Russia’s sporting freeze grows over Ukraine invasion

Russia’s sporting freeze grows over Ukraine invasion
The International Olympic Committee has made a sweeping move to isolate and condemn Russia over the country’s invasion of Ukraine. (AP)
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Updated 01 March 2022

Russia’s sporting freeze grows over Ukraine invasion

Russia’s sporting freeze grows over Ukraine invasion
  • Russian and Belarusian tennis players will be allowed to continue competing on the WTA and ATP Tours and in Grand Slam tournaments
  • Their track and field athletes, as well as those from Belarus, joined them from being barred from this year's world championships

PARIS: Russia continued to pay a heavy sporting price for its invasion of Ukraine on Tuesday, frozen out by a snowballing list of sports with perhaps the most painful blows coming from ice skating and athletics.
However, Russian and Belarusian tennis players will be allowed to continue competing on the WTA and ATP Tours and in Grand Slam tournaments, despite its teams being suspended from the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup.
Russia, traditionally a powerhouse in figure skating — they won six medals at the Beijing Olympics including two gold — had their skaters barred from all competitions.
This rules them out of March’s world championships to be hosted in Montpellier, France.
Their track and field athletes, as well as those from Belarus, joined them from being barred from this year’s world championships — indoors and outdoors — later on Tuesday.
It was a decision not taken lightly, with World Athletics president Sebastian Coe describing it as “going against the grain” to punish athletes “but sport has to step up.”
Belarusian athletes are being punished as the country is being condemned internationally for being used as a launchpad by Russian forces to attack neighboring Ukraine.
Both are significant blows for Russia, which under President Vladimir Putin had used sport as a powerful force for its image both globally and internally.
Under his presidency it has hosted the Winter Olympics in 2014 in Sochi — although that was overshadowed by the state-sponsored doping scandal — and the 2018 men’s football World Cup.
On Monday, the governing bodies who oversee those sporting showpieces hit Russia hard.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) urged sports federations and organizers to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from international events.
Hours later, FIFA kicked Russia out of the 2022 World Cup as football’s global governing body and UEFA joined forces to expel Russian national teams and clubs from all international competitions.
Russian football suffered another body blow on Tuesday when German sports equipment giants Adidas suspended their partnership with the Russian Football Federation.
Adidas generated 2.9 percent of its turnover in 2020 in the “Russia, Ukraine and CIS” regions.
Russian tennis players, including newly-crowned men’s world number one Daniil Medvedev and Belarus’ women’s world number three Aryna Sabalenka, will be allowed to keep competing in major individual events.
But they will not be able to play under their countries’ respective flags.
“A deep sense of distress, shock and sadness has been felt across the entire tennis community following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the past week,” said a joint statement from the ATP, WTA, ITF and the organizers of tennis’ four Grand Slam tournaments.
Several high-profile tennis players from Russia have spoken out against the conflict in Ukraine.
Russia’s top-ranked women’s player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova joined men’s tennis number six Andrey Rublev in criticizing the war.
“Stop the war, stop the violence,” she tweeted on Tuesday.
“Personal ambitions or political motives cannot justify violence. This takes away the future not only from us, but also from our children.”
Russia are the Davis Cup holders but will not be able to defend their title later this year after being banned by the ITF from its team competitions.
Professional cycling teams and national teams from Russia and Belarus have also been barred by the UCI.
But individual riders racing for teams based in other countries will be able to keep competing.
Russia also lost the right to host the men’s Volleyball World Championships in August and September.
This follows UEFA stripping Saint Petersburg of hosting the Champions League final — European football’s premier club competition — and Formula One canceling the Russian Grand Prix last Friday.
Badminton World Federation (BWF) followed their fellow federations with a blanket ban on the athletes, declaring it had “strengthened its measures.” Only hours before it initially just canceled BWF-sanctioned tournaments in Russia and Belarus.
Swimming was another rare bird to offer some sanctuary for Russian and Belarusian swimmers, as governing body FINA stopped short of banning them.
“Russian or Belarusian nationals, be it as individuals or teams, should be accepted only as neutral athletes or neutral teams,” FINA said in a statement.
The Ukrainians will, in spite of the challenges they faced in traveling, be present for the opening ceremony of the Winter Paralympics in Beijing.
“The Ukrainian national team will fly in full for the Paralympic Games,” the Ukrainian federation said in a tweet.
Amid all the gloom for Ukrainian sporting stars, there was a bit of bright news for Ukraine international midfielder Yevhen Shakhov — who plays in Greece — whose wife gave birth to a baby girl in Kyiv.
“The real heroes of our time. Heroes are not those who fight, but those who give birth to life. I love you very much,” the 31-year-old AEK Athens star posted on Instagram.
Elsewhere, Manchester City’s Ukrainian left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko was given the captain’s armband for his team’s FA Cup tie at Peterborough.


Neymar to miss Brazil’s last group game at World Cup

Neymar to miss Brazil’s last group game at World Cup
Updated 30 November 2022

Neymar to miss Brazil’s last group game at World Cup

Neymar to miss Brazil’s last group game at World Cup
  • Lasmar did not give a timetable on Neymar’s return, and did not say if the player would return at all

DOHA: Neymar will miss Brazil’s last group game at the World Cup because of his right ankle injury, the team doctor said Tuesday.

Rodrigo Lasmar said the Brazil forward will not recover in time to face Cameroon in the Group G game on Friday.

Neymar missed Monday’s game against Switzerland, when Brazil won 1-0 to secure ther spot in the round of 16. A draw against Cameroon will be enough to give Brazil first place in the group.

Lasmar did not give a timetable on Neymar’s return, and did not say if the player would return at all. Brazil’s coaching staff, though, reiterated Tuesday that the Paris Saint-Germain forward was expected to play again at the tournament in Qatar.

Neymar, who damaged ligaments in his ankle during Brazil’s opening match against Serbia, was the only player who didn’t go to Stadium 974 to watch the match against Switzerland. He stayed at the team hotel for physiotherapy treatment.

Lasmar said Neymar also had a fever on Monday, which “was under control” and would not affect his ankle treatment.

Lasmar said right back Danilo, who also is nursing an ankle injury, and left back Alex Sandro, who had to leave Monday’s match with a muscle injury, also won’t play against Cameroon.

Danilo got injured in the team’s opener last week and also missed the game against Switzerland. Alex Sandro got hurt in the final minutes of Brazil’s win against the Swiss and was replaced by Alex Telles. Tests on Tuesday showed that he as a muscle injury in his left hip. Lasmar also did not provide the expected recovery time for Danilo and Alex Sandro.

Tite replaced Neymar with Fred and Danilo with Éder Militão in Monday’s starting lineup. 

The coach was yet to announce who would play on Friday, but was expected to rotate players considering a draw against Cameroon would be enough to secure first place. If Brazil finishes first, the last-16 match would take place only three days later. Brazil’s opponents would come from Group H, which includes Portugal, Uruguay, South Korea and Ghana.

Neymar, trying to win his first major title with Brazil, is two goals shy of Pelé’s all-time record of 77 with the national team.

His right ankle also kept him from playing in the 2019 Copa América in Brazil. Five years earlier, he was taken out of the World Cup in Brazil after hurting his back in the quarterfinals against Colombia.

On Tuesday, Brazil complained about the field conditions at Stadium 974, where they could be back for the round of 16 if they finishes first in its group. The team said it would ask FIFA to act and make sure the grass conditions improved at the venue.


Saudi Arabia has not put in a formal bid to host the Fifa World Cup

Saudi Arabia has not put in a formal bid to host the Fifa World Cup
Updated 30 November 2022

Saudi Arabia has not put in a formal bid to host the Fifa World Cup

Saudi Arabia has not put in a formal bid to host the Fifa World Cup

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has not submitted an official bid to host the FIFA World Cup, the tourism ministry said on Wednesday.

“Saudi Arabia is always considering to host a number of large sporting events, as part of promoting sport and tourism in the Kingdom in line with Saudi Vision 2030,” the ministry tweeted.

 

 

The Kingdom has hosted a number of major sporting events in Saudi Arabia including Formula 1, football and heavyweight boxing title fights.

Saudi Arabia was chosen in October to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at Trojena, a year-round winter sports complex being built in the northwest of the Kingdom as part of the futuristic NEOM megacity. 

Trojena, which is due to be completed in 2026, is in an area of NEOM where winter temperatures drop below zero and year-round temperatures are generally 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the region.

Saudi Vision aims to reform the Kingdom on a number of fronts including in tourism, culture and innovative technologies with a view to reorient the country’s economy away from a dependence on oil exports.


Bale makes early exit for Wales against England at World Cup

Bale makes early exit for Wales against England at World Cup
Updated 30 November 2022

Bale makes early exit for Wales against England at World Cup

Bale makes early exit for Wales against England at World Cup
  • Bale had been largely ineffective in the opening half, with only seven touches as England dominated possession

AL RAYYAN, Qatar: If it was Gareth Bale’s final game for Wales, it ended rather unceremoniously.
The Wales captain was substituted at halftime of the team’s match against England at the World Cup on Tuesday because of an injury.
While it was unclear when Bale was hurt, it appeared he was struggling late in the first half of the team’s final Group B match. He was replaced by Brennan Johnson.
Wales crumbled once Bale went off. England scored about five minutes into the second half and added another goal a minute later, finishing with a 3-0 victory.
Wales went into the match at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium needing a victory for a chance to advance to the knockout round in the team’s first World Cup appearance since 1958. Instead, the Welsh are headed home.
Bale had been largely ineffective in the opening half, with only seven touches as England dominated possession.
The 33-year-old Bale, who made his senior debut with Wales in 2006, leads the team in all-time appearances with 111 and in goals with 41.
The forward came to Qatar dogged by questions about whether his time with the national team was coming to an end. Asked a day before the match, Bale curtly replied “Nope.”
Following the World Cup, the next match for Wales is a European Championship qualifier against Croatia in March.
Bale’s World Cup had started with promise. In a 1-1 draw with the United States to open the tournament, Bale pulled Wales even with a late penalty. A 2-0 loss to Iran put Wales in danger of elimination.
But time seems to be catching up with Bale, who won five Champions League trophies over nearly a decade at Real Madrid. He now plays for Los Angeles FC.
Bale helped Wales reach the semifinals at the 2016 European Championship before the team lost to eventual champion Portugal. Wales qualified for last year’s pandemic-delayed Euro 2020, where it lost to Denmark in the round of 16.
After nine years with Real Madrid, Bale came to the United States this past season to play for LAFC in Major League Soccer, signing a deal worth just under $2.4 million.
He was limited to only two starts because of injuries but helped LAFC win the MLS Cup when he scored the game-tying goal deep into stoppage time of extra time against the Philadelphia Union. LAFC prevailed in a penalty shootout for its first championship.
It was Bale’s third goal with LAFC and his first since Aug. 6 against Real Salt Lake. At 128 minutes, it was also the latest goal scored in MLS’ 27 seasons.


England advance after beating Wales 3-0 at World Cup

England advance after beating Wales 3-0 at World Cup
Updated 30 November 2022

England advance after beating Wales 3-0 at World Cup

England advance after beating Wales 3-0 at World Cup
  • England will next face Senegal in the round of 16
  • Wales finished in last place in the group and has been eliminated

AL RAYYAN, Qatar: Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden both scored Tuesday to put England into the last 16 of the World Cup with a 3-0 victory over Wales.
England coach Gareth Southgate opted to add both players in the starting lineup for the team’s final Group B match and they responded with all three goals — two from Rashford and the other from Foden.
England will next face Senegal in the round of 16. Wales finished in last place in the group and has been eliminated.
Southgate had faced calls to freshen up his team after the 0-0 draw with the United States. He brought in Rashford and Foden into a new look attack and it worked.
England had the game wrapped up just after halftime with Rashford scoring from a free kick in the 50th and Foden adding another in the 51st. Rashford got his second after a weaving run in the box in the 68th.
Wales captain Gareth Bale was forced off at halftime with an injury.


Pulisic sinks Iran as US advance in World Cup duel

Pulisic sinks Iran as US advance in World Cup duel
Updated 30 November 2022

Pulisic sinks Iran as US advance in World Cup duel

Pulisic sinks Iran as US advance in World Cup duel
  • Christian Pulisic swooped to score the decisive goal in the 38th minute
  • The Americans will face Group A winners the Netherlands in the knockout phase

DOHA: Christian Pulisic fired the United States into the last 16 of the World Cup on Tuesday as the Americans downed Iran 1-0 in their politically charged grudge match.
Chelsea star Pulisic bundled home the do-or-die Group B game’s only goal on 38 minutes to set up a second round clash with Group A winners the Netherlands on Saturday.
The victory was no less than US coach Gregg Berhalter’s youthful side deserved in what was only the third international football clash between the bitter ideological rivals.
The build-up to a pulsating showdown had been marked by steadily escalating tension, with Iran’s Football Federation on Sunday demanding FIFA sanction US Soccer for posting a modified version of their country’s flag on social media.
But despite an electrifying atmosphere at Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium, Tuesday’s game played out without controversy as the US avenged their 1998 World Cup defeat to Iran to send the Asian qualifiers crashing out of the tournament.
Iran’s fans had roared their team onto the field at the start of the game amid a deafening cacophony of air-horns and cheers from the crowd of 42,127.
But despite the intimidating reception it was the Americans who looked more comfortable, quickly establishing their dominance.
US captain Tyler Adams and Juventus’ Weston McKennie controlled proceedings in midfield to leave Iran struggling to gain foothold.
The US signalled their attacking ambition after only two minutes, Pulisic surging forward menacingly before being dispossessed.
That was a shape of things to come as they laid siege to the Iranian goal.
Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah shot over the bar and Pulisic just failed to get enough power on a header after a cross from Antonee Robinson.
Fullback Sergino Dest was a constant threat down the right flank for the Americans, whipping a cross over in the 17th minute that Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand could only parry.
After sustained US pressure, the breakthrough finally came in the 38th minute.
A brilliant crossfield pass from McKennie picked out Dest down the right.
The AC Milan defender headed back across goal and Pulisic was on hand to bravely finish.
There was alarm for US fans with Pulisic needing sustained treatment after a heavy collision with Beiranvand but it was the Iranians and their noisy fans who were left winded by the goal.
The crowd instantly became more subdued and the US twice came close to doubling their lead before half-time.
Josh Sargent and Tim Weah combined well with a dazzling counter-attack but the final ball went astray.
Then in injury time McKennie’s sublime pass found Weah who finished brilliantly past Beiranvand only to be ruled just offside.
Knowing that an equalizer would send them into the second round, the Iranians stepped up the pressure in the second half.
But substitute Saman Ghoddos squandered two gilt-edged chances to get his team into the match, heading over from close range before blazing a shot over the bar on the 65th minute with the whole goal to aim at.
Saeid Ezatolahi curled a long-range shot over the bar soon afterwards as the Americans continued to live dangerously.
Iran threatened again inside the final 10 minutes when Ali Karimi just failed to get on the end of a teasing cross by Ezatolahi.
A diving header from Morteza Pouraliganji whistled just wide in injury time and then Mehdi Taremi had calls for a penalty after a tangle with Cameron Carter Vickers waved away as to leave American nerves jangling before their team hung on for a famous win.