UEFA apologizes to fans over Champions League final chaos

UEFA apologizes to fans over Champions League final chaos
A fan looks through a fence while fans were stopped by police officers at the turnstiles inside the stadium as the match was delayed on Saturday. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 June 2022

UEFA apologizes to fans over Champions League final chaos

UEFA apologizes to fans over Champions League final chaos
  • Thousands of supporters were unable to access European club football's showpiece match despite having genuine tickets
  • "No football fan should be put in that situation, and it must not happen again," European football's governing body said

LAUSANNE: UEFA apologized to spectators for the first time on Friday for their “frightening and distressing” experience ahead of the Champions League final, saying no football fan should go through such mayhem.
Thousands of supporters were unable to access European club football’s showpiece match despite having genuine tickets, in chaotic scenes that saw the French police use tear gas at close range even against children.
“UEFA wishes to sincerely apologize to all spectators who had to experience or witness frightening and distressing events in the build-up to the UEFA Champions League final at the Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris, on a night which should have been a celebration of European club football.
“No football fan should be put in that situation, and it must not happen again,” European football’s governing body said in a statement.
Spanish giants Real Madrid beat England’s Liverpool 1-0, but the match was completely overshadowed by the chaos outside the stadium.
Before the game, thousands of Liverpool fans with tickets had to wait for hours to enter the ground, with police using tear gas and pepper spray on the crowds.
Some Liverpool supporters said they feared being crushed after small openings were used to filter the queues.
Many fans from both sides also reported being assaulted and robbed outside the stadium after the match.
The chaos sparked anger in Britain, political uproar in France a fortnight ahead of legislative elections, and raised questions about the French capital’s capability to host the Olympics in 2024.
UEFA has commissioned an independent review led by Portugal’s former government minister Tiago Brandao Rodrigues and aimed at finding the responsibilities and shortcomings of those involved in organizing the final.
“UEFA wishes — and needs — to understand what happened during the course of the day of the final, and determine lessons learnt to ensure there is no repeat of the actions and events of that day,” it said in a statement.
“The review will seek to establish a full picture and timeline of what occurred during the day, both within the stadium and the surrounding areas, including examining spectator flows to the stadium via the various access points,” it said as it published the terms of reference.
The review will go through the security, ticketing and planning for the final and will also look at fan meeting points.
It will engage with UEFA, fan groups, Liverpool and Real Madrid, the French Football Federation (FFF), the police, the stadium operator and other public authorities.
“Further information on how relevant parties can submit their testimonies (via a dedicated email address or an online questionnaire) will be communicated shortly,” UEFA said.
The review will start immediately and be completed in the “shortest possible time-frame” and then set out its findings, conclusions and recommendations.
Once completed, it will be published on UEFA’s website.
France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has faced accusations of lying after he blamed the chaos on massive ticket fraud, and has since admitted that the organization around the final could “clearly” have been better.
The Champions League final kicked off 36 minutes late due to the problems outside.
The review is so far “the only investigation linked to the fans,” Football Supporters Europe executive director Ronan Evain told AFP.
If UEFA’s communications “were not ideal on Saturday... the main thing is that it is there, and putting the pressure on” Darmanin, the FFF and the Paris police, “so they recognize that the supporters were victims of what happened,” Evain added.


Tight fight for Extreme E title as X44 Vida Carbon Racing claim first win of season 2

Tight fight for Extreme E title as X44 Vida Carbon Racing claim first win of season 2
Updated 26 September 2022

Tight fight for Extreme E title as X44 Vida Carbon Racing claim first win of season 2

Tight fight for Extreme E title as X44 Vida Carbon Racing claim first win of season 2
  • Penalties for winners NEOM McLaren dropped the team down the standings

The X44 Vida Carbon Racing team claimed their first victory of the Extreme E season in a dramatic first Copper X Prix Final in Chile at the weekend.

Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez finished second but were handed a vital win after penalties for winners NEOM McLaren Extreme E dropped them down the standings.

A dramatic twist saw No. 99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing enter the final as first reserve, after technical issues robbed championship leaders Rosberg X Racing a shot at securing the title this weekend.

The American team had finished the race in third, but in pushing hard to make the most of the opportunity, they received a penalty for missing a waypoint, which subsequently put No. 99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing off the podium and into fourth.

Following those penalties for NEOM McLaren Extreme E and No. 99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing, ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team took second place and ABT CUPRA XE secured their first podium of the second season with third.

The victorious Loeb said: “We are very happy with the result today, of course. We were surprised to see that Rosberg X Racing weren’t competing in the final, but we didn’t have a lot of time to think about it as we were racing straight away.

“It was a very strong fight against some great teams but Cristina was incredible, securing the fastest lap of all the drivers in the final.”

Loeb’s teammate Gutiérrez said: “Today was amazing, we are so happy to have won the Copper X Prix and to still be in the fight for the championship. Rosberg X Racing are a really strong team so for them to not be able to drive in the final was not good for them, but hopefully it is more interesting to have more than one team fighting for the championship in Uruguay.

“It was a very tough race so I was surprised to get the fastest lap, but it shows what an incredible opportunity Extreme E is providing for female drivers to prove ourselves and show we can compete against some of the best drivers in the world. Now we go to Uruguay, which is very good for me as I love to race in South America. Hopefully we can even get another race win and maybe the championship too.”

Meanwhile Carlos Sainz Snr. of ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team, said: “It was a very exciting weekend and now we need to look to Uruguay and make sure we do a good final race.

“Even though we made it to the final it was not easy from where we were. We have been consistent and have been improving, and in life you have to keep improving, although it’s difficult at my age.”

Race Results:

1. X44 Vida Carbon Racing 8:59:728

2. ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team +6.093

3. ABT CUPRA XE +8.612

4. No. 99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing +10.159 (penalized)

5. NEOM McLaren Extreme E +18.935 (penalized)

Championship Points Standings:

1. Rosberg X Racing: 83

2. X44 Vida Carbon Racing: 66

3. ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team: 60

4. No. 99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing: 55

5. NEOM McLaren Extreme E: 34

6. Genesys Andretti United Extreme E: 33

7. XITE ENERGY RACING: 29

8. JBXE: 25

9. ABT CUPRA XE: 21

10. Veloce Racing: 8


Double podium for Team Abu Dhabi as Shaun Torrente edges to 3rd world title

Double podium for Team Abu Dhabi as Shaun Torrente edges to 3rd world title
Updated 26 September 2022

Double podium for Team Abu Dhabi as Shaun Torrente edges to 3rd world title

Double podium for Team Abu Dhabi as Shaun Torrente edges to 3rd world title
  • American finished third in Grand Prix of Italy, with Emirati teammate Thani Al-Qemzi in second behind Dutch rookie Ferdinand Zandbergen of Sharjah Team

SAN NAZZARO: Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente took another step toward a third UIM F1H2O World Championship crown as Sharjah Team’s Ferdinand Zandbergen recorded a memorable victory in the Grand Prix of Italy at the weekend.

Torrente’s third place just adrift of teammate Thani Al-Qemzi in San Nazzaro means he now holds a 17-point championship lead over the Emirati, with two deciding rounds to follow in Sharjah in December

For the second time in 24 hours, the technically demanding Po River circuit produced a string of casualties, with only eight of the 12 starters completing the 40-lap race.

After his convincing victory in Saturday’s Grand Prix of Regione Emilia Romagna, Torrente had to call on all his experience to grab a podium place after failing by one position to reach the six-boat qualifying shoot-out earlier in the day.

Zandbergen, in his F1H2O rookie season, took his first pole position in impressive style, and went on to produce another composed performance to score his maiden Grand Prix win.

Al-Qemzi’s second place means the veteran Emirati driver still retains hope of a first individual drivers’ title, while his partnership with Torrente already looks like delivering a fifth consecutive team championship to Abu Dhabi.

Sweden’s defending champion Jonas Andersson, meanwhile, kept his hopes alive with fourth place as a pulsating Grand Prix double-header reached its conclusion.

He now trails Torrente by 21 points in third place, however, with the impressive Zandbergen climbing to fourth to underline his challenge.

Fresh from his superb win on Saturday, Torrente had earlier maintained his momentum by winning today’s first qualifying round, with Al-Qemzi clocking the sixth fastest lap.

After his crash 24 hours earlier following a mechanical exit while leading the season opener in France, Sharjah Team’s Sami Selio looked to have put all that behind him as he initially set the best time in Q2.

But the Finnish driver made a spectacular exit as his boat suddenly lifted off the water and flipped 360 degrees. He was unhurt, but ruled out of the Grand Prix, although his consolation was in using the radio to guide teammate Zandbergen to success.

Portugal’s Duarte Benavente and Norway’s Marit Stromoy were also non-starters after yesterday’s mishaps, while Frenchman Peter Morin, Finns Alec Weckstrom and Kalle Viippo and Poland’s Bartek Marszalek failed to reach the finish.

The World Championship points positions (provisional):

 

1. Shaun Torrente (US) 52

 

2. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) 35

 

3. Jonas Andersson (Sweden) 31

 

4. Ferdinand Zandbergen (Netherlands) 27

 

5. Peter Morin (France) 21

 

6. Alec Weckstrom (Finland) 21


Spieth goes 5-0 as Americans rule Presidents Cup again

Spieth goes 5-0 as Americans rule Presidents Cup again
Updated 26 September 2022

Spieth goes 5-0 as Americans rule Presidents Cup again

Spieth goes 5-0 as Americans rule Presidents Cup again
  • The International team lost at least four players who defected to Saudi-funded LIV Golf and were deemed ineligible by the PGA Tour

CHARLOTTE, US: The Americans won the Presidents Cup again, no asterisk needed.
Sure, the International team lost at least four players — maybe more — who defected to Saudi-funded LIV Golf and were deemed ineligible by the PGA Tour.
It had eight rookies asked to play a new format before 40,000 flag-waving fans chanting for the home team. And the Internationals have never won on American soil since these lopsided matches began in 1994.
No matter.
The Americans are tough to beat right now in any cup, under any circumstances. 
Jordan Spieth made putts from all over Quail Hollow and capped off a 5-0 week, Xander Schauffele delivering the cup-clinching point and lit up his big cigar, and the Americans won the Presidents Cup for the ninth straight time.
Anyone surprised?
“I think that the biggest challenge for us this week was staying within ourselves and not letting the outside noise get to us,” Spieth said. “We saw notes ... put up all over the place that we were supposed to win and we’re favorites and all that.
“What was so cool — which has been very consistent in the previous few Cups that I’ve been involved in — is everyone’s really, really good at what they do.”
The plucky International team still made them work for it.
Spieth and Patrick Cantlay were in control of their matches and set the tone. Even so, the Internationals kept it interesting, a resilient effort considering they were down 8-2 going into the weekend.
But then Tony Finau flipped his match, Collin Morikawa played like a two-time major champion, Schauffele delivered the winner and another celebration was on.
International captain Trevor Immelman referred to the LIV disruption as one of many hurdles facing his team. And he reacted strongly to any notion his 12 players — only three of them among the top 25 in the world — never had a chance.
“When you consider that we were 8-2 down on Friday evening, this team is no joke, and I’m sick and tired of it being spoken of as a joke,” Immelman said. “We love this event, and we love our team. And we cannot wait to run this back and have another shot.”
The Internationals showed plenty of fight. They just don’t have a cup to show for it.
That stays squarely in the hands of an American team that was coming off a record romp over Europe in the Ryder Cup last year before another one-sided crowd.
Even the American newcomers produced, starting with Max Homa. He rallied from 3 down by winning four straight holes and then holding off Tom Kim for a 1-up victory that gave Homa a 4-0 week in his Presidents Cup debut.
The final score was 17 1/2-12 1/2, not quite the rout it was at Liberty National in 2017 when this US team started to take shape.
US Captain Davis Love III paid tribute to Immelman for having to fill out his team three weeks ago after British Open champion Cameron Smith and Joaquin Niemann were among the latest batch to join the rival LIV Golf series.
This was a mismatch. The Internationals still made a game of it, and at one point the matches were tight enough that a shocker at Quail Hollow was still possible. But they needed everything to go right, and it didn’t.
“Trevor and his team did an incredible job of rising to the occasion,” Love said.
Love had all 12 players ranked among the top 25 in the world ranking, and just like last year at Whistling Straits in the Presidents Cup, most of them played like it.
“We really don’t have to do much,” Love said. “All we have to do is not mess it up.”
Spieth was in the second match out and made putts from 25 feet, 20 feet and 30 feet for par after driving into the water and 45 feet that made Cameron Davis feel hopeless. He closed out the Australian on the 15th hole.
Spieth became only the sixth player to win all five matches in the Presidents Cup, winning all four of his team matches with Justin Thomas.
Spieth, a three-time major champion and former No. 1 player in the world, first qualified for US teams when he was 20. But he had never won a singles match — 0-3 in the Presidents Cup, 0-3-1 in the Ryder Cup.
And then he fell 2 down after two holes before turning it around in a big way.
“I was more nervous than I should have been because I wanted to get that monkey off my back,” Spieth said. “When you get off early on a Sunday, they’re looking for red on the board. And it feels good to provide it.”
Thomas was trying to join him, but he lost to Si Woo Kim in a match that came down to 10-foot birdie putts on the last hole.
Cantlay put red American numbers on the board quickly for a 3-up lead over Adam Scott and had lost only two holes in a 3-and-2 victory.
For Scott, it was another dose of disappointment. His first Presidents Cup was in 2003 in South Africa that ended in a tie. He has played on every team since then, all losses.
Still, he saw enough out of a scrappy team and the shield on their shirts with which they are starting to identify to not lose all hope.
“It still hurts not to win,” he said. “I think the big difference I felt the last couple years is what’s going on in our team room, what’s going on between the captains and the players, the caddies, everybody involved on our team. I think good things are really starting to happen in that environment.
“A cup is coming our way soon.”


Kuol makes debut as Australia win final World Cup warmup

Kuol makes debut as Australia win final World Cup warmup
Updated 25 September 2022

Kuol makes debut as Australia win final World Cup warmup

Kuol makes debut as Australia win final World Cup warmup

AUCKLAND: Teenager Garang Kuol, who is being chased by Newcastle United, made his international debut on Sunday in Australia’s 2-0 away win over New Zealand in their final World Cup warmup.

A Mitchell Duke header and Jason Cummings’ penalty in the second half at Auckland’s Eden Park ensured Australia head to the World Cup with two straight wins over their neighbors.

Attacker Kuol, who only turned 18 in mid-September, plays for the Central Coast Mariners but is reportedly set to sign for Premier League side Newcastle United in January.

The fleet-footed teenager came on with 20 minutes left and made his case for a spot in the squad for Qatar when he prised open the New Zealand defense in the buildup to Cummings’ penalty.

“He’s a kid, he’s just turned 18. I told just to go out and enjoy himself,” said Australia coach Graham Arnold.

“I just wanted to give him the experience.

“He showed some quality when he came on, but this is just the first step for him.”

This was Australia’s last game before their opening World Cup match against reigning champions France in a Group D also containing Tunisia and Denmark.

“Overall it was a good performance, but we know the boys can do better,” added Arnold, who changed his entire starting lineup from the side which beat New Zealand 1-0 in Brisbane last Thursday.

“The first half was scrappy, but for the second half the boys really came through.”

New Zealand missed out on a place at the Qatar finals after losing a playoff to Costa Rica.

Australia initially labored against a New Zealand side fired up in front of a crowd of 34,985 watching their first men’s home international for five years.

The Eden Park surface was in impressive condition apart from the odd divot less than 24 hours after hosting a rugby Test match between New Zealand and Australia. Burly New Zealand striker Chris Wood had an early chance, but the Newcastle man was forced off after 30 minutes following a heavy challenge.

Australia squandered the best chance of a goalless first half when Duke drew New Zealand keeper Oli Sail, but Marco Tilio fluffed his shot at an open goal from six yards out. Australia raised the tempo after the break and broke the deadlock early in the second half when Connor Metcalfe floated in a cross from the left and Duke sent his header past Sail.

The visitors doubled their lead when Kuol broke down the left and squared into the middle, where Cummings’ shot was eventually blocked by a New Zealand hand. Scotland-born Cummings stepped up to drill home the penalty and seal Australia’s morale-boosting win.

It was a sad end to the international career of New Zealand captain and former West Ham defender Winston Reid, who retired after the game.

The home skipper came off with 16 minutes left to a standing ovation. “We would have liked to have done better, but it was really nice to play my last game at home,” said Reid.


Russia’s Alexandrova shines in Seoul for third title

Russia’s Alexandrova shines in Seoul for third title
Updated 25 September 2022

Russia’s Alexandrova shines in Seoul for third title

Russia’s Alexandrova shines in Seoul for third title

SEOUL: Ekaterina Alexandrova overcame nerves to win the third title of her career as she dismantled injury-hampered top seed Jelena Ostapenko 7-6 (7/4), 6-0 in the final of the Korea Open on Sunday.

The two battled to a lengthy tiebreaker after an evenly matched hour-long first set in front of more than 10,000 spectators, a record for the Seoul event.

But everything changed in the second set as Russia’s second-seeded Alexandrova dominated the former French Open champion from Latvia, who required a medical timeout at 3-0 down for a foot problem.

“I think it was tough for me to start because I was really nervous and I couldn’t find the rhythm in the first couple of games,” said Alexandrova, 27.

“But the longer we played, the better I felt on the court.

“I think maybe somewhere in the end of the first set I finally found the rhythm and I just continued to keep it that way in the second set.”

The Russian is enjoying the best season of her career, having also won the Libema Open in the Netherlands in June, and is set to rise to a career-high 21 in the world.

“You always want to achieve more,” Alexandrova added.

“I want to go higher and maybe end the year top 20 in the best-case scenario.”

Ostapenko had advanced to the Korea Open final after former US Open winner Emma Raducanu retired in the third set of their semifinal with injury.