Messi stars as Argentina beat Italy in Finalissima

Messi stars as Argentina beat Italy in Finalissima
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Argentina's striker Lionel Messi lifts the trophy as Argentina's players celebrate on the pitch after their victory in the 'Finalissima' football match against Italy at Wembley Stadium in London on June 1, 2022. (AFP)
Messi stars as Argentina beat Italy in Finalissima
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Argentina's players celebrate on the pitch after their victory in the 'Finalissima' against Italy at Wembley Stadium in London on June 1, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 02 June 2022

Messi stars as Argentina beat Italy in Finalissima

Messi stars as Argentina beat Italy in Finalissima

LONDON: Lionel Messi stole the show as Copa America holders Argentina powered to a 3-0 win against European champions Italy in the Finalissima at Wembley on Wednesday.
Inspired by the peerless Messi, Argentina raced into a two-goal lead in the first half of the prestigious friendly thanks to strikes from Lautaro Martinez and Angel Di Maria.
Paulo Dybala capped Argentina’s rout, but after a disappointing season with Paris Saint-Germain by his sky-high standards, it was the sight of Messi back to his imperious best that took the spotlight.
The 34-year-old’s eye-catching display featured two assists and was worthy of his rare appearance at one of football’s great cathedrals.
It was another memorable moment for Argentina, who have qualified for this year’s World Cup as they extend the golden afterglow from the victory over Brazil that ended their 28-year wait to win the Copa America in 2021.
Argentina were already established as one of the leading contenders to win the World Cup and defeating Italy was another statement of intent from La Albiceleste, who are now unbeaten in 32 matches.
If Messi can play at this level in Qatar, Lionel Scaloni’s side will be a force to be reckoned with as they chase a first World Cup title since 1986.




Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after the awarding ceremony of the Finalissima soccer match against Italy at Wembley Stadium in London, Wednesday, June 1, 2022. (AP)


For Italy, it was a disappointing return to Wembley 11 months after they beat England on penalties in the Euro 2020 final.
Roberto Mancini’s team have gone into a steep decline since that memorable triumph.
They failed to qualify for the World Cup after suffering a humiliating loss to North Macedonia in their play-off semifinal.
Mancini admitted the Finalissima represented the “end of a cycle” for his European champions.
After the World Cup failure, Mancini is transitioning to a younger generation, with the forthcoming Nations League matches against Germany, England and Hungary his real focus.
Mancini’s overhaul effectively started at half-time when Italy said farewell to 117-cap skipper Giorgio Chiellini, who was substituted in his final game before international retirement.

This was only the third Finalissima contest between the respective champions of Europe and South America and the first since Diego Maradona’s Argentina beat Denmark in 1993.
Fittingly, Messi — the heir to the legendary Maradona — used the occasion to remind the world of his astonishing talents.
The 80,000 sell-out crowd created a colorful backdrop for Messi’s mastery, with Argentina’s raucous fans turning the north London suburb of Brent into Buenos Aires for one ear-splitting evening.
Every touch from Messi lifted the decibel levels and moments after his shot was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, the forward played a key role as Argentina took the lead in the 28th minute.
Messi worked his magic on the touchline, showing tremendous strength to hold off Giovanni Di Lorenzo before unfurling a precise low cross to Martinez, who applied the finishing touch from close-range.
Italy argued that the goal should have been disallowed for a foul in the build-up, but their protests were in vain.
With tempers still running high, Leonardo Bonucci was booked after leaving Messi writhing in pain with a flailing arm that caught him in the face.




Argentina’s Angel Di Maria celebrates scoring their second goal against Italy at Wembley Stadium in London on June 1, 2022. (Reuters)


Di Maria exacted revenge on Messi’s behalf in first half stoppage-time.
Martinez drove forward with bullish tenacity and slipped a perfectly weighted pass to Di Maria, with the PSG forward producing a finish to match the approach play as he clipped a cool finish over Donnarumma.
Di Maria almost struck again on the hour, but his curler was brilliantly tipped over by Donnarumma as it fizzed toward the far corner.
Messi robbed Jorginho and embarked on a mesmerising run that finished with a save from Donnarumma.
Messi’s name echoed around the stands as Argentina’s fans paid tribute to their idol’s latest masterpiece.
Dybala’s clinical strike in stoppage-time came via a deft Messi pass as the maestro provided one final flourish.


Brazil soccer body rejects World Cup qualifier against Argentina

Brazil soccer body rejects World Cup qualifier against Argentina
Updated 11 August 2022

Brazil soccer body rejects World Cup qualifier against Argentina

Brazil soccer body rejects World Cup qualifier against Argentina
  • Brazil coach Tite does not want to play the match due to risks of injuries, suspensions and a potential boycott by the Argentinians, according to Brazilian confederation president Ednaldo Rodrigues

SAO PAULO: Brazil insisted that they won’t play the suspended World Cup qualifying match against Argentina next month, arguing Wednesday that the risks are too high ahead of the tournament in Qatar.

The qualifier nearly one year ago in Sao Paulo was stopped by local health officials after six minutes due to COVID-19 protocols regarding four Argentinian players.

FIFA fined the soccer bodies of both countries and demanded the match be played. Brazil’s confederation and Argentina’s federation took the case to the Court for Arbitration of Sport, which is expected to rule later in August. The game would be in September but FIFA has not set a date.

Brazil coach Tite does not want to play the match due to risks of injuries, suspensions and a potential boycott by the Argentinians, according to Brazilian confederation president Ednaldo Rodrigues.

Brazilian media has reported the Selecao would rather play two friendlies in Europe.

“We will reach out to FIFA so this match is not played. I will make every effort to answer to the request of our coaching staff,” Rodrigues said in a statement. “Our priority is to win the World Cup in Qatar. If that match is not recommended by the coaching staff of the Selecao, we will work for it not to be played.”

Brazil and Argentina qualified regardless of that suspended encounter’s result.

In Qatar, Brazil are in Group G with Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon. Argentina are in Group C with Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia.


Trial on Kobe Bryant death crash photos begins in US

Trial on Kobe Bryant death crash photos begins in US
Updated 11 August 2022

Trial on Kobe Bryant death crash photos begins in US

Trial on Kobe Bryant death crash photos begins in US
  • Vanessa Bryant alleges she suffered emotional distress because personnel from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and firefighters snapped pictures of the scene, which they later shared with friends and first responders

LOS ANGELES: A court case brought by Kobe Bryant’s widow over graphic photographs taken by first responders at the site of the helicopter crash that killed him got under way in the US on Wednesday.

The basketball superstar and his teenage daughter were among nine people who died when their chopper smashed into a hillside near Los Angeles in January 2020.

Vanessa Bryant alleges she suffered emotional distress because personnel from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and firefighters snapped pictures of the scene, which they later shared with friends and first responders.

“At least 11 (sheriff’s) personnel and a dozen firefighters shared the photos within 24 hours of the crash,” Bryant’s attorneys wrote in court papers.

“In the following weeks, one (sheriff’s) deputy flaunted photos of remains at a bar, another texted photos to a group of video game buddies, and (county fire) personnel displayed photos at an awards gala.”

Lawyers for Los Angeles County do not dispute that the photos were taken, but insist they have never been made public and have now been deleted.

Mira Hashmall, representing the county in the civil litigation, said the case hinged on this issue of public dissemination.

“From the time of the crash to now, the county has worked tirelessly to prevent its crash site photos from getting into the public domain,” she said.

“Over two and a half years later, no county photos have appeared in the media, none can be found online, and the plaintiffs admit they’ve never seen them.”

Vanessa Bryant’s case has been combined with a similar case brought by Chris Chester, whose wife and 13-year-old daughter also died in the crash.

A jury of six women and four men were selected Wednesday, CNN reported.

Relatives of several other victims were last year granted $2.5 million in compensation over the photo-taking.

An investigation into the crash found the pilot had probably become disorientated after flying the Sikorsky S-76 into fog.

Bryant is widely recognized as one of the greatest basketball players ever, a figure who became the face of his sport during a glittering two decades with the Los Angeles Lakers.

He was a five-time NBA champion in a career that began in 1996 straight out of high school and lasted until his retirement in 2016, after which he began building a lucrative business portfolio.

He was also a two-time Olympic gold medalist, helping the US squad of NBA stars to titles in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London.


Real Madrid beats Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 for UEFA Super Cup

Real Madrid beats Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 for UEFA Super Cup
Updated 11 August 2022

Real Madrid beats Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 for UEFA Super Cup

Real Madrid beats Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 for UEFA Super Cup

HELSINKI: This time, there were only two goals.
David Alaba and Karim Benzema scored in each half for Real Madrid to win the UEFA Super Cup with a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday.
Alaba prodded the opener home from close range in the 37th minute when Casemiro cushioned Benzema’s header back after a corner. The French star then sealed Madrid’s record-equaling fifth Super Cup title in the 65th thanks to an assist from the lively Vinícius Júnior.
It was Benzema’s 324th goal for Madrid, overtaking club legend Raúl. Only Cristiano Ronaldo has more after scoring 450 goals for the club between 2009-18.
But the game between the Champions League winners, Madrid, and Europa League champions, Frankfurt, failed to match the spectacle of their previous meeting.
Their only other competitive game was the 1960 European Cup final, when Alfredo Di Stéfano scored three goals and Ferenc Puskás chipped in with four to give Madrid a 7-3 win and fifth consecutive European crown.
Frankfurt goal-scorer Erwin Stein and teammate Dieter Stinka were in Helsinki for the rematch 62 years later, but it was the 93-year-old José Santamaria — the only remaining Madrid player from that final in Glasgow — who celebrated another win. The three veterans embraced warmly when they met before kickoff.


Cricket federation to establish four regional associations across Saudi Arabia

Cricket federation to establish four regional associations across Saudi Arabia
Updated 10 August 2022

Cricket federation to establish four regional associations across Saudi Arabia

Cricket federation to establish four regional associations across Saudi Arabia
  • New centers will be in Jouf, Hail, Al-Hudud Ash Shamaliyah and Al-Baha

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation is set to establish four new regional associations to help promote the sport across the Kingdom.

The federation told Arab News on Wednesday that is has 15 official associations representing the sport in nine regions, but aims to establish new associations in the remaining four regions “to make sure that we have future cricket activities all around the Kingdom.”

The long-term aim is for Saudi Arabian cricket teams to compete professionally at regional and international competitions, with the national teams taking on world’s best.

In recent years, the SACF has introduced several competitions and programs to encourage the country’s youth to take up one of the world’s oldest and most popular sports.

In October 2021, it signed an agreement with sports management company JSW Sports to develop cricket in Saudi Arabia, focusing on high-performance academies.

The SACF was established in 2020 and lined up a series of major initiatives the following year, including a national cricket championship, a corporate cricket tournament, a cricket league for expatriate workers, and a social program in several cities.

The initiatives are part of a mission to promote healthy and active lifestyles under the Saudi Vision 2030’s Quality of Life scheme, with the SACF — supported by the Ministry of Sports and Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee — mandated to increase physical activity levels by 40 percent over the next decade.

In November, the SACF partnered with Saudi’s Sports For All Federation to launch the Kingdom’s first cricket talent-spotting program.


FIFA looks to start World Cup in Qatar 1 day earlier

FIFA looks to start World Cup in Qatar 1 day earlier
Updated 10 August 2022

FIFA looks to start World Cup in Qatar 1 day earlier

FIFA looks to start World Cup in Qatar 1 day earlier
  • FIFA is looking at a plan to let the host nation play Ecuador on Nov. 20
  • The World Cup is set to open on Nov. 21 with the Netherlands facing Senegal

GENEVA: Host nation Qatar is set to play in the opening game of its own World Cup tournament after all — and on a stand-alone day being added to the schedule barely 100 days before kickoff.
Soccer’s marquee tournament is now set start one day earlier than originally scheduled seven years ago in a move that would allow Qatar to play Ecuador on Nov. 20, a person familiar with the proposal told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the matter.
The proposal will be put before a committee comprised of FIFA president Gianni Infantino and the heads of the six continental soccer bodies, the person said. A decision is expected this week.
According to a letter sent by FIFA this week and seen by the AP, the governing body is asking for approval from the continental soccer bodies by Thursday.
Qatar should now get an exclusive Sunday slot for its opening ceremony and World Cup debut at the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium.
The World Cup is currently scheduled to start on Nov. 21, a Monday, based on a FIFA decision in 2015 after it agreed to push back the tournament to avoid the extreme desert heat in June and July. FIFA also got agreement for a shorter, 28-day program to minimize disruption to domestic soccer, especially in Europe, which will shut down ahead of the World Cup.
Recent World Cup tradition gave 2014 host Brazil and 2018 host Russia exclusive opening days to play their first opponents. But the tighter schedule in Qatar called for four games daily for the entire group stage — 48 games in 12 days.
At the tournament draw in Doha on April 1, the Netherlands, Senegal and Ecuador landed in Group A with Qatar. The Dutch and Senegal were allocated the 1 p.m. local time start and Qatar was to play Ecuador in the third game with an evening kickoff six hours later.
The proposal to create a 29-day tournament instead of 28 has been favored by Qatari officials and South American soccer body CONMEBOL, with talks also involving the Qatar and Ecuador soccer federations, the person told the AP.
FIFA acknowledged in its letter that changing the date, after tickets have been sold, would affect some traveling fans. However, FIFA said “any risk is sufficiently outweighed by the value and benefits of the proposal” commercially.
A Qatar-Ecuador game involves only a few players who are with European clubs. Several on the likely Ecuador roster play for clubs in Spain, the United States and Mexico, where leagues stop play ahead of the Nov. 12-13 weekend.
The schedule switch would have been tougher to agree to if Qatar was scheduled to open against the Netherlands, which has key members playing until Nov. 13 with clubs in England and Italy.
Because of the proposal, FIFA is expected to push back the Netherlands-Senegal from the lunchtime start to the early evening slot that would be vacated by Qatar.
While an opening game on a Sunday evening in Qatar should play well with viewers in Asia and Europe, in the United States it puts the World Cup in direct competition with NFL games. The US soccer team plays its World Cup opener against Wales as the late Monday game in Qatar.
The 2022 World Cup is the first in the tournament’s 92-year history to be played outside of the traditional northern hemisphere summer. The previous 21 editions were all played between late-May and the end of July.
The Nov. 21-Dec. 18 tournament schedule was agreed to so European clubs could play on the Nov. 12-13 weekend before releasing their players to the 32 World Cup teams. Changing opening day should not alter the tournament rule that players must report from their clubs to national teams no later than Nov. 14, FIFA said in its letter.
The final will be played on Qatar’s National Day, a Sunday, allowing a full week for players to return to clubs before the Premier League plays its traditional Boxing Day games on Dec. 26.
Qatar original bid was made to host the tournament in June-July, promising innovative stadium cooling technology to overcome heat expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) during the first World Cup held in the Middle East.
In December 2010, Qatar won a controversial bid contest beating the United States 14-8 in a final round of voting by the FIFA executive committee, a group later widely discredited by corruption scandals.
More than four years later, FIFA moved the tournament to be played on dates when temperatures should be around 25 to 30 degrees C (77 to 86 degrees F).
Now, a further seven years later, the dates are set to change again.