speeds of 300 kmh? Aerodynamics. The manipulation of air around the vehicle is the single biggest differentiator in F1.”

Greater downforce, for example, enables drivers to corner turns at higher speeds, which comes in handy on a course with 27 turns.

Traditionally, teams turned to wind-tunnel testing, which was both costly and time-consuming. More recently, F1 has embraced computational fluid dynamics, which harnesses supercomputing-level processing power to massively simulate and optimize airflow over surfaces. Brute force will take teams only so far, however.

The sport’s voluminous regulations include strict caps on the number of central processing unit hours they can use, which means the most elegant algorithm wins the day. To that end, Parsani and his colleagues in KAUST’s Extreme Computing Research Center have licensed to McLaren the exclusive use of their state-of-the-art solver, which succeeds where off-the-shelf tools fail in accurately modeling turbulent air flow – the bane of drivers.

AN AMBITIOUS JOURNEY

Aerodynamics is only one arm of the partnership’s ambitious agenda, which has expanded in scope from on-track performance to assisting with McLaren’s decade-long commitment to carbon neutrality and support of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.

Mark Barnett, director of research and innovation at McLaren Racing, said: “KAUST’s world-class research and development facilities, faculty leaders, and desire to combine emerging technologies with sustainability initiatives continues to help our team on our ambitious journey.”

But what originally drew the team to KAUST was a question of fuel. Just as F1 regulates how many teraflops teams can use, each car is allotted a maximum of 110 kilograms (29.06 gallons) of fuel. This means teams must strive to extract every joule from every drop, which, depending on the course and conditions, changes from race to race.

Mani Sarathy, associate director of KAUST’s Clean Combustion Research Center, said: “We help McLaren determine optimal fuel combustion by providing them with candidate formulations and the tools.”

Just as Parsani’s group has substituted simulation for wind tunnels, Sarathy’s team uses machine learning to identify candidates for field testing.

One area where KAUST has been able to contribute outside of the lab has been in sensors.

The advent of real-time telemetry in the 1980s transformed F1, as torrents of new data spurred on the optimization of nearly everything. Today’s cars are festooned with hundreds of sensors transmitting gigabytes of data about speed, airflow, engine temperature, braking, exhaust, and much, much more. The weight of those sensors quickly adds up, however, prompting teams to seek yet another infinitesimal edge in swapping them for ones made with ultra-lightweight materials.

As part of that effort, a team of KAUST students was dispatched to observe McLaren Racing in action at the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Watching the team meticulously prepare for its practice laps, Altynay Kaidarova, a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering, saw first-hand the incredible stresses placed on the car, including extreme G-forces and internal temperatures reaching several hundred degrees Celsius.

Upon returning to KAUST, under the watchful eye of her supervisor Prof. Jurgen Kosel, she set out to “develop customized sensors by exploiting our cutting-edge fabrication technologies.”

Kaidarova’s material of choice was graphene – atom-thick sheets of pure carbon 100-times stronger (and lighter) than steel, and nearly as difficult and expensive to forge.

Her solution was to 3-D-print them, creating a process that enabled her to adapt sensors designed by colleagues to measure strain, airflow, and inertia to survive the extreme environments faced by an F1 car, both inside and out.

She said: “Our aim is to incorporate graphene-enhanced wireless sensors to simultaneously obtain parameters such as force, pressure, and temperature from multiple points around the car.”

TECH BEYOND THE TRACK

These sensors have uses far beyond the track, too. Just as McLaren Racing spun out McLaren Applied to employ its research and development in other industries, the KAUST faculty is eager to see its work with the team pay dividends in the classroom and beyond.

Sarathy’s group is collaborating with Hyundai to design more fuel-efficient engines, while Parsani’s CFD solver is being put to work by NASA.

Kaidarova mounted graphene sensors on marine animals to deliver data both on behavior and an expanded suite of environmental conditions relevant to marine ecosystem health in Oceanographic of Valencia, the largest complex of its type in Europe.

But first, their contributions must prove themselves on the winding streets of Jeddah – and, McLaren hopes, might prove the margin of victory.

Parsani noted that F1 was the ultimate crucible for KAUST or any engineering university.

“Students are exposed to a real industrial project in a real setting. It’s a unique opportunity to watch our research start as pen-and-paper, see it evolve into algorithms, and finally apply it to one of the most complicated devices humanity has ever made,” he added.

No one could ask for a better classroom than a F1 track. The final exam is Sunday.