Dubai hosts a new cricket tournament to grow the women’s game 

Dubai hosts a new cricket tournament to grow the women’s game 
Six teams consisting of 90 players from 35 countries will compete across 19 matches. (Source: FairBeak)
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Updated 05 May 2022

Dubai hosts a new cricket tournament to grow the women’s game 

Dubai hosts a new cricket tournament to grow the women’s game 
  • The SDG FairBreak Invitational 2022 Tournament, initially scheduled to take place in Hong Kong, involves six teams and will run until May 15

While the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) shakes its predominantly men-only Indian Premier League (IPL) money tree, the world’s first privately funded tournament in the history of women’s cricket opened in Dubai on May 1.

Entitled the SDG FairBreak Invitational 2022 Tournament, it is sanctioned by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Six teams consisting of 90 players from 35 countries will compete across 19 matches until the Final on May 15. The inaugural tournament, organized by Cricket Hong Kong, was due to be held there, but the location had to be moved owing to COVID-19 restrictions. 

The players are from a mixture of Full Member and Associate Member countries. There was no players’ auction. Instead, an organizing committee invited cricketers and then allocated them to one of the six teams.

This provides a welcome opportunity for associate players to play against and alongside some of the world’s best female cricketers. It also enables players from Full Member countries to gain an understanding of the challenges faced by associate players, as well as appreciating their skill sets.

Most national cricket boards have been delighted to allow their players to take part. Cricket South Africa’s CEO regarded the involvement of six players as “another sign that South African women’s cricket is a force to be reckoned with,” while four players from the US women’s national team will participate. Five English contracted players were invited to play and, despite the tournament clashing with the start of a domestic cup competition, three of them will be playing in Dubai.

Unfortunately, for obvious reasons, there will be no Afghan players featuring in the tournament, nor any Indian players. The BCCI did not grant any No Objection Certificates, which players are required to have from their national board in order to participate in a domestic league in another country. The cited reason was that the Senior Women’s domestic T20 Trophy did not end until May 4. Since the opening match of the FairBreak tournament is not until that day, it is hard to resist the feeling that the invited Indian players have not had a fair break.

Furthermore, there is no clash with the BCCI’s IPL women’s sideshow, a three-team T20 Challenge, set for its fourth edition between May 24 and 28. Pressure to grow this event has met with stonewalling by the BCCI, which judges that there is not enough depth in the women’s game in India to justify further investment at this stage. Others in Indian cricket do not share this view.

The lukewarm attitude of the BCCI does provide the opportunity for others to take the initiative. Prior to standing down as chair of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Ramiz Raja was promoting the idea of a Pakistan Women’s T20 Super League. The introduction of the Hundred in England in 2021 notably enhanced opportunities for women, while the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia has completed seven editions.

Earlier than that, in 2013, a few individuals formed a Women’s International Cricket League (WICL). Its initial aim was to provide more opportunities and improved remuneration for women cricketers by attracting the world’s best players in similar fashion to the IPL for men. This proposal met with no approval from either Cricket Australia or the England and Wales Cricket Board and was not endorsed by the ICC. Instead, they emphasized that they each were enacting plans to professionalize and develop women’s cricket.

Over the last seven years, cricket’s authorities would argue, no doubt, that a structured set of competitions and progression pathways have been implemented. Yet, a gender remuneration gap remains. Rebuttal of the WICL’s proposals by cricket’s establishment caused its founders to re-think and reset. The WICL concept was dropped and out of this impasse a vision was developed whereby people have fair and equal access to succeed in their chosen endeavor, independent of gender or geographical location. Under the FairBreak concept, cricket is the primary vehicle for pursuing the objective of equality on a global scale.

FairBreak has organized individual matches in which women cricketers from both Full Member and Associate Member countries have been brought together. Prior to the pandemic, a four-match tour of England took place in 2019, while annual fixtures had been established at the Sir Paul Getty ground at Wormsley in England and at the Sir Donald Bradman ground at Bowral in Australia. The latter match was claimed to be the first ever women’s T20 match to be screened live worldwide. Resumption of these fixtures is set for 2022.

Comprehensive live coverage of the SDG FairBreak Invitational 2022 to 142 countries is in place through 14 selected broadcast partners. A combination of traditional TV broadcasters, new over-the-top media sources and digital-only platforms will maximize distribution and the availability of content to fans of all ages. In the host territory of the UAE, coverage will be secured via Etisalat who will broadcast every match live via eLife and STARZ Play. Spectators can also attend the tournament live at Dubai International Stadium.

In late March 2022, the SDG Impact Fund was announced as the title sponsor for the tournament. The Fund focuses on regenerative philanthropic impact in line with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The fund is US-based and is a good strategic fit with both FairBreak’s aims and current efforts to grow the game in the US for both men and women. Healthcare company Gencor will continue as lead sponsor.

The 2022 tournament represents an important milestone for both FairBreak’s growth and its efforts to generate more funding, more expertise and more opportunities for women to play cricket. Its focus on equality in sport provides a different angle on the development of women’s cricket by integrating players from ICC Full Member and emerging countries. It seems that it is finding a way to co-exist alongside the institutional bodies vested with cricket’s governance.

All of them ought to share a common goal of expanding women’s cricket on an equal footing.


Mane’s Liverpool future hangs in the balance ahead of European final

Mane’s Liverpool future hangs in the balance ahead of European final
Updated 12 sec ago

Mane’s Liverpool future hangs in the balance ahead of European final

Mane’s Liverpool future hangs in the balance ahead of European final
  • The Senegalese star, who has been at Liverpool since 2016 and has a year left on his deal, teased this week that he “will answer after the Champions League (final) if I’m staying or not”

PARIS: Sadio Mané’s last game for Liverpool could be on Saturday in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.

The Senegal international’s future was a hot topic on Friday when Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp held his pre-match news conference at Stade de France in Paris.

Klopp was unwilling to make any guarantees about Mane staying at Liverpool, amid reported interest from German champion Bayern Munich.

“This is the wrong moment to speak about that,” Klopp said. “Wherever Sadio will play next season, he will be a big player, definitely.”

Mane, who has been at Liverpool since 2016 and has a year left on his deal, teased this week that he “will answer after the Champions League (final) if I’m staying or not.”

“Come back to me on Saturday,” Mane added in an interview with Sky Sports, “and I will give you the best answer you want to hear, for sure. It’s special.”

Klopp seemed irritated that stories about Mane’s future have come up before the Champions League final and suggested it might have something to do with him being the former coach of Borussia Dortmund — the biggest title rival of Bayern Munich in Germany.

“It’s not the first time in my career that before a decisive game, Bayern Munich rumors are coming up,” Klopp said. “I don’t know what I did. It happens.”

Klopp also expressed his surprise that a new playing surface had been laid at the Stade de France late Thursday, barely two days before the biggest match in European club soccer.

Paris is a replacement host for the game, with Saint Petersburg — where it was initially scheduled to be played — stripped of hosting rights after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The field has been belatedly relaid because there were concerts staged at the stadium last weekend.

“Obviously not the best news for both teams. I have no idea how it will be,” Klopp said.

“If somebody thought it was a good idea to bring the pitch the day before the game, it’s an interesting idea, to be honest. But it didn’t kill my mood a percent. I’m really happy we were here — we would have played on a petanque (surface).”


French international forward Moussa Diaby is NUFC’s top target

French international forward Moussa Diaby is NUFC’s top target
Updated 53 min 59 sec ago

French international forward Moussa Diaby is NUFC’s top target

French international forward Moussa Diaby is NUFC’s top target
  • Diaby, along with Renan Lodi of Atletico Madrid and Sven Botman of Lille, are all thought to be under consideration by the United hierarchy.

NEWCASTLE: Bayer Leverkusen's Moussa Diaby has emerged as a top Newcastle United target this summer.
Arab News understands the Magpies are monitoring the situation of the French international forward as they look to strengthen their lot in the transfer window. Trading opens in the Premier League on Friday, June 10.
The 22-year-old, former Paris Saint-Germain wide player has been a revelation in Germany this season, scoring 13 goals and providing 12 assists as Leverkusen qualified for the Champions League in 2022/23.
And while the Magpies cannot offer top level European football, they can offer players the chance to be part of the most exciting project in world football, as well as showcase themselves in the most competitive division on the planet, the Premier League.
Diaby, along with Renan Lodi of Atletico Madrid and Sven Botman of Lille, are all thought to be under consideration by the United hierarchy.
And St James' Park chiefs have been given encouragement in their pursuit of Netherlands prospect Botman.
Lille proved reluctant sellers in the January window as United had bid after bid rejected for the player, despite being welcomed to the table by the Ligue 1 outfit.
This summer, it has been widely expected, and reported in the Italian press, the left-footed central defender would put pen to paper at AC Milan.
However, club legend and current technical director Paolo Maldini has cast doubt on the move being a cast iron certainty while speaking to Italian outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport. 
Talks between Botman’s representatives - headed up by agent Nikkie Bruinenberg - and Milan are understood to have progressed well at the back end of the season and terms, as reported elsewhere, are believed to have been agreed.
But the door has been left ajar for United.
On Botman, Maldini said: “We followed him, but there are many good players in that role.”
And when comparison is made between his comments on the 21-year-old and those on outgoing Liverpool striker Divock Origi, a deal widely understood to be at a similar stage of negotiations, the differences are stark.
Maldini continued: “Sure, we are talking with (Divock) Origi, this is well advanced. Let’s not forget that (Olivier) Giroud is a champion, a high-level player. But we also have (Ante) Rebic. The solutions are there. Then it is normal that to compete you have to think about improving something. We will move according to the budget.”
Meanwhile, a deal to have Brighton transfer chief Dan Ashworth in place for the opening of the transfer window looks to be progressing.
It's understood Ashworth is on Tyneside to complete his move - and he should take up the role of Sporting Director imminently.
Ashworth resigned from his role at the Amex Stadium in February, but has been on 'gardening leave' ever since.


Leclerc completes ‘double top’ for Ferrari in Monaco practice

Leclerc completes ‘double top’ for Ferrari in Monaco practice
Updated 27 May 2022

Leclerc completes ‘double top’ for Ferrari in Monaco practice

Leclerc completes ‘double top’ for Ferrari in Monaco practice
  • The 24-year-old Monegasque driver clocked a best lap in one minute and 12.656 seconds to outpace the Spaniard by just 0.044 seconds
  • After topping the times in the opening session, Leclerc was quickly back on the pace in his Ferrari, running on hard tyres

MONTE CARLO, Monaco: Charles Leclerc completed a convincing ‘double top’ at his home Monaco Grand Prix on Friday, finishing second practice fastest ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz.
The 24-year-old Monegasque driver, who was also quickest in the opening session, clocked a best lap in one minute and 12.656 seconds to outpace the Spaniard by just 0.044 seconds, leaving the two Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and world champion Max Verstappen third and fourth, more than three-tenths adrift.
Lando Norris, still battling tonsilitis, was fifth for McLaren ahead of George Russell of Mercedes and Pierre Gasly, an impressive seventh for the Alpha Tauri team on a very warm afternoon in the Mediterranean principality.
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso was eighth for Alpine ahead of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin and Yuki Tsunoda in the second Alpha Tauri.
This left a disgruntled Lewis Hamilton down in 12th, behind Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, in the second Mercedes, the seven-time champion struggling with continued bouncing as he sought a set-up that would be comfortable and fast.
The session was interrupted once by a red flag when Daniel Ricciardo crashed in the Swimming Pool complex, emerging unscathed from his damaged McLaren.
After topping the times in the opening session, Leclerc was quickly back on the pace in his Ferrari, running on hard tires, as he sought to become the first Monegasque to score points at home since Louis Chiron finished third in 1950 and regain the lead in this year’s drivers’ championship.
After his third consecutive win in Spain last Sunday, Dutchman Verstappen leads on 110 points, six ahead of Leclerc.
In a fast-switching contest between them, the Red Bulls and Ferraris were within two-tenths of a second of each other as Russell and the rest bumped in pursuit, Mercedes still searching for a successful set-up.
In opening practice, Hamilton had complained of continued serious bouncing described by team chief Toto Wolff as making their car ‘undriveable’.
He explained it was not the same ‘porpoising’ as seen earlier this year, but a ride height problem.
“Sometimes, it is a combination of aerodynamics and stiffness, but this is just due to the stiffness,” he said, adding that Hamilton had requested padding for his elbows for the second session.
“We’ll try to make it more enjoyable for them, but we want a fast car,” he said. “If it’s fast, we will make him all the pads he needs.”
Ricciardo delivered another example of the bumpy challenge the drivers faced after 14 minutes when he lost control of his McLaren and smacked into the barriers at the ‘swimming pool’ complex.
He was unhurt but his car suffered severe front damage, ending his participation. A seven-minute delay for the day’s second red flag ensued before Valtteri Bottas, back in action after earlier gearbox problems, led the field back in his Alfa Romeo.
The pause offered all involved a chance to breathe and relax in the heat, with an air temperature of 30 degrees and the track at 53, before returning to an intense ‘qualifying rehearsal’ scrap.
Leclerc continued to look dominant, trimming his lap to 1:12.656, three-tenths clear of an improved Perez before Sainz climbed back to second, two-tenths off the pace.
At this point, with 20 minutes to go, Ferrari were on top of Red Bull’s challenge, while others scrambled and scraped. Russell clipped the barriers at Tabac, Norris did the same at Ste Devote and Hamilton locked up at Mirabeau — three Britons sliding in the heat before switching to longer high fuel-load running.
Leclerc was notable for his absence with 12 minutes remaining, but he returned for the final six to complete a solid day’s work by the ‘scarlet Scuderia’ who finished with a strong one-two.


UEFA chief Ceferin calls on La Liga to stop criticism of PSG

UEFA chief Ceferin calls on La Liga to stop criticism of PSG
Updated 27 May 2022

UEFA chief Ceferin calls on La Liga to stop criticism of PSG

UEFA chief Ceferin calls on La Liga to stop criticism of PSG
  • Tebas hit out at Mbappe's decision to snub the Spanish champions
  • Ceferin said: "There are too many insults anyway in football, and I think that every league should worry about their own situation"

PARIS: UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin on Friday encouraged leagues to “worry about their own situation” in response to remarks by La Liga chief Javier Tebas after Paris Saint-Germain persuaded Kylian Mbappe to stay in France rather than join Real Madrid.
Tebas hit out at Mbappe’s decision to snub the Spanish champions and sign a new three-year deal in Paris, calling the contract “an insult to football.”
Speaking to AFP in an interview in Paris ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, Ceferin said: “I absolutely don’t agree. There are too many insults anyway in football, and I think that every league should worry about their own situation.”
“I don’t think it is right that one league criticizes the other league. As much as I know, the offer from Real for Mbappe was similar to PSG’s offer,” Ceferin added.
French league president Vincent Labrune responded to Tebas in a letter sent on Thursday and seen by AFP, in which he voiced “disapproval, and also our incomprehension” at the “attacks” against PSG and Ligue 1.
In Tebas’ tweet attacking Ligue 1 he said PSG were had paid “large sums of money” to hold onto Mbappe “after posting losses of 700 million euros in recent seasons and having a wage bill of over 600 million euros.”
PSG suffered a 224.3-million-euro ($240m) loss in 2020/21, an increase of 80 percent on the previous year, the annual report from French football’s financial authority (DNCG) said earlier this month.


Liverpool’s Thiago, Fabinho fit for Champions League final

Liverpool’s Thiago, Fabinho fit for Champions League final
Updated 27 May 2022

Liverpool’s Thiago, Fabinho fit for Champions League final

Liverpool’s Thiago, Fabinho fit for Champions League final
  • Thiago was brought off at half-time of Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Wolves last weekend nursing an Achilles problem
  • Fabinho has not featured since sustaining a muscular injury in a 2-1 win at Aston Villa on May 10

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool’s preparations for the Champions League final were boosted by the news that midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho will be fit to face Real Madrid after injury scares.
Thiago was brought off at half-time of Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Wolves last weekend nursing an Achilles problem.
Fabinho has not featured since sustaining a muscular injury in a 2-1 win at Aston Villa on May 10.
However, the Brazilian took a full part in an open training session in front of the media on Wednesday.
“Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho will be included in Liverpool’s traveling squad for the Champions League final against Real Madrid,” Liverpool said in a statement.
“The pair will be among the players journeying to Paris for Saturday’s clash at Stade de France following injury concerns and are set to come into contention to return.”
Both players have been pivotal to Liverpool’s stunning season that has already seen them lift two trophies in the League Cup and FA Cup.
Jurgen Klopp’s men missed out on the Premier League title by a single point as Manchester City needed a stirring comeback from 2-0 down against Villa on Sunday to claim a fourth championship in five seasons.
However, the Reds can make amends by lifting a seventh European Cup against the most successful club in the competition on Saturday.