Leading golfers to compete in Rooftop Charity Challenge ahead of Dubai Desert Classic

Leading golfers to compete in Rooftop Charity Challenge ahead of Dubai Desert Classic
Rafa Cabrera will take part in the rooftop charity challenge ahead of the 2022 Dubai Desert Classic. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 18 January 2022

Leading golfers to compete in Rooftop Charity Challenge ahead of Dubai Desert Classic

Leading golfers to compete in Rooftop Charity Challenge ahead of Dubai Desert Classic
  • Four Major champions will be part of the eight golfers participating in the event at the JA The Resort Dubai on Jan. 24

DUBAI: On the eve of next week’s Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic, four major champions will be among the eight golfing greats battling it out for a good cause in a charity match-play tournament as the JA Lake View Hotel at JA The Resort Dubai welcomes back its Rooftop Charity Challenge on Monday Jan. 24.

Rafa Cabrera Bello will lead the star-studded field, which also includes the challenge’s defending champion Adri Arnaus, along with Charl Schwartzel and Danny Willett, masters champions from 2011 and 2016 respectively, Open winners Henrik Stenson (2016) and Shane Lowry (2019), Swedish star Sebastian Soderberg and US amateur hotshot Sam Bennett.

The challenge takes place from 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 24 in the BIBÉ rooftop lounge on the JA Lakeview Hotel, with the players hitting 90-yard shots from an elevated tee onto the stunning second hole of the nine-hole golf course 30 yards below. The winning player will secure up to $6,800 for the Al-Jalila Foundation.

The JA Lake View Hotel’s Rooftop Charity Challenge will see players and guests overlook a nine-hole, par 35 championship standard golf course with driving range, putting and pitching greens and Leadbetter Golf Academy Dubai of JA The Resort.

Director of golf at JA The Resort, Stuart McMurdo, said: “We are privileged to host this event once again, after its inception in 2020. This year features some of the world’s best players who come from all corners of the globe. It’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase our wonderful golf course and resort facilities.”

The event is being held in the build-up to the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic, the region’s longest-running golf event, which has been elevated to a Rolex Series event for 2022.

For the first time in the event’s 33-year history, the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic is free to attend for all spectators. This year’s field includes four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, recently crowned DP World Tour Number One Collin Morikawa, defending champion Paul Casey, world No. 7 Viktor Hovland, 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia, five-time DP World Tour winner Tommy Fleetwood and more.


Wael Al-Qadi and Bristol Rovers celebrate a football miracle for the ages

Wael Al-Qadi and Bristol Rovers celebrate a football miracle for the ages
Updated 5 sec ago

Wael Al-Qadi and Bristol Rovers celebrate a football miracle for the ages

Wael Al-Qadi and Bristol Rovers celebrate a football miracle for the ages
  • It’s been a good season for Arab owners of English football clubs, but few stories can compare to Bristol Rovers’ automatic promotion to League One
  • May 7, 2022, and Bristol Rovers are playing Scunthorpe United at the Memorial Stadium with an automatic place in League One on the line

DUBAI: Time was running out and a fifth, sixth, and seventh goal were needed.
They would, astonishingly, arrive, because that’s what football miracles are made of.
But we’re jumping ahead.
This has been a good season for Arab owners of English football clubs.
Manchester City are on the brink of retaining their Premier League title. Newcastle United have pulled off a record-breaking escape from relegation and are looking toward a bright future. And Wigan have gained promotion to the Championship.
But for sheer drama, none of these stories can quite compete with that of Bristol Rovers, owned by Jordanian businessman Wael Al-Qadi.
At one point, the club was second to bottom in League Two, 91st out of 92 clubs in the pyramid of English football. To say promotion to League One was against the odds would barely scratch the surface of the events of the season.
“It was one of the most crazy, demanding seasons, really tiring because we went through it all, the lowest of the low to the highest of the high,” said Al-Qadi. “In a normal season, I’m here 50 percent of the time, I attend 50 percent of the games, but this season, because of what was going on, the upheaval in the club, going from rock bottom, I was here a lot more. And as a result, negativity and stress and lots of problems arose from within the club, and around the club there was pressure on me to get rid of the manager (Joey Barton). It was basically a revolt from within the club to make change.”
Some difficult decisions had to be taken, ones that have been vindicated spectacularly.
“I stuck with him and as a result, I cleaned house in the club, everybody was just pushed out and I appointed the new CEO (Tom Gorringe) who was with us as a commercial director, he became the youngest CEO in English football. Sweeping changes all across the club in all the departments brought in new, young, energized people.
“The combination of Tom, Joe, and me we rode out the storm, and results started to happen,” he added. “It went from a total negative dark place to be, to a ride of success which was fantastic. The quality of football being played, the goals, fairytale gains, being 3-1 down with 18 minutes left to win 4-3 in the 95th minute, stuff like that. It’s just incredible.
“And then the final game of the season, ‘the miracle’ I call it, a footballing miracle, to witness that was just unbelievable. And then what happened after the celebrations. The whole city, for not only that night, for days and weeks, they’re still talking about and it will go down in the folklore of the club as one of the greatest achievements ever.”
May 7, 2022, and Bristol Rovers are playing Scunthorpe United at the Memorial Stadium with an automatic place in League One on the line. But they trail Northampton Town, second in League Two and playing at Barrow, on goal difference.
“Going into the game, it (automatic promotion) was unlikely, we had to first of all win by five goals just to catch up and hope at the same time, if we didn’t do that hope we win and Northampton draws or loses,” said Al-Qadi.
“So I asked the manager, ‘Are we going for it? And he was like, hell yes. So I knew we were gonna attack and go for goal difference because we’re not relying on the other teams to do us favors. So the lineup was totally attacking, we put in wing-backs who are wingers actually, we changed the line up to basically nine attackers and just two defenders and I knew we were gonna go for it.”
What happened next defied all footballing logic.
“So we started off well but then the news filtered in, 1-0 Northampton, then 2-0 Northampton, then 3-0 Northampton, so you’re kind of deflated, and you start thinking, okay, at least we’re in the playoffs, it’s not the end of the world. And then we scored a goal, and we scored another goal. And Barrow scored the goal. That’s three goals wiped off the deficit of eight.
“So at halftime, there were five to go, and honestly I thought that it was doable because I know we were going to go all-out attack. I know that we’re one of the fittest teams in the league, I know that a lot of our goals are scored in the last 15 minutes, so it was just me expecting the next goal to go in
“And then after that went in, I was like, okay, when’s the fourth going in? And then, okay, when’s the fifth going in? Then the sixth goal (on 79 minutes). And then when the seventh goal went in (85), I lost it completely. It was, it was just incredible.”
Having pulled off the impossible, there was a brief, but terrifying, concern that it could all be in vain when the fans invaded the pitch before its conclusion, with the referee taking the players into the dressing rooms for 15 minutes.
“We were under the whim of this referee,” Al-Qadi said. “His decision could cost us, basically, promotion. So I went down on the pitch and addressed the crowd, ‘Please do not come onto the pitch’, because this referee could abandon the game again.”
After Barton addressed the crowd as well, the match was completed and the celebrations could start all over again.
Al-Qadi’s faith in his players to pull off the result was not based on blind optimism either. Increasingly throughout the season, the team had shown a capacity to score very late, decisive goals, a legacy of their improved fitness.
“When Joe came in, he realized that we were way behind in standards in fitness and sports science and nutrition,” he said. “So he did a complete overhaul in that department and he brought in people who he knows and trusts and who he’d worked with before. For example, we got in Tom Short, ‘Shorty,’ from Premier League Burnley. He had treated Joe when he was a player at Burnley and got him fit again, so he knows his capabilities.”
Al-Qadi calls Short and all the backroom staff “unsung heroes” for their part in the promotion.
“Joe built a super fit team that lasts beyond the 90 minutes, you could see it throughout the season, where other teams drop off around the 75th minute, and we keep on going. We’re fitter, we’re stronger, and the results speak for themselves.”
A week before the promotion was secured, Bristol Rovers had pulled off another miracle away at Rochdale. Losing 3-2 into stoppage time, Barton’s team somehow managed to turn almost defeat into a 4-3 win, a match Al-Qadi watched with the traveling support.
“It’s just crazy, I wanted to get on the pitch,” said Al-Qadi. “What a day. We had to win to keep up with everyone at one stage, we win, we are losing, we were out of the playoffs. Imagine we were losing 3-1 with 18 minutes left, we were out of the playoffs. Even going to the 90th minute, we’re losing 3-2, two out, and then all of a sudden we’re in and then the next week, we get promoted. It’s crazy.”
Rovers took more than 2,000 fans to Rochdale and Al-Qadi’s presence in the stands was proof that six years after taking over the club he is as much a fan as he is an owner.
“You have to enjoy it,” he said. “You have to because there’s so much stress and anger and you know, falling out with people and people don’t see that, it’s not just about watching a football game and enjoying it. So I guess it’s like a balance with all the joy you get. It balances out all the other negative stuff that you have to deal with, and we have dealt with, and how the season was crazy.”
With no stress of a playoff to worry about, the Bristol Rovers fans have been wallowing in the joy of “the miracle” and the chairman is enjoying the ride even as, behind the scenes, preparations for League One are already taking place.
“You should see the fans. I mean, my God stories of lost ones, dear ones, that they bring their pictures of the dear ones to the game. And after promotion, they just put that picture up and take a memory picture for them. It’s done for them. It’s so many stories, you know, it’s just unbelievable. I met a guy who flew in from Australia just for this game. And I was so relieved for him, because imagine if we didn’t make it.
“And another guy from Canada,” he added. “I was picking up my son at the airport in the morning. He came in from the US, and I was stopped by the flight steward who recognized me, (he) came up and said, ‘I just flew in from Ireland. I’m gonna go get changed and go to the game.’ It’s just beautiful stories.
“They’re over the moon, they’re just really happy,” Al-Qadi said. “They’re loving the football we’re playing at the moment. They say it’s the best football they’ve ever seen. It’s really satisfactory to hear that.”


AP Source: Mbappé to stay at PSG after rejecting Real Madrid

AP Source: Mbappé to stay at PSG after rejecting Real Madrid
Updated 21 May 2022

AP Source: Mbappé to stay at PSG after rejecting Real Madrid

AP Source: Mbappé to stay at PSG after rejecting Real Madrid
  • The France forward has agreed to a three-year contract extension that is close to being signed
  • Instead of joining 13-time European champion Madrid, which have chased him for so long, Mbappé is staying to try to deliver PSG their first Champions League title

PARIS: Kylian Mbappé is set to stay at Paris Saint-Germain after again turning down the chance to join Real Madrid.
The France forward has agreed to a three-year contract extension that is close to being signed, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the contract talks publicly.
The 23-year-old Mbappé’s contract is expiring in June and he would have been available on a free transfer.
Instead of joining 13-time European champion Madrid, which have chased him for so long, Mbappé is staying to try to deliver PSG their first Champions League title.
Madrid managed to beat PSG in the Champions League this season but not in the transfer market once again.
The Spanish giant’s failure to sign Mbappé is a significant blow for its president, Florentino Pérez, who has been trying to get the transfer over the line for a year.
PSG turned down Madrid’s official bid of 180 million euros ($190 million) — the same amount they signed Mbappé for from Monaco in 2017 — and even another reported amount of 200 million euros ($211 million) was not enough to sell their star despite him having only a year remaining on his contract. Mbappé said he wanted to leave at the end of last season, but only on the right terms for PSG.
The non-transfer reflects the shifting power dynamics in European football. Pérez was one of the architects of the European Super League breakaway from the UEFA Champions League that imploded within 48 hours in April 2021.
PSG opted out of joining the 12 Super League founders, allowing their president, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, to gain one of the most powerful roles in the game as head of the European Club Association.
Pérez is still pursuing his Super League dream in conflict with UEFA.
Signing Mbappé would have provided a statement signing for Pérez from a team that only emerged as a rival in the last decade through its Qatari funding.
But the energy expended in pursuing the transfer, and optimism from Madrid, which are chasing their record-extending 14th European Cup win when they meets Liverpool in next Saturday’s Champions League final in Paris, has come to nothing.
The tension between the clubs was evident when PSG were knocked out of the Champions League in the Round of 16 by Madrid in March — despite leading 2-0 overall with two Mbappé goals — and Al-Khelaifi remains under UEFA investigation for allegedly confronting match officials after the loss.
Madrid are being thwarted yet again, having tried to sign Mbappé after he left Monaco in 2017 — and even before that.
He visited Madrid’s facilities aged 14, and was greeted by France great Zinedine Zidane, but he instead chose to launch his stellar career at Monaco.
Mbappé’s first professional goal came at the age of 17 years, 62 days, which beat the Monaco club record held by Thierry Henry.
Henry is France’s record scorer with 51 goals. Mbappé is already on 26 and may well overtake him as a PSG player.
He is PSG’s second-highest scorer with 168 goals and could surpass Edinson Cavani’s record of 200 next season.
However, Mbappe misses out on the chance to play alongside France teammate Karim Benzema for Madrid in what would have been a devastating partnership and the envy of Europe.
Over the past year they have been prolific together for Les Bleus and both netted when France won the Nations League final.
But when France defend their World Cup title later this year in Qatar, they’ll only be teammates on the national team.


Angel Di Maria leaving PSG after seven seasons

Angel Di Maria leaving PSG after seven seasons
Updated 21 May 2022

Angel Di Maria leaving PSG after seven seasons

Angel Di Maria leaving PSG after seven seasons
  • The Argentina winger's contract is expiring and the French champions announced his departure late Friday night
  • Al-Khelaifi urged fans to “head down to the Parc des Princes to give him the tribute he deserves” when PSG host Metz later Saturday

PARIS: Angel Di Maria is leaving Paris Saint-Germain after seven seasons with the club.
The Argentina winger’s contract is expiring and the French champions announced his departure late Friday night.
“Angel Di Maria has left a permanent mark on the history of the club,” PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said. “He will remain in the memories of the supporters as someone with an irreproachable attitude, who has defended our colors with faultless commitment.”
Al-Khelaifi urged fans to “head down to the Parc des Princes to give him the tribute he deserves” when PSG host Metz later Saturday.
In his 295th and final game for PSG, Di Maria will look to add to his 91 goals and club-record 111 assists.
The season finale kicks off with no confirmation yet on Kylian Mbappe’s future. The striker’s contract is expiring and he’s being pursued by Real Madrid.
The 34-year-old Di Maria scored 15 goals and had 25 assists across all competitions in his first season after joining in 2015, including the record for most league assists with 18.
Di Maria had some brilliant spells with PSG, where his combination of slick passing, speed down the wing, quick feet and excellent finishing carved defenses open.
However, at other times, a lack of work rate when tracking back was criticized in some of the biggest games, especially when PSG lost tight contests in the Champions League.
He won five league titles and French Cups as well as four League Cup trophies.


Ali Al-Issa wins bronze as Saudi swimmers finish GCC Games with five medals

Ali Al-Issa wins bronze as Saudi swimmers finish GCC Games with five medals
Updated 21 May 2022

Ali Al-Issa wins bronze as Saudi swimmers finish GCC Games with five medals

Ali Al-Issa wins bronze as Saudi swimmers finish GCC Games with five medals
  • The men’s swimming team claimed one gold, two silver and two bronze in total over the week in Kuwait

The Saudi swimming team concluded their participation in the GCC Games in Kuwait with a tally of one gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

On Friday night Ali Al-Issa took the bronze medal in the 200m backstroke with a time of 2.11.82, having already won the gold in the 100m backstroke.

Elsewhere the Saudi men’s basketball team defeated Qatar 53-44 in a match they dominated and will take on Bahrain on Sunday.

In the opening of the volleyball competition, the Saudi men’s team lost their first match against Bahrain by three sets to one set (25-20, 13-25, 23-25, 13-25).

The Saudi men’s futsal team lost their third match of the tournament 5-2 against the UAE, having won their first match and lost their second. The Saudi goals came from Moaz Asiri and Fahad Al-Rudaini.

In the men’s cycling Saudi finished fourth in the team time trial with a time of 53.00.31 over a distance of 40km, which took place on Sheikh Jaber Al-Sabah Bridge.


Eddie Howe: No Newcastle United signings lined up yet

Eddie Howe: No Newcastle United signings lined up yet
Updated 21 May 2022

Eddie Howe: No Newcastle United signings lined up yet

Eddie Howe: No Newcastle United signings lined up yet
  • Recent rumors have linked the Magpies with Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson, Lucas Paqueta of Lyon

NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe has revealed that Newcastle United are “not close” to signing anyone, despite reports across the UK to the contrary.

It is expected to be a busy summer at St. James’ Park, nonetheless.

The Magpies were reported to be close to adding Manchester United and England goalkeeper Dean Henderson to their squad, however Howe has poured cold water on it.

A deal for Lucas Paqueta of Lyon has also been rumored, but Arab News understands that is not a transfer Newcastle are pursuing at present.

On Henderson, and the summer ahead, Howe said: “We’re not close to signing anybody at this moment in time. We’re not at any advanced stage with that.

“It’s very difficult for me to comment on individual players because I’d be giving you an answer on every target. But no, that’s far from the truth.”

Another player who, at this stage, is not being actively pursued is Burnley’s James Tarkowski. The defender, who is out of contract at Turf Moor this summer, does remain on a long list of central defensive targets, though.

Outgoings are going to be as important as incomings for Newcastle if they do not want to encounter Financial Fair Play rules similar to those currently being worked through by Premier League rivals Everton.

And Arab News understands one player who is close to a move is Ciaran Clark.

The Republic of Ireland international was omitted from the club’s 25-man Premier League squad in January, despite the 32-year-old making 14 appearances in the first half of the campaign.

And with Clark likely to be cut out of the first-team picture again, former United boss Steve Bruce is understood to be keen on the player.

Bruce is currently manager of English Championship side West Bromwich Albion. Middlesbrough are also thought to be keen.

“I won’t speak about individual players at this time. I’ll do that at a later date. But at this time, I think it’s difficult for me to comment," said Howe.

“I’ll be speaking with players in the next few days linking it around the game. Obviously, I won’t be speaking to any of the players involved in the match before the game —I’ll be speaking to them afterwards — but players who are potentially injured and not involved in the game.”

With decisions still to be made, confusion and uncertainty reign supreme for many in the Newcastle ranks.

This is most prevalent when assessing Matt Targett’s United situation.

Targett has been one of United’s best performers in the second half of the season but is only on loan from Aston Villa.

Villains’ boss Steven Gerrard this week stated he would be happy to take the player back to the Midlands if Newcastle do not arrive with a bid to make things permanent.

When asked about the player, Howe said: “I’ll be sitting down with all my players at the end of the season and discussing futures; I’ll be doing the same with Matt. I think it’s only right we get the season out the way first and concentrate on the games and the football before discussing things.

“He’s been outstanding. The biggest compliment I can pay any loan player, I view him as an integral member of the squad. His attitude, conduct, performance and consistency have been of the highest level.

“We really, really like him. I think he’s jelled really well with the squad, and he’s very popular within the building here. I can’t speak highly enough of him.”