Al-Ahly and ES Setif set for an all-Arab semi-final in the African Champions League

Al-Ahly and ES Setif set for an all-Arab semi-final in the African Champions League
Al-Ahly players celebrate their equalizer against Raja Casablanca on Friday night. (Arriyadiyah)
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Updated 23 April 2022

Al-Ahly and ES Setif set for an all-Arab semi-final in the African Champions League

Al-Ahly and ES Setif set for an all-Arab semi-final in the African Champions League

Egypt’s Al-Ahly and Algeria’s ES Setif are set for an all-Arab semi-final in the African Champions League after negotiating difficult second legs in the quarterfinals on Friday night.

Reigning champions Al-Ahly managed a 1-1 draw against Raja Casablanca of Morocco after winning an ill-tempered and controversial first leg 2-1 in Cairo.

Fabrice Ngoma gave Raja the lead after only five minutes but Al-Ahly equalized on the night through defender Mohamed Abdelmonem just before half-time for 3-2 aggregate win.

The Egyptian giants hold the record for most wins in the competition with 10 titles, and will now be eying third win in a row.

Meanwhile ES Setif, champions in 2014, defeated their hosts Esperance of Tunisia 1-0 after a goalless match in the fits leg.

Abdelmoumene Djabou scored the only goal of the match for ES Setif in the 21st minute.


It’s personal: Canelo predicts KO in 3rd bout with Golovkin

It’s personal: Canelo predicts KO in 3rd bout with Golovkin
Updated 20 sec ago

It’s personal: Canelo predicts KO in 3rd bout with Golovkin

It’s personal: Canelo predicts KO in 3rd bout with Golovkin
  • The Mexican superstar declared his third fight with Golovkin to be a grudge match Friday as they began promoting their showdown with a news conference in Hollywood

ANGELES: Canelo Álvarez is hurting after his first loss in nearly a decade, and he’s still angry about everything that’s happened during five years of fighting and arguing with Gennady Golovkin.

Álvarez says he is determined to channel all of those bad feelings into a spectacular knockout win over Golovkin when they complete their rivalry trilogy on Sept. 17 in Las Vegas.

The Mexican superstar declared his third fight with Golovkin to be a grudge match Friday as they began promoting their showdown with a news conference in Hollywood. Álvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs) was beaten in stunning fashion by light heavyweight Dmitry Bivol seven weeks ago, but he guaranteed he will “definitely” punch the 40-year-old Golovkin into retirement by stopping him for the first time in his career.

“(It will be) so sweet,” Álvarez said. “For me, it’s going to be very satisfying because of everything that’s come around this fight.”

Álvarez’s personal dislike of Golovkin seemed awfully genuine, even while Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs) downplayed any personal animus. The fighters stood nose-to-nose and motionless on stage in Hollywood for nearly two full minutes before a fairly terse news conference.

Neither fighter can deny their rivalry has included years of trash talk, particularly after Canelo’s failed drug test in 2018, preceding the only loss of Golovkin’s career.

“He always pretends to be a nice guy in front of people, but he’s a (jerk),” Álvarez said. “That’s what he is. I don’t pretend to be nice. This is who I am. I don’t pretend to be another person, and he’s always pretending in front of you, ‘Oh, I’m a nice guy.’ He’s not.”

They’ve also met in two incredibly close fights that stand among the best moments of both fighters’ careers. The first bout in 2017 was ruled a split draw, while Álvarez won the rematch by a narrow majority decision.

Golovkin sought a third fight much earlier than Álvarez. The coronavirus pandemic played a role in Álvarez’s decision to wait four years for the rubber match, but he also admits he waited partly because he simply doesn’t like Golovkin.

Golovkin dismisses Álvarez’s bold statements about a knockout as fight posturing.

“If it’s so personal for him, my question is why was he putting off the (third fight) for so long?” Golovkin asked through his interpreter. “If it’s personal, you should ask him why.”

Álvarez says it’s because he was busy rounding up all four super middleweight title belts in 2021 — but it’s also because of Golovkin’s trash talk, particularly in languages other than English. Álvarez wasn’t specific about what comments set him off.

Golovkin reacted to his 2018 loss to Canelo with characteristic cool, yet he has fought only four times in the ensuing four years while he sought the chance for redemption and the massive payday offered by a third fight with Álvarez. Golovkin took 2021 off before returning to the ring last April with a ninth-round stoppage of Ryota Murata.

“From an emotional standpoint, I’ve completely cooled down,” Golovkin claimed. “I believe it’s just another fight. But I was still fighting, and he was participating in golf tournaments. That’s something he should do, but jumping around in weight classes, I don’t know.”

Golovkin’s comment was veiled shade at Álvarez, whose near-daily golf habit became a popular thing to blame for his surprising loss to Bivol last month. Álvarez said he absolutely won’t stop playing golf, but he intends to improve the conditioning that left him visibly wearier as the fight with Bivol went on.

“He always talks about I’m scared, I’m running away,” Álvarez said. “(He says) I’m not fighting the best guys out there, (while) he’s fighting those Class D fighters. He’s talking a lot of things about me, so that’s why it’s special to me.”

Golovkin will move up to super middleweight for the first time in his career for the third bout with Álvarez, who holds all four major championship belts at 168 pounds. Golovkin was the long-reigning kingpin of the middleweight division before his loss to Álvarez, but he has since reclaimed two of the belts.

Both fighters live in Southern California. They’ll meet again on Monday in New York.

 


UEFA blocks Sheriff hosting European games in Transnistria

UEFA blocks Sheriff hosting European games in Transnistria
Updated 24 June 2022

UEFA blocks Sheriff hosting European games in Transnistria

UEFA blocks Sheriff hosting European games in Transnistria
  • No UEFA competition match shall be played in the region of Transnistria, in Moldova, until further notice
  • “The decision is based on considerations and the conclusions consistently drawn by agencies specialized in international political and strategic analysis,” UEFA said

NYON, Switzerland: The fallout for soccer from Russia’s war on Ukraine saw UEFA block Sheriff Tiraspol on Friday from hosting European competition games in their breakaway home region in Moldova.
Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk went to play Champions League games last season at the tiny Sheriff Stadium in Transnistria that borders Ukraine.
But the club which have strong business and political ties to Russia cannot host Bosnian champion Zrinjski at their home on July 13 for a second-leg game in the first qualifying round of the next Champions League.
“In light of the large-scale military escalation resulting in the invasion of the Ukrainian territory by the Russian army, the UEFA executive committee has today decided that no UEFA competition match shall be played in the region of Transnistria, in Moldova, until further notice,” the European soccer body said.
Tiraspol is also about 90 kilometers (55 miles) from the Ukrainian city of Odesa, which is a regular target of Russian missiles.
“The decision is based on considerations and the conclusions consistently drawn by agencies specialized in international political and strategic analysis,” UEFA said.
Sheriff, which have won the Moldovan league in 20 of the past 22 seasons, could choose to play games in the nation’s capital city Chisinau.
If Sheriff eliminates Zrinjski, the next opponent in July will be Shakhtyor Soligorsk of Belarus or Slovenian champion Maribor.
Shakhtyor are playing their home games in neutral Turkey because of a separate UEFA ruling in March that national and club teams from Russia’s military ally Belarus cannot host games in European competitions.
The loser between Sheriff and Zrinjski continues playing in the qualifying rounds of the third-tier Europa Conference League.


Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee celebrates Olympic Day in Riyadh

Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee celebrates Olympic Day in Riyadh
Updated 24 June 2022

Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee celebrates Olympic Day in Riyadh

Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee celebrates Olympic Day in Riyadh
  • A sporting festival held at the Prince Faisal Olympic Complex and in the heart of Kingdom’s capital

RIYADH: The Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee (SOPC) celebrated Olympic Day in Riyadh on Thursday at the Prince Faisal ibn Fahd Olympic Complex.

The organization’s CEO, Abdulaziz Alenazi, was in attendance at the event, along with SOPC employees, who took part in the annual tradition of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to celebrate June 23 along with 206 other International Olympic Committees.

The SOPC, in addition, held a public Olympic exhibition in a Commercial Mall at the heart of Riyadh, which included cultural and interactive activities to promote and disseminate the principles and values ​​of the Olympic movement (“move-learn-discover”) to encourage all segments of society to engage in sports activities in addition to providing souvenirs to visitors to the center.

SOPC helps to facilitate the investment of the Saudi government into sporting initiatives as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 targets.


Al-Khelaïfi acquitted again, Valcke guilty in FIFA retrial

Al-Khelaïfi acquitted again, Valcke guilty in FIFA retrial
Updated 24 June 2022

Al-Khelaïfi acquitted again, Valcke guilty in FIFA retrial

Al-Khelaïfi acquitted again, Valcke guilty in FIFA retrial
  • Al-Khelaïfi was cleared again of a charge of incitement to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement
  • The Swiss federal criminal court found Valcke guilty of repeated forgery and passive corruption

GENEVA: Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi was acquitted in Switzerland on Friday for a second time in a retrial of alleged wrongdoing linked to former FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke.
Al-Khelaïfi was cleared again of a charge of incitement to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement for allowing Valcke to use a vacation home in Sardinia rent free. Prosecutors tried to link the home, bought by a Qatari company in 2013, to Al-Khelaïfi-led broadcaster beIN Media Group getting a renewed World Cup rights deal from FIFA.
Valcke, who was FIFA’s top administrator for eight years until being removed in 2015, was acquitted again of criminal mismanagement and convicted on separate charges not involving Al-Khelaïfi. They relate to taking kickbacks in negotiations for World Cup broadcast rights in Italy and Greece.
The Swiss federal criminal court found Valcke guilty of repeated forgery and passive corruption. He was given a longer suspended sentence — 11 months instead of three — than he received after the original trial in September 2020.
Lawyers for Valcke said in a statement he would appeal and “the guilty verdict is therefore in no way final.”
A third defendant, Greek marketing executive Dinos Deris, was convicted of active corruption and given a 10-month suspended sentence after first being acquitted in 2020. He was again cleared of inciting Valcke to mismanagement against FIFA’s interests.
The sentences for Valcke and Deris were both suspended for probationary periods of two years.
The retrial was held in March at the Swiss federal criminal court after prosecutors appealed against the original verdicts.
Al-Khelaïfi’s second acquittal was hailed by his legal team as “total vindication.”
“The years of baseless allegations, fictitious charges and constant smears have been proven to be completely and wholly unsubstantiated — twice,” lawyer Marc Bonnant said in a statement.
During a five-year investigation, Al-Khelaïfi, who is also a member of the World Cup host nation’s government, rose in power and status in European soccer.
Despite being a suspect in Swiss criminal proceedings, Al-Khelaïfi was elected in 2019 to join the UEFA executive committee and now leads the influential European Club Association after PSG refused to join the failed Super League project last year.
The prosecution case against Al-Khelaïfi focused on beIN’s renewal of World Cup rights in the Middle East and North Africa with FIFA around the time the Italian villa was bought.
Lawyers for Al-Khelaïfi argued beIN’s deal for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups, said in court to be worth $480 million in total, was good for FIFA.
While often using the vacation home from 2013 to 2015, Valcke also oversaw FIFA-led talks to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from June and July to the cooler months of November and December. FIFA was also awaiting, then dealing with the fallout from, its ethics committee’s investigation into the 2018-2022 World Cup bidding contests.
The charges proven against Valcke related to filing three payments totaling 1.25 million euros ($1.32 million) to his personal company’s accounts as loans.
However, the three appeal court judges withdrew an order made in 2020 for Valcke to pay FIFA 1.75 million euros ($1.84 million) in restitution.
“Mr. Valcke did not harm FIFA and his full acquittal on the counts of mismanagement has therefore logically been confirmed,” his legal firm, Geneva-based RVMH Attorneys, said in a statement. “Just as logically, the criminal justice system has now rejected FIFA’s civil claims.”
FIFA declined comment until studying the judges’ written verdict which the court has said will likely not be published before September.
Valcke’s convictions were announced in the same week that former FIFA president Sepp Blatter was on trial in the same Bellinzona courthouse in a separate case. Blatter and former UEFA president Michel Platini faced fraud, forgery and financial misconduct charges.
Verdicts are due on July 8 in that case, which relates to a Blatter-approved FIFA payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($2 million) to Platini in 2011.
Blatter and Valcke are still suspects in a separate Swiss criminal proceeding that also involves former FIFA finance director Markus Kattner. That case is about a $1 million FIFA payment to the Trinidad and Tobago soccer federation in 2010.
Al-Khelaïfi has also been under investigation by financial prosecutors in Paris for payments linked to Qatari bids to host the track and field world championships, which were staged in Doha in 2019.


UAE’s Arabian Ocean Rowing Team to cross Atlantic in support of clean seas

UAE’s Arabian Ocean Rowing Team to cross Atlantic in support of clean seas
Updated 24 June 2022

UAE’s Arabian Ocean Rowing Team to cross Atlantic in support of clean seas

UAE’s Arabian Ocean Rowing Team to cross Atlantic in support of clean seas
  • Team partners with UN Environment Programme to raise awareness of marine waste
  • Trio will set off in 8-meter-long boat from Canary Islands in December

DUBAI: The UAE’s Arabian Ocean Rowing Team is aiming to row 5,000 kilometers across the Atlantic Ocean in support of the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Clean Seas campaign.

The team announced a partnership with UNEP, which works with individuals and businesses to transform habits, practices, and standards around the globe to reduce marine waste.

The three-man team of James Raley, Rai Tamagnini and Toby Gregory will cross the Atlantic in an 8-meter-long boat in December this year.

Considered one of the last great adventures on the planet, more people have climbed Mount Everest or traveled into space than have rowed the journey unsupported across the Atlantic Ocean from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean.

The UAE team will be totally self-sufficient for the duration of their expedition, relying entirely on desalinated seawater to hydrate, solar energy to power batteries and electronics, and eating freeze-dried food, all while confined to the small rowing boat.

They will face waves up to 40 feet high and extended sleep deprivation, rowing two hours on, two hours off for 24 hours a day.

Oceans are Earth’s largest biosphere and home to up to 80 percent of all life in the world, generating 50 percent of the oxygen we need and absorbing 25 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions.

By capturing 90 percent of the additional heat generated from those emissions, oceans are a vital buffer against the impacts of climate change.

Without urgent action to conserve, protect, restore and sustainably manage marine ecosystems, the ocean will not be able to continue its major role in limiting and adapting toward climate change, threatening food security and economic stability.

The Arabian Ocean Rowing Team will use their ocean row to bring global publicity to environmental sustainability, reducing marine litter and protecting the oceans.

Through initiatives such as the team’s #BePartOfIt campaign, and visiting schools and business across the UAE, the team is raising awareness about ocean health and the issues caused by plastic pollution.

On their journey across the Atlantic, the trio will also take science experiments, designed by students, so that the public can understand firsthand how plastic pollution has impacted the ocean.

Toby Gregory, Arabian Ocean Rowing Team founder and project director, said: “It is a great honor and a privilege for the Arabian Ocean Rowing Team to be working alongside amazing and talented individuals within the Clean Seas initiative and campaign.

“The ocean and coastal ecosystems sit at the nexus of the triple planetary crisis, the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis and the pollution and waste crisis. The Clean Seas campaign has led the way in the global effort against marine litter and plastic pollution. Marine pollution is a complex problem and there is no simple solution; every one of us has a part to play.”