Tug-of-war over: With Mbappe staying, PSG lay first brick in rebuild

Tug-of-war over: With Mbappe staying, PSG lay first brick in rebuild
Mbappe’s decision to reject Real Madrid and commit to PSG for three more seasons marks the start of a large rebuilding project at the French league champion. (AP)
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Updated 24 May 2022

Tug-of-war over: With Mbappe staying, PSG lay first brick in rebuild

Tug-of-war over: With Mbappe staying, PSG lay first brick in rebuild
  • In addition to the colossal sums of money reportedly promised to the 23-year-old forward — financial terms of Mbappe’s new deal have not been disclosed — the France star has received guarantees that things will change in a big way

PARIS: Kylian Mbappe’s decision to reject Real Madrid and commit to Paris Saint-Germain for three more seasons marks the start of a large rebuilding project at the French league champion.

Since Qatari investors took over in 2011, PSG have been a dominant force in France but have consistently failed to replicate that success on the European stage despite spending massive amounts on star players.

Club officials hope Mbappe’s decision to snub the Spanish giant will finally lead to the conquest of club soccer’s biggest trophy, the Champions League.

In addition to the colossal sums of money reportedly promised to the 23-year-old forward — financial terms of Mbappe’s new deal have not been disclosed — the France star has received guarantees that things will change in a big way, with a new coach and a new sporting director likely to be appointed.

“The project has changed,” Mbappe told a news conference on Monday. “The club wants to change a lot of things on the sports side, so it gives me this desire to continue. My story here is not over.”

New players will also join this summer to boost a project that will be centered around the World Cup-winning forward. PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said last week that Mbappe will become “the cornerstone of the club’s project for the years to come, both on and off the pitch,” but the striker is adamant he has not requested the full powers.

“I am a soccer player, well anchored in a collective,” Mbappe said. “Even if, of course, players have different status in a team. I remain a soccer player, and I will not go beyond this role.”

Sitting next to his star player, Al-Khelaifi did not give many details about PSG’s reorganization but acknowledged he promised to sign new players if Mbappe stayed.

“Because he really deserves it,” Al-Khelaifi said, adding that money was not crucial in convincing Mbappe to reject Madrid’s offer and extend his glitzy partnership with Neymar and Lionel Messi at Parc des Princes.

“The most important thing for Kylian was the sporting project,” he said, insisting that clubs in Spain were in a position to offer more money than PSG.

In an interview with media relayed by Le Parisien newspaper, Mbappe said he received some guidance from French President Emmanuel Macron.

“Let’s just say it was good advice,” Mbappe said. “He wanted me to stay, that’s part of the negotiations. He is one of the different people I talked to.”

The first collateral victim of Mbappe’s prolonged stay in the French capital has been sports director Leonardo. The former Brazil international, who returned to the club three years ago, was fired over the weekend following intense discussions.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, his departure was crucial in the negotiations with Mbappe, who pushed for an overhaul of the hierarchy following PSG’s exit in the last 16 of the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid in March.

Luis Campos has been tipped as a replacement for Leonardo. The Portuguese is a renowned talent scout with connections in Europe and South America and has been enjoying an excellent relationship with Mbappe and his family. Campos, who previously worked at Lille and Monaco, played an influential role when Mbappe signed his first professional deal with the Principality side in 2016.

One thing that won’t immediately change at PSG, though, is their habit of frequently changing coaches. Mauricio Pochettino, who sealed PSG’s record-equaling 10th league title but could not avoid another Champions league failure, is unsure about his future at the helm of the Parisian team amid reports in the French media that he will be replaced soon. Speculation over the potential appointment of Zinedine Zidane has been growing in recent days.

To strengthen their squad, PSG officials have also discussed with Mbappe the prospect of recruiting a versatile full back and new midfielders. L’Équipe reported on Monday that PSG made a priority of signing Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni, with Ousmane Dembele also targeted.

Mbappe joined PSG from Monaco in 2017 when he was still a teenager. He has 171 goals in just 217 appearances for PSG and won three consecutive player of the season awards, and topped the French scoring charts in each of the last four seasons.

Mbappe has often said that playing for Madrid was his childhood dream, and the Frenchman did not rule out making the move one day.

“I am really focused on this new contract. What will happen in the future, I don’t know,” he said.


NEOM subsidiary to power off-road racing series Extreme E with green hydrogen

NEOM subsidiary to power off-road racing series Extreme E with green hydrogen
Updated 12 sec ago

NEOM subsidiary to power off-road racing series Extreme E with green hydrogen

NEOM subsidiary to power off-road racing series Extreme E with green hydrogen

RIYADH: NEOM’s energy, water and hydrogen subsidiary ENOWA has partnered with Extreme E to introduce green hydrogen power to their global sustainable racing series. 

This development comes on the heels of the announcement that NEOM became the title partner of the McLaren Formula E and Extreme E racing teams under the banner of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing, according to a statement. 

NEOM has partnered with McLaren Racing to drive innovation and talent development in electric motorsport.

With the partnership, Extreme E and ENOWA aim to implement innovative green hydrogen-based technologies.

ENOWA will play a part on the scientific advisory board of Extreme E and together both parties will develop educational programs to young generations about climate positive solutions.

“Our partnership is aimed toward both creating visibility to the most urgent problems the planet is facing but at the same time demonstrating solutions that deliver meaningful impact,” ENOWA CEO said. 

“Together we can accelerate innovations in clean technologies powered by green hydrogen, contributing to hydrogen mobility markets and the future of global decarbonization,” Peter Terium added. 

At the Season 2 opener of Extreme E in NEOM in February 2022, the series revealed its plans to launch an off-road hydrogen Championship in 2024. 

Named Extreme H, the championship will sit alongside Extreme E, its existing electric racing series, and will be a world-first for motorsport. 

Development for the Extreme H vehicle is already underway, with the aim being the launch of a prototype in early 2023.


Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA

Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA
Updated 29 June 2022

Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA

Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA
  • About 1.8 million tickets sold so far
  • Tickets to go on sale online from July 5 until August 16

DOHA: The remaining tickets for this year’s World Cup in Qatar will be available on a first-come, first-served basis from next week, FIFA said on Wednesday.
About 1.8 million tickets were sold in the first two batches of sales, FIFA said, without saying how many are now available.
Qatar will host the first World Cup in the Middle East from November 21 to December 18 at eight stadiums in and around the capital, Doha.
The latest tickets will go on sale online from July 5 at 12pm Doha time (0900 GMT) until 12pm on August 16, FIFA said in a press release.
“Huge worldwide interest is anticipated in the new sales period,” the world body said.
Officials said three million tickets are available in total, including those allocated to sponsors.
Last week, the World Cup’s chief organizer Hassan Al-Thawadi said 1.2 million tickets had been sold so far.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said there were five million ticket requests just for the final at the 80,000-seat Lusail stadium.
Doha, with a population of about 2.4 million and limited accommodation, is bracing itself for a huge influx of visitors for the 32-team tournament.
Last month, Qatar announced scores of daily shuttle flights from neighboring Gulf countries, allowing fans to stay elsewhere and fly in to watch games.


World’s media hail Al-Hilal’s 18th Saudi Pro League title triumph

World’s media hail Al-Hilal’s 18th Saudi Pro League title triumph
Al-Hilal's Argentine coach Ramon Diaz (third from left) celebrates winning the Saudi Pro League title. (Arriyadiyah)
Updated 29 June 2022

World’s media hail Al-Hilal’s 18th Saudi Pro League title triumph

World’s media hail Al-Hilal’s 18th Saudi Pro League title triumph
  • Outlets in Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria and other international networks celebrate third consecutive trophy for the reigning Asian champions

The world’s media has hailed Al-Hilal’s record-extending 18th Saudi Pro League title after Ramon Diaz’s team defeated Al-Faisaly 2-1 at King Fahd International Stadium on Monday night.

The victory secured a third consecutive domestic title for the reigning Asian champions, finishing two points clear of long-time league leaders Al-Ittihad.

Argentina’s El Grafico highlighted the achievement of compatriot Diaz and several other South American players in Al-Hilal’s ranks, including Matheus Pereira (Brazil), Gustavo Cuellar (Colombia) and Andre Carrillo (Peru). Also, ESPN’s Spanish-language Twitter account posted a photo of the champions with the caption “It’s Ramon’s team.”

Nigerian outlet Sports Brief meanwhile celebrated the role of forward Odion Ighalo who’s double confirmed the title on Monday, and who also bagged the SPL’s Golden Boot for top scorer with 24 goals this season.

Brazilian network TNT congratulated former Flamengo forward Michael Delgado for his contribution to the championship win, while online website Soccernet ran with the headline “Ex-Manchester United star Ighalo leads Al-Hilal to league triumph.”


Morocco crowned 2022 Arab Futsal Cup champions in Dammam

Morocco crowned 2022 Arab Futsal Cup champions in Dammam
Morocco are the 2022 Arab Futsal Cup champions. (SAFF)
Updated 29 June 2022

Morocco crowned 2022 Arab Futsal Cup champions in Dammam

Morocco crowned 2022 Arab Futsal Cup champions in Dammam
  • A 3-0 win over Iraq sees team retain the title they won in Cairo last year

DUBAI: Morocco are the 2022 Arab Futsal Cup champions after defeating Iraq 3-0 in the final at the Green Hall in Dammam on Tuesday evening.

The 10-team tournament, organized by the Union of Arab Football Associations and hosted by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, kicked off on June 20, and is the sixth edition of the competition.

The triumph sees Morocco retain the trophy they won last year in Cairo, and means they are now two-time champions, a record shared with Egypt and Libya.

Badr bin Abdulrahman Al-Qadi, Saudi deputy minister of sports, presented the victorious North African team with their medal, and Anis Al-Ayan, with the man of the match award.

The award for the best player of the tournament went to Morocco’s Sufian Al-Masrar, and top goalscorer award to Kuwait’s Abdulrahman Al-Taweel.

Iraq’s Zaher Hadi was named the tournament’s best goalkeeper, with the Egyptian team receiving the event’s fair play award.


Gamers8 and Spotify team up for Saudi Arabia’s first live international esports season

Gamers8 and Spotify team up for Saudi Arabia’s first live international esports season
Updated 29 June 2022

Gamers8 and Spotify team up for Saudi Arabia’s first live international esports season

Gamers8 and Spotify team up for Saudi Arabia’s first live international esports season
  • The world’s most popular audio streaming platform will be exclusive partner for the $15m event
  • Highly anticipated anthem by DJ and producer R3HAB, featuring Kingdom’s pop artist Meteb Alshalan, set for release

RIYADH: Gamers8 have unveiled an exclusive partnership with streaming giant Spotify, who will become the official audio streaming partner for the all-new major esports and gaming season taking place live in Riyadh this summer.

Spotify boasts a community of more than 422 million monthly active listeners, including 182 million subscribers, across 183 markets. Under this partnership, gamers and their fans can enjoy specially curated audio inspired by the esports community.

Gamers8, from the creators of Gamers Without Borders, will be held in the Saudi capital from July 14 to Sept. 8, with a total prize pool of $15 million.

Omar Batterjee, head of marketing, communications, and partnerships at the Saudi Esports Federation, said: “Music and audio are an essential part of esports. We are thrilled to partner with Spotify to provide our fans with a one-stop destination where they can enjoy the ultimate curated content and iconic experiences. Together with Spotify, we can collectively combine esports, technology, entertainment, and music to inspire the gaming community, as well as the next generation of gamers and fans.”

Gamers8 will have an official co-curated playlist by Spotify’s music team as well as lists by gaming professionals and celebrities. In addition, Spotify and Gamers8 will create and launch a podcast dedicated to the season in partnership with Rising Giants Network. The eight-episode series will be the go-to place for gaming enthusiasts to hear about the top players through game highlights and one-on-one interviews.

The partnership will also see the release of the highly anticipated Gamers8 anthem produced by DJ and producer R3HAB, featuring Saudi pop artist Meteb Alshalan.

Commenting on the partnership, Nicole Aoun, Spotify’s marketing and partnership lead in Saudi Arabia, said: “While at Spotify, we continue to be laser-focused on growing the creators’ community, we are equally as passionate about creating memorable experiences for the Saudi youth, demonstrating our commitment to the local community.

“The Saudi Esports Federation shares our vision of providing world-class entertainment for the gaming community, and we are thrilled to embark on this journey together, making Saudi gamers and fans connect meaningfully through music and podcasts.”