Retire? It has not crossed my mind, says Messi

Retire? It has not crossed my mind, says Messi
Paris Saint-Germain's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi. (AFP)
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Updated 02 November 2021

Retire? It has not crossed my mind, says Messi

Retire? It has not crossed my mind, says Messi
  • The six-time Ballon D’Or winner will be 35 by the time the World Cup — a trophy that has eluded him through his stellar career — comes round in Qatar next year

MADRID: Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi says he has not given any thought about retiring after next year’s World Cup adding he would love to be Barcelona sporting director when he does finally hang up his boots.

The six-time Ballon D’Or winner will be 35 by the time the World Cup — a trophy that has eluded him through his stellar career — comes round in Qatar next year.

Messi is tied to French Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain untill June 2023 — with the option of an extra year — after leaving his beloved Barcelona in August.

He told Monday’s edition of Catalan newspaper Sport retirement was not on his agenda.

“No, truthfully no,” he said regarding hanging up his boots.

“After all that has happened to me, I just live day to day, year after year.

“I do not know what is going to happen at the World Cup or after it.

“I am not thinking about it.

“What will be will be at that moment.”

Messi added that leaving Barcelona after almost two decades had been a huge wrench but he will return one day to live there and even perhaps be the sporting director of the club.

Xavi, his long-time teammate during the glory years at Barca — winning among other silverware four Champions League trophies — is the favorite to return to the club as head coach following the sacking of Ronald Koeman last week.

“We will return to live in Barcelona, our life will be there, that is for sure,” he said.

“It is what both my wife and I want.

“I do not know if it will be straight after the end of my contract with Paris, but we will return to live in Barcelona.

“I would love to be sporting director at some point.

“I do not know if it will be at Barcelona or not, or I will fill another role.

“But if there is a possibility, I would love to help the club.”

Messi has as of yet failed to sparkle at PSG and he told Sport his and his family’s greatest desire was to stay at Barca.

Messi joined PSG after Barca decided not to renew the Argentinian’s contract due to La Liga’s strict salary limits.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said in October he hoped Messi would change his mind and play for free.

Messi, though, said that had never been tabled as an option.

“I did everything I could to stay there,” he said.

“Never at any point did they ask me to play for free.

“They asked me to reduce my salary by 50 percent and I did that no problem.

“We were willing to help the club.

“My desire and that of my family was to stay in Barcelona.”


Chelsea 2 Tottenham 2: ‘Fair tackle’ as Tuchel insists no hard feelings after Conte clash

Chelsea 2 Tottenham 2: ‘Fair tackle’ as Tuchel insists no hard feelings after Conte clash
Updated 14 August 2022

Chelsea 2 Tottenham 2: ‘Fair tackle’ as Tuchel insists no hard feelings after Conte clash

Chelsea 2 Tottenham 2: ‘Fair tackle’ as Tuchel insists no hard feelings after Conte clash
  • Conte’s overexuberant celebrations of Spurs’ first equalizer resulted in the two coaches being booked for squaring up
  • Tuchel was not happy at the Italian for not making eye contact during a handshake at full-time

LONDON: Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he was happy to take a “fair tackle” from Tottenham boss Antonio Conte after both were shown red cards for clashing twice during a heated 2-2 on Sunday.
Conte’s overexuberant celebrations of Spurs’ first equalizer resulted in the two coaches being booked for squaring up.
Tuchel then responded by running down the touchline in celebration when Chelsea retook the lead through Reece James 13 minutes from time.
But Harry Kane’s 96th minute equalizer meant Conte had the last laugh.
Tuchel was not happy at the Italian for not making eye contact during a handshake at full-time, which sparked another melee between both sets of coaches and players.
“It was hot from the temperature and hot between the benches and hot on the field and hot between the spectators,” said Tuchel with temperatures soaring above 30 degrees Celsius in the English capital.
“There’s no hard feelings. I feel like it was a fair tackle from him and a fair tackle from me.
“We did not insult each other, we did not hit each other, we were fighting for our teams and from my side there’s absolutely no hard feelings. I’m surprised that we both got a red card for that.”
Tuchel’s ire was instead directed toward the officials as both Tottenham’s goals could have been disallowed.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s strike was allowed to stand despite a potential foul on Kai Havertz in the build-up and Richarlison standing in an offside position when the Dane’s shot was hit.
Before the corner leading to Kane’s equalizer, Spurs defender Sergio Romero also escaped a red card for dragging Marc Cucurella to the ground by his hair.
“It was a clear foul on Kai Havertz. Ok, the situation goes on and on and on, then it is a clear offside,” added Tuchel.
“Since when can you pull hair on the football field? It’s ridiculous.
“That’s the only frustration. I’m the happiest coach on earth because we played a fantastic match.”
Conte batted away several questions about his tete-a-tete with Tuchel, but admitted a gap between the sides remains despite Spurs’ improvement.
Chelsea won all four meetings between the sides last season, three of them after Conte took charge in November.
“In my opinion it is better to talk about the game,” said Conte. “Chelsea showed to be a really good team, but compared to last season we did a bit better.
“The difference is clear. This team won the Champions League two years ago, last year won the Club World Cup, got to the final of the FA Cup and Carabao (League) Cup.
“There is a difference between Chelsea and Tottenham but we are here to reduce this gap. Last season we lost three times, this time we drew so it’s a little step forward.”


Anthony Joshua praises Saudi passion for boxing ahead of biggest fight of his career

Joshua and Usyk will clash for the second time when they face off at the 'Rage on the Red Sea' in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Joshua and Usyk will clash for the second time when they face off at the 'Rage on the Red Sea' in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Updated 14 August 2022

Anthony Joshua praises Saudi passion for boxing ahead of biggest fight of his career

Joshua and Usyk will clash for the second time when they face off at the 'Rage on the Red Sea' in Jeddah. (Supplied)
  • British fighter takes on Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk at “Rage on the Red Sea” showdown on Aug. 20

JEDDAH: With under a week to go to the biggest fight of the year, billed the “Rage on the Red Sea,” Anthony Joshua reflected on his first visit to Saudi Arabia in 2019 and how he is ready to “put on a show” for his second fight in the Kingdom: The rematch against Oleksandr Usyk.

At face value, Joshua’s ambitions are simple.

“Last time here I became two-time champion,” he says, just days out from his rematch. “The sole aim now is to become three-time!”

Scratch the surface a little, though, and there is a far greater depth to the goals of both the fighter and host nation.

The last time Joshua fought here he did so under similar circumstances. He went into 2019’s “Clash of the Dunes” in Diriyah bidding to reclaim the belts he had lost to his opponent just months earlier, and does so again in Jeddah after dropping those same titles to Usyk last year.

Anthony Joshua regained his world heavyweight titles in 2019’s “Clash of the Dunes” in Diriyah.

Joshua went on to outclass Andy Ruiz Jr. from start to finish in Diriyah, and the Briton, understandably, recalls the night with real fondness.

“I have great memories from 2019,” he said. “Everything about the event was spot on. From the purpose-built stadium, the organization and the hospitality, it was all 10 out of 10. It was a phenomenal event for boxing in general and, of course, very special for me as I became two-time champion.”

A seed was planted on Dec. 7, 2019, and boxing in the Kingdom has grown at a rapid pace ever since. There has been a 300 percent increase in participation across men and women in Saudi Arabia, the number of boxing gyms in the country has climbed from seven to 59, and last December saw the Saudi Arabian Boxing Federation introduce the first ever women’s boxing championship.

“Clash of the Dunes” left a legacy for boxing to build upon in Saudi Arabia, something the Joshua is immensely proud of and hopes to further once again when he takes on Usyk at King Abdullah Sports City on Saturday, Aug. 20.

“It’s fantastic that the country has taken the sport to heart,” said Joshua. “I know it has grown by over 300 percent, lots of facilities have opened since 2019 and the women’s championship happened last year. As professional fighters competing on a global scale it is fantastic to see the sport grow and inspire a new generation to it.”

Joshua departed Saudi Arabia a hero in 2019, having brought the pinnacle of the sport to the country for the very first time. The welcome he was given, as well as the support throughout his time there, left a mark on him.

“I have been shown such kindness since I have been here,” he explained. “It is obvious to me that the country has really embraced the sport and that certainly fills me with energy to want to perform in front of the fans.”

The 32-year-old will need all the energy he can muster from the Jeddah crowd as he runs it back against a man widely regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet.

Usyk extended his career unbeaten run to 19 fights by securing a unanimous points victory over Joshua, and the 35-year-old Ukrainian is a technical master in the ring. But, while Joshua insists Usyk deserves the respect his achievements command, he is ready to make the most of a rare opportunity at redemption.

He said: “Things happen in life, but resilience and mental toughness and consistency will always prevail, so we are still on the right road. I am focused on the target and goal and it’s all about performance now. I had to take the defeat like a man and hold myself accountable. I simply have to reverse it and move forward.

“We have to give him credit, I respect him for his craft. I am motivated to get better. The great thing is I have a second chance to beat him. You can put me down, but you can’t keep me down.

“My team and I are focused on the goal, taking all the learnings from the last fight and on Aug. 20 I will entertain the fans who come out to see a huge night of heavyweight boxing.”

The battle that tops the billing at “Rage on the Red Sea” is the obvious big-ticket draw for fight fans both watching in the stadium and at home on pay-per-view, but the remainder of the card will make history, too, and is littered with talented, high-stakes bouts from start to finish.

The impact of this event on the ongoing transformation of Saudi Arabia through sport will continue the momentum from the incredible response to “Clash of the Dunes.”

There is Saudi fighter Ziyad Al-Maayouf to inspire local fight fans, while Ramla Ali and Crystal Garcia Nova will be the first female boxers to ever feature in an official international fight in Saudi Arabia. Then there are light-heavyweight and heavyweight final eliminators between Callum Smith and Mathieu Bauderlique, and Filip Hrgovic versus the undefeated Zhilei Zhang, respectively.

Added to that are names such as former two-weight world champion Badou Jack and his opponent Richard Rivera, as well as Daniel Lapin, Jozef Jurko, Andrew Tabiti and Tyrone Spong.

For Joshua, this means only one thing: This event is not to be missed.

“All focus is on fight night, and we are certain to put on a serious show for them,” he said.

“I can’t wait to see everyone at the arena. It is set to be an unbelievable night of championship-level boxing. For any sports fan this is not to be missed, it has all the ingredients to go down in boxing history.”

 


Young Saudi pool player wins against American professional star

Young Saudi pool player wins against American professional star
Updated 14 August 2022

Young Saudi pool player wins against American professional star

Young Saudi pool player wins against American professional star
  • Commentator: The big story here, all the way from Saudi Arabia, Al-Ghamdi beats Skyler, what a story at the inaugural European Open
  • Al-Ghamdi claimed a gold medal in the nine-ball competition for juniors at the West Asian Billiards and Snooker Championships in Dubai

JEDDAH: Khaled Al-Ghamdi, a Saudi junior billiards team player, scored an important victory on Aug. 10, beating American professional pool player Skyler Woodward in the European Open Championship that concluded on Sunday in Germany.

The European Open Pool Championship 2022 was a nine-ball pool tournament held from Aug. 9-14.

Matchroom Pool, the world’s leading pool promoter, tweeted a video of the match with the message: “Saudi Arabia, you’ve got a special player on your hands! 17-year-old Khalid Alghamdi comes back from 6-2 down against two-time Mosconi Cup MVP Skyler Woodward to win 9-7.”

The commentator in the footage said: “Remember, he started to play pool on a computer, and his father Omar said ‘why not try the real thing?’”

Al-Ghamdi took to the game “like a duck to the water”, and after scoring the nine balls smoothly, the commentator said: “The big story here, all the way from Saudi Arabia, Al-Ghamdi beats Skyler, what a story at the inaugural European Open.”

Al-Ghamdi’s legendary win was made all the more exciting given he had trailed 6-2 at one stage.

His achievement has opened the door to the prospect of playing against other international stars in future.

Fahad Nazer, spokesperson for the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC tweeted the video of Al-Ghamdi’s brilliant performance and said: “#Saudi Vision 2030 has established a sports sector in the Kingdom in record time, generating thousands of jobs & improving the quality of life for everyone living in the Kingdom in the process.

“It has also led to the development of world-class athletes in several sports.”

The tweet went viral as Arab billiards fans were left stunned by, and proud of, Al-Ghamdi’s professional performance.

Khalid Abalhassan @twiffessor said: “A big win Khalid. Keep going.”

@Muteb_albalawi said: “Sensational performance congrats Khalid.”

Al-Ghamdi started playing when he was just 10 years old, and despite his young age, he trained hard.

When he was 14, he was the first and youngest Arab — and Saudi — to win first place at the 2019 USA Pool League National in the 8-ball Singles Junior Division, in Las Vegas.

In November 2021, Al-Ghamdi claimed a gold medal in the nine-ball competition for juniors at the West Asian Billiards and Snooker Championships in Dubai.


Stoffel Vandoorne and Mercedes-EQ seal Formula E world titles 

Stoffel Vandoorne and Mercedes-EQ seal Formula E world titles 
Updated 14 August 2022

Stoffel Vandoorne and Mercedes-EQ seal Formula E world titles 

Stoffel Vandoorne and Mercedes-EQ seal Formula E world titles 
  • Vandoorne finishes second in Round 16, enough to secure title by 33 points ahead of Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans
  • Edoardo Mortara wins in Round 16 of the ABB FIA Formula E Season 8 in Seoul to take third overall

SEOUL: Stoffel Vandoorne raced ahead to a second-place finish in the Hana Bank Seoul E-Prix to seal the 2021-22 ABB FIA Formula E Drivers’ World Championship and secure the Teams’ World Championship for his team Mercedes-EQ.

On a day that saw Edoardo Mortara of ROKiT Venturi Racing win the 100th E-Prix race in the world’s first electric motorsport World Championship, Vandoorne’s Season 8 title also marked the end of the Gen2 era in Formula E — the second iteration of electric racecar in the series.

The Gen3 car will debut next season as the fastest, lightest, most powerful and most efficient electric racecar ever built.

Formula E’s first venture into the South Korean capital of Seoul saw Vandoorne navigate a Lap 1 melee and keep it clean throughout the rest of the race to bring the Silver Arrow 02 home in second place.

Only Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) had any chance of catching Vandoorne going into the race. But Vandoorne’s eighth podium of the season — more than any other driver — proved to be enough to see him take a maiden Drivers’ crown and hand Mercedes-EQ back-to-back Drivers’ and Teams’ titles on the German marque’s Formula E swansong.

“World champions, wow,” said Vandoorne. “It’s just the best feeling ever. Just look at the season we’ve had, the consistency and the car has been amazing, and the team has done an incredible job. I think every single one of us deserves it. What we’ve accomplished is something special.

“Mitch has pushed me all the way along, the same with Edo, they were there all the time. It was really about the consistency in the end. They all have more wins than me, but I have the most podiums, I think. It was difficult to focus because the pace at the end was so high. I knew Jake had a five-second penalty, so I had to stay close enough to him to secure P2,” the Mercedes driver added.

“It was an awesome day, a lot of concentration. I am drained after this year. It has been a lot of effort. The effort I have put in and the team has put in — it is incredible.”

Mortara controlled the race once he hit the front via a stunning dummy that saw him complete a successful switchback on Julius Bär polesitter António Félix da Costa (DS TECHEETAH) on Lap 3. From there, he managed the gap and his usable energy perfectly to sign off his and Venturi’s campaign in style — the Monegasque outfit taking second in the Teams’ running ahead of DS TECHEETAH, and Mortara third in the Drivers’ Championship.

Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti) drove to a strong third position, despite a tough-to-take five-second penalty following a coming-together with da Costa.

Season 8 was the biggest to date in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship with 16 races on street circuits in 10 world cities: Diriyah, Mexico City, Rome, Monaco, Berlin, Jakarta, Marrakesh, New York City, London and Seoul. Both Jakarta and Seoul were debuts for Formula E.

The dawn of the Gen3 era in Season 9 will see Formula E go bigger and further than ever before with a provisional calendar featuring 18 races in 13 cities. The season begins on Jan. 14 in Mexico City and continues in Diriyah, Hyderabad, São Paulo, Berlin, Monaco, Seoul, Jakarta, Rome and London. Three E-Prix host cities will be announced later this year, while Hyderabad and São Paulo are both debut venues.

McLaren Racing will be entering Formula E for the first time, taking over the triumphant Mercedes-EQ team, while Maserati will be making a return to motorsports for the first time in decades. ABT will also be returning to the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.


Weightlifter Al-Biladi claims three bronze medals for KSA at Islamic Solidarity Games

Weightlifter Al-Biladi claims three bronze medals for KSA at Islamic Solidarity Games
Updated 14 August 2022

Weightlifter Al-Biladi claims three bronze medals for KSA at Islamic Solidarity Games

Weightlifter Al-Biladi claims three bronze medals for KSA at Islamic Solidarity Games
  • Saudi Arabia failed to reach the final of the men’s handball competition after a 26-25 loss to Turkey

KONYA: Saudi weightlifter Abdulrahman Al-Biladi on Saturday claimed three medals at the fifth edition of the Islamic Solidarity Games, currently taking place in Turkey.

Al-Baladi’s three bronze medals came in the 73 kg division, having managed third-place finishes in the Snatch category with a lift of 130 kg, in the Clean and Jerk with a lift of 166 kg, and in the overall final standings with a total of 296 points.

With those results, the Kingdom’s medal tally at the tournament stood at 18 (one gold, 10 silvers and seven bronzes).

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia failed to reach the final of the men’s handball competition after losing 26-25 to hosts Turkey on Saturday night.

In an extremely tight semifinal, the Turkish team scored the winning goal with only five seconds left on the clock.

The Saudi team will now face Iran in the bronze medal match on Sunday evening.