Dutch football legend Clarence Seedorf announces conversion to Islam on Instagram

Dutch football legend Clarence Seedorf announces conversion to Islam on Instagram
A photo of Dutch legend Clarence Seedorf that he posted on his Instagram beside his wife Sophia Makramati announcing that he converted to Islam. (@clarenceseedorf/Instagram)
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Updated 05 March 2022

Dutch football legend Clarence Seedorf announces conversion to Islam on Instagram

Dutch football legend Clarence Seedorf announces conversion to Islam on Instagram
  • Seedorf’s post garnered more than 32,000 comments and 346,000 likes from followers
  • His wife Sophia Makramati played a role in teaching him about the meaning of Islam

DUBAI: Dutch legend Clarence Seedorf announced on his Instagram Friday that he has converted to Islam.
Praising nearly 32,000 fans, who loaded his Instagram account with messages celebrating his joining the “Muslim family,” Seedorf wrote: “I’m very happy and pleased to join the all Brothers and Sisters around the world especially my adorable Sophia (wife) who has taught me more in depth the meaning of Islam.”
Seedorf and his wife, Canadian-Iranian businesswoman Sophia Makramati, have been living in Dubai for two years.
Seedorf, the only player in football history to have won the UEFA Champions League four times with three different clubs (Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan), said he didn’t change his name and “will continue to carry my name as given by my parents, Clarence Seedorf! I’m sending all my love to everyone in the world.”
Since 2001, the Dutch football icon has created and operated football schools and community leagues across the globe including Suriname, the US, and Netherlands among others, and he also acts as adviser for club owners, football federations and football academies.
The retired midfielder won the Champions League in 1995 with Ajax, in 1998 with Real Madrid, and in 2003 and 2007 with AC Milan. He also bagged a La Liga title with Real Madrid in 1997 and two Serie A titles with AC Milan in 2004 and 2011 throughout his career.
The Instagram post in which he announced his conversion to Islam garnered more than 346,000 likes from his 1.3m followers
Most followers’ comments welcomed and congratulated Seedorf for converting to Islam.
 


Cobble king Clarke rules Tour de France stage five with bike throw

Cobble king Clarke rules Tour de France stage five with bike throw
Updated 44 sec ago

Cobble king Clarke rules Tour de France stage five with bike throw

Cobble king Clarke rules Tour de France stage five with bike throw
  • The 35-year-old Australian Clarke used a bike throw on the line in a razor thin victory over Taco van der Hoorn after Native American Neilson Powless launched a sprint in a bid for the yellow jersey but fell just short

ARENBERG, France: Simon Clarke of Israel Premier Tech won stage five of the Tour de France on Wednesday in a photo finish after a 157km run from Lille to Arenberg featuring 20km of cobbled mining roads.

Belgium’s Wout van Aert of Jumbo retained his overall leader’s yellow jersey despite a nasty fall, but his teammate Primoz Roglic lost around two minutes to defending champion and fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar.

The 35-year-old Australian Clarke used a bike throw on the line in a razor thin victory over Taco van der Hoorn after Native American Neilson Powless launched a sprint in a bid for the yellow jersey but fell just short.

“What a year,” said Clarke, who got a last-minute contract with the IPT team in December after leaving EF. “I’m ever the optimist.

“I just told myself not to panic even when the sprint started almost 1km out,” he said about the finale.

“I sat back in the slipstream, waited and waited and went for the line at the last second,” he said.

Van Aert fell early and hurt a shoulder and was almost run over by his own team car, but rallied to cling on to his overall lead by 13sec from Powless of EF.

The race goes to his native Belgium on Thursday where he can parade through 60km of roads there in the yellow jersey.

“That’s part of why I dug so deep,” he said. “But this wan’t what we had planned this morning.”

Defending champion Pogacar did the best of the pretenders to the 2022 title when he finished seventh, 51sec off the lead, putting a little time into all his rivals after threatening to pulverise them before fading in the final kilometers.

“I like the cobbles,” smiled the 23-year-old UAE leader.

“I had no bad luck, felt good and played it intelligently at the end when I knew I wouldn’t catch the leaders,” he said.

Pogacar retains the best placed under-26’s white jersey.

Ineos trio Adam yates, Tom Pidcock and Geraint Thomas all hung in and trail Pogacar by 28, 29 and 30sec respectively.

The treacherous stage raced over cobbles was doubly dangerous due to dust billowing from the bone dry surface among the corn, wheat and potato fields making it tough to breath and easy to slip.

Eleven cobbled sections totalling almost 20km of bone shaking mining roads caused much of the chaos but not all of it.

Roglic, runner-up in 2020, was brought down after Caleb Ewan collided with a stray hay bale, the Jumbo man then hitting him and struggling thereafter.

He finished 44th on the day, 2min 36sec off the lead.

Embarking from the chic northern city of Lille, good humored crowds along the roadside thickened as the race hit the cobbles in the finale.

But a grim-faced Mathieu van der Poel, a pre-race favorite, was dropped by the lead group 30km out.

Visible for his polka-dot jersey and handle-bar moustache, Magnus Cort-Nielsen was once again in the thick of the action finishing fifth and retaining the King of the Mountains shirt he took in his native Denmark on stage two.

Thursday’s sixth stage starts in the Belgian town of Binche and returns to France in the Ardennes forest for what should be a splintered finale with two short steep climbs.


Putellas loss strikes blow to Spain’s hopes of Euro 2022 breakthrough

Putellas loss strikes blow to Spain’s hopes of Euro 2022 breakthrough
Updated 31 min 55 sec ago

Putellas loss strikes blow to Spain’s hopes of Euro 2022 breakthrough

Putellas loss strikes blow to Spain’s hopes of Euro 2022 breakthrough
  • The Barcelona midfielder was expected to be one of the shining lights of the tournament until she ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament in training on Tuesday

MADRID: Spain’s ambitions of a breakthrough on the women’s international stage at Euro 2022 have been rocked by a sickening knee injury to reigning Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas.
The Barcelona midfielder was expected to be one of the shining lights of the tournament until she ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament in training on Tuesday.
Spain had been pre-tournament favorites with the bookmakers thanks to the rise of Barca as a dominant force of the club game.
However, Putellas is the second key player ruled out in a matter of weeks after all-time top goalscorer Jennifer Hermoso also suffered a knee injury.
“23 Alexias....for one dream,” Spanish sports daily Marca splashed across their front page on Wednesday with a picture of the remaining squad members.
But there is no sugar-coating how devastating a blow to Spain’s chances losing Putellas is.
The 28-year-old has become a icon at the Camp Nou with 90,000 chanting her name during Barca’s Champions League win over Real Madrid earlier this year that broke the world record for attendance at a women’s match.
“Yesterday was the day to accept it,” said Putellas’ club and international teammate Patricia Guijarro on Wednesday.
“We are desperate to get started and now we are triply determined.”
Guijarro is one of nine Barcelona players still in the squad.
Barca Femeni cruised to the Spanish title last season with 30 wins out of 30, scoring 159 goals and conceding just 11.
They also made the Champions League final, although missed out on retaining the trophy, and a treble, after being pipped in the final by Lyon.

The question remains whether the rise of the Catalan giants could launch Spain in a similar fashion to when Pep Guardiola’s Barca laid the platform for the men’s Spanish side to win two Euros in 2008 and 2012, as well as the World Cup in between.
“We are players who have been together for many years, we know each other very well,” said Leila Ouahabi, who has just left Barca for a move to Manchester City.
“We have a lot of understanding, it is good and positive to have that connection with those teammates that you have been getting to know closely for years.”
Irene Paredes and Mapi Leon will still form arguably the most distinguished defensive pairing in the tournament.
Guijarro and Aitana Bonmati’s presence mean Spain will also still have one of the most talented midfields despite Putellas’ injury.
But there is little time for La Roja to lick their wounds as they find themselves in the group of death alongside eight-time winners Germany, 2017 finalists Denmark and Finland.
It is 25 years since Spain last reached even the semifinals at a Women’s Euro, while at the World Cup, their best performance was when they went out to the United States in the last 16 three years ago.
Now they have to handle the weight of huge expectation as well as the loss of their biggest name.
“It seems that if we don’t win or get knocked out, it’ll be a drama,” said Leon.
“From the outside there is unnecessary pressure. Inside the squad, everything is super-positive and everyone is really looking forward to the tournament, but it’s not easy.”


Mead gives England winning start in Women's European Championship

Mead gives England winning start in Women's European Championship
Updated 47 min 22 sec ago

Mead gives England winning start in Women's European Championship

Mead gives England winning start in Women's European Championship
  • The narrow margin of victory reflected a close game in which England dominated possession but couldn’t create enough clear chances to match their more convincing pre-tournament wins over teams like Belgium, Denmark and the defending champion Netherlands

MANCHESTER, England: Beth Mead scored the only goal of the game as host England beat Austria 1-0 in front of a tournament-record crowd of 68,871 at Old Trafford in the Women’s European Championship opener on Wednesday.

Mead skillfully flicked the ball over Austria goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger in the 16th minute but it needed goal-line technology to prove it had just crossed the line before being cleared.

“What an amazing night, it’s great to start the tournament with a win and I’m glad to get a goal for my team,” Mead told the BBC. “I was pretty sure it went over (the line) but you always doubt yourself.”

The narrow margin of victory reflected a close game in which England dominated possession but couldn’t create enough clear chances to match their more convincing pre-tournament wins over teams like Belgium, Denmark and the defending champion Netherlands.

The 16-team tournament kicked off a year later than originally scheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic. It carries hopes that it will further boost the fast-growing audience for women’s soccer in Europe, and UEFA has said more than 500,000 tickets have been sold. The previous record attendance for a European Championship game was 41,301 for the 2013 final between Germany and Norway at the Friends Arena in Stockholm.

Since the last tournament in 2017, England has been at the forefront of that development as Women’s Super League clubs signed many of the world’s best players and increased revenue and TV audiences. Now unbeaten in 15 games over the last year, the England national team is still seeking a first major tournament title.

Austria was a surprise semifinalist in the 2017 European Championship on its only previous appearance, when it conceded one goal in five games and only lost in a penalty shootout.

England goalkeeper Mary Earps stopped Austria getting a point Wednesday when she dived at full stretch in the 78th to stop Barbara Dunst’s dangerous curling shot.

England could earlier have scored more when Ellen White headed wide in the 26th and Zinsberger reacted quickly to keep out Lauren Hemp’s effort in first-half stoppage time.

“We should have scored a couple of times to make it easier, but overall I’m very happy. We have a win, and don’t underestimate Austria — they are a very well-organized team,” England manager Sarina Wiegman, who coached the Netherlands to the 2017 title, told the BBC. “I’m not frustrated, I just think we can do better. Sometimes we rushed. We have to be a little calmer in the final stage.”


Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur’s date with history

Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur’s date with history
Updated 06 July 2022

Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur’s date with history

Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur’s date with history
  • Coach Nabil Mlika recalls training a talented girl ‘determined to stand out’ against both female and male peers

HAMMAM SOUSSE, Tunisia: Ons Jabeur will make history on Thursday when she walks on to the Centre Court at Wimbledon as the first Arab woman to compete in a Grand Slam semifinal.

Fifteen years ago, Ons Jabeur’s young tennis sparring partner could see the Tunisian was destined for glory — even if he suffered a broken arm in the process.

Omar Laabidi remembers being repeatedly beaten by a 12-year-old Jabeur.

“We used to call her ‘Roger Federer’,” Laabidi said.

He was talking at the tennis club where it all began, in the North African country’s coastal town of Hammam Sousse.

“One time during a training match she hit a drop shot that I tried so hard to return that I broke my arm,” he said.

Jabeur had started by playing on courts belonging to local hotels but she soon joined the Tennis Club Hammam Sousse, which now bears a huge portrait of its most famous graduate.

Coach Nabil Mlika recalls training a talented girl “determined to stand out” against both female and male peers.

It is a determination that has taken her all the way to the world No. 2  spot — one place behind Poland’s Iga Swiatek.

But Mlika, who trained a young Jabeur for 10 years, said there was a moment where she almost quit the sport.

“She had great ball control, to the point where other coaches tried to attract her to handball,” said the 55-year-old.

“Ons thought seriously about switching sports — but decided to stick to tennis.”

The 27-year-old Tunisian’s fighting spirit has been on show throughout her career.

Despite crashing out in the first round of the French Open in May, she surged back to win the Berlin WTA singles title a few weeks later.

Her appearance in the Wimbledon semis — against close friend and ‘barbecue buddy’ Tatjana Maria — comes just two weeks after she was forced to withdraw from the Eastbourne tournament, where she was partnering Serena Williams in the doubles, with a knee injury.

Jabeur, known to many Tunisians as “the minister for happiness,” was born in the southern coastal town of Ksar Hellal, one of four siblings.

She moved to the capital, Tunis, at the age of 12 to train at a highly rated state-backed sports club.

She has been married to her physical trainer, and former fencer, Karim Kamoun, since 2015.

The right-hander is known for her stamina and the variety of her play.

 

 

“She hates playing at one pace,” said Mlika. “She’s always trying to create a spectacle by switching up the game with shots that surprise her opponents, especially with drop shots.

“She’s really the queen of the drop shot.”

Jabeur made a splash on the global scene in 2011, winning the girls’ singles at the French Open at the age of 16.

Laabidi also moved to Tunis around the same time as the adolescent Jabeur and joined the same academy, where they continued sparring.

“She was always fun and quickly got to know strangers,” he said.

“But she was always provocative and competitively debating on all subjects.”

Those who knew her as a teenager say she has changed little despite her growing fame.

“She still runs around gathering up all the balls during training, which she’s been doing since she started playing,” said Mlika.

Unsurprisingly, as her fame has spiralled membership levels have skyrocketed at her home club, from 320 in 2018 to more than 700 today.

For Yousra Koubaa, the mother of eight-year-old student Yasmine, Jabeur is “an example of hope, one we’re always showing to our children.”

Mlika says he uses photos of a young Jabeur to inspire his students today.

“She was a spark of enthusiasm, always moving and wanting to show that she was the best,” he said.

“She always put me in a difficult position because I had to balance between taking the training up a level, or waiting for her peers to catch up with her level and her pace.”


Nadal to face Kyrgios after surviving Wimbledon injury scare

Nadal to face Kyrgios after surviving Wimbledon injury scare
Updated 06 July 2022

Nadal to face Kyrgios after surviving Wimbledon injury scare

Nadal to face Kyrgios after surviving Wimbledon injury scare
  • The second seed lost the first set and had to take a medical time-out in the second
  • Nadal admitted after the match that he was suffering from an abdominal problem

LONDON: Rafael Nadal beat Taylor Fritz in a gruelling five-setter on Wednesday to set up a blockbuster Wimbledon semifinal against Nick Kyrgios, but revealed that an abdomen injury almost forced him to quit mid-match.
The second seed lost the first set and had to take a medical time-out in the second but raised his game to win 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10/4) in a match lasting four hours and 21 minutes.
Earlier, Australian maverick Kyrgios cruised past Chile’s Cristian Garin 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).
Nadal admitted after the match that he was suffering from an abdominal problem, which forced him to leave the court.
“I had to find a way to serve a little bit different,” he said. “For a lot of moments I was thinking I would not be able to finish the match but the crowd, the energy, thanks for that.”
He added: “I honestly enjoy a lot playing these kind of matches in front of you guys. I can’t thank you enough for the support.”
Kyrgios, ranked 40th in the world, trails Nadal 6-3 in their head-to-head meetings but he beat the Spaniard on his way to the quarter-finals in 2014 and is seen as a major threat to his hopes of reaching a sixth Wimbledon final.

A pumped-up Nadal raced out of the blocks on Center Court to take a 3-1 lead but then lost five straight games to lose the first set.
The players swapped breaks in the second set but Nadal was not moving freely and when leading 4-3 he took a medical time-out.
When he returned, American 11th seed Fritz served out to love, with Nadal’s movement still looking hampered.
But the Spaniard twice held serve comfortably to lead 6-5 and a backhand volley into the open court sealed the second set, to roars from the crowd.
Nadal, 36, was now moving more easily but the pendulum swung again early in the third set when the two-time Wimbledon champion double-faulted to hand his opponent a break, with Fritz repeating the dose to take the third set.
There were five breaks in a topsy-turvy fourth set but Nadal came out on top to level the match.
The first six games of the deciding set went with serve before a break apiece as the pressure mounted.
The set went to a tie-break and Nadal seized control, racing into a 9-3 lead and completing the win on his second match point.
Nadal, who has already won the Australian Open and the French Open this year, is halfway to the first calendar Grand Slam by a man since Rod Laver in 1969.
He is also bidding to win his 23rd Grand Slam title and equal Serena Williams in second place on the all-time list for most Grand Slam singles titles. Margaret Court is the leader on 24 titles.

Kyrgios reached the last four at the All England Club with relative ease.
The 27-year-old was broken just once by Garin and hit 35 winners as he reached his first Grand Slam semifinal.
“I never thought I’d be in the semifinal of a Grand Slam,” said the Australian. “I thought that ship had sailed, that I may have wasted that little window in my career.
“I am really happy I was able to come out here with my team and able to put on a performance.”
Kyrgios is the first Australian man into the semifinals at Wimbledon since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005.
But he went into the match under a new cloud of controversy after it emerged he faces an Australian court next month to answer an allegation of assault.
His 2022 Wimbledon has also been a rollercoaster on the court.
Brilliant, crowd-pleasing shot-making has been accompanied by $14,000 in fines and an ugly, bitter spat with third-round rival Stefanos Tsitsipas.