Female referee at men’s World Cup wants the game to shine

Female referee at men’s World Cup wants the game to shine
Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita warms up during a training session Monday, June 27, 2022, at JFA YUME Field in Chiba, near Tokyo. (AP)
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Updated 28 June 2022

Female referee at men’s World Cup wants the game to shine

Female referee at men’s World Cup wants the game to shine
  • Yamashita is one of three women picked by FIFA to be referees at the men’s World Cup in Qatar, which opens on Nov. 21

TOKYO: Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita agrees with Pelé or whoever it was decades ago that first described soccer as the “beautiful game.”
Yamashita is one of three women picked by FIFA to be referees at the men’s World Cup in Qatar, which opens on Nov. 21. It’s the first time a woman will be in charge on soccer’s largest stage.
She sees her job this way: Let the game shine, as it should.
“One of the big goals as a referee is to bring out the the attractiveness of soccer,” she said Monday in Tokyo in an interview with the Associated Press. “I do my best for that, and I will do what I should at that time toward that end. So if I need to communicate with the players, I will do that. If I need to show a card, I will show a card. Rather than control, I’m thinking about what to do toward the big goal of bringing out the appeal of soccer.”
Stéphanie Frappart of France and Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda are the other women who were selected. There are 36 referees in total. FIFA has also named three female assistant referees in a pool of 69: Neuza Back of Brazil, Karen Diaz Medina of Mexico, and Kathryn Nesbitt of the United States.
Though it’s likely all three will be in charge of games, it’s not a given. They would also be used as so-called “fourth referees” on the sidelines. However, they cannot be used as assistants.
“Each match official will be carefully monitored in the next months with a final assessment on technical, physical and medical aspects to be made shortly before the World Cup,” Massimo Busacca, FIFA’s director of refereeing, said in a statement.
Yamashita’s selection puts the focus on Japan’s low ranking on most measures of equal pay for women, and in global studies of gender equality.
Only 14.3 percent of the seats in Japan’s national legislature are held by women — 152nd of 190 countries in a study published several months ago by the US Congressional Research Service. Another study on the gender pay gap placed Japan 120th of 156 countries.
“I would be very happy if women could play an active role in sports in this way, and if sports and especially soccer could lead this,” Yamashita said. “In Japan, there is still a long way to go in the world of soccer (regarding participation of women), so it would be great if this could connect to promotion of female participation in different ways, not only in soccer or in sports.”
Women’s soccer has led the way in Japan. Japanese women won the 2011 women’s World Cup, were runners-up in 2015, and have been been consistently among the game’s elite teams.
Yamashita went through a workout on Monday just outside Tokyo, sweltering in temperatures that reached 35 C (95 F). She laughed when she was reminded that games in Qatar — located on a tip of the Arabian Peninsula — will be much cooler, being played in the Northern Hemisphere winter and in air-conditioned stadiums.
Yamashita seemed relaxed during the interview, removed from the obvious pressure. She has been a referee in Japan’s men’s J League, and has also been in charge of the Asian equivalent of the men’s Champions League. She also handled matches during last year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“Of course, I think the pressure is huge,” she said, “and I think I have a lot of responsibility. But I am really happy to take this duty and pressure, so I try to take it positively and I try to be happy.”
She described the excitement of leaving the waiting room just before a match.
“I guess it cheers me up in that moment. I feel like that’s when I switch gears the most,” she said.
She said the difference in the men’s and women’s game was, of course, speed. But not simply that some men might run faster.
“It’s the speed, but not just the players’ speed,” she said. “Not the ball speed. It’s just the game speed. It means for me I have to make quicker decisions — more speed.”
Yamashita conducted most of the interview in Japanese, but said she would use English and “facial gestures, body gestures” when communicating with players in Qatar.
“Usually when I give a card, I say nothing,” she said, shifting to English. “But when I give a warning, I just tell them I’m not happy. They understand.”


Ibrahim Al-Marzouki wins Saudi Arabia’s first medal at Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey

Ibrahim Al-Marzouki wins Saudi Arabia’s first medal at Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey
Updated 22 sec ago

Ibrahim Al-Marzouki wins Saudi Arabia’s first medal at Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey

Ibrahim Al-Marzouki wins Saudi Arabia’s first medal at Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey
  • The paralympic swimmer took bronze in the 50m butterfly at Konya 2022
  • Kingdom’s Olympic star Ali Al-Khadrawi reached the table tennis quarterfinals

Paralympic swimmer Ibrahim Al-Marzouki on Sunday claimed Saudi Arabia’s first medal at the Islamic Solidarity Games in Konya, Turkey.

Al-Marzouki took bronze after finishing third in the 50-meter butterfly final with a time of 49.12 seconds.

Teammate Turki Alharbi finished fourth in the 100 butterfly race with a time of 1 minute, 12.87 seconds, and in the same position in the 400 freestyle race with a time of 5:25.98. The Paralympic swimming competition will continue on Monday.

In the table tennis competition, Saudi Arabia’s Ali Al-Khadrawi, who took part in last year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, qualified for Monday’s singles quarterfinals after defeating Indonesia’s Ravanel Nikola in three straight sets.

Saudi colleague Abdulaziz Bushlebi was eliminated from the singles competition after losing 3-1 to Denis Zholudev of Tajikistan.

Monday will see the Saudi U-23 football team kick off its campaign against Azerbaijan in Group B, which also includes Morocco and Iran.

The Saudi athletics team will also launch their participation on Monday in six events.

Runners Abdullah Abkar and Mohammed Daoud will participate in the 100 qualifiers, Olympian Yasmine Al-Dabbagh in the women’s 100, and Mohammed Al-Maawi in the 400 hurdles.

Yousef Masrahi and Mazen Al-Yassin will race in the 400 qualifiers, Tariq Al-Omari in the 5000 final, and Rami Mohamed Tolo will take part in the shot-put finals.


Former Man United star Giggs goes on trial for assault

Former Man United star Giggs goes on trial for assault
Updated 08 August 2022

Former Man United star Giggs goes on trial for assault

Former Man United star Giggs goes on trial for assault
  • Giggs is charged with assaulting his former girlfriend, PR executive Kate Greville, causing her bodily harm

LONDON: Former Manchester United star Ryan Giggs stands trial Monday on charges of attacking and coercively controlling his ex-girlfriend, in a case that has upended his managerial career.

The 48-year-old, who until recently served as coach of the Wales national team, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which carry a maximum jail term of five years.

The jury trial at a crown court in Manchester was set to open at 10:30 am (0930 GMT), presided over by judge Hilary Manley. It is expected to last 10 days.

Giggs is charged with assaulting his former girlfriend, PR executive Kate Greville, causing her actual bodily harm on Nov. 1, 2020, when police were called to his home in the Manchester area.

The Welshman is further charged with common assault of her younger sister, Emma Greville, on the same day.

He also faces a charge of controlling and coercive behavior toward Kate Greville throughout their relationship, which began in 2017 and ended with the alleged assault.

The charge specifies that his behavior toward Greville, 36, included the use of “isolation, belittling, humiliation, harassment, degradation and abuse.”

Giggs was arrested by police at his home in November 2020 and released on bail.

He has denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty at an initial court appearance in April last year.

His trial was due to be heard in January but it was delayed due to a backlog of court cases caused by the Covid pandemic.

Giggs’s lawyer, Chris Daw, has acted for high-profile sports figures including former England and Chelsea football captain John Terry, who was found not guilty of racially abusing fellow player Anton Ferdinand in 2012.

Giggs resigned as the Wales manager in June, after being on leave since his arrest.

He said he did not want “continued interest around this case” to affect the team as it prepares for this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

He remains on conditional bail, and has said he looks forward to “clearing my name.”

A dazzling teenage talent, Giggs ended his career at Old Trafford as the most-decorated player in English football history.

As a player, Giggs made a club-record 963 appearances over 23 years for Manchester United, winning 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies.

He then began his coaching career at Old Trafford, taking temporary charge at the end of the 2013/14 season after David Moyes was sacked before working as an assistant to Louis van Gaal for two years.

Giggs was appointed Wales boss in January 2018 and helped them secure qualification for Euro 2020, just their second major tournament appearance since the 1958 World Cup.

His trial opens shortly before another court case involving a star footballer, Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy.

The Frenchman is set to go on trial on Wednesday in Chester, northwest England, accused of rape and assault in a case involving seven women.

Mendy, who has been suspended by City, denies the allegations.


Seventh-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina triumphs in San Jose

Seventh-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina triumphs in San Jose
Updated 08 August 2022

Seventh-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina triumphs in San Jose

Seventh-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina triumphs in San Jose
  • Kasatkina rallied from one set down after dropping the opener in a tiebreaker and beat unseeded American Shelby Rogers for the championship, 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-2

SAN JOSE, California: Daria Kasatkina fell to the ground in triumph and laid on her back for several moments after attacking a short ball off her serve and putting it away with a forehand winner on match point.

A dramatic comeback victory sealed Sunday at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, the Russian star then turned back to the big picture in her topsy-turvy world: “I want to thank every single person who is sharing now this moment with us on this beautiful court, thank you guys,” she told the crowd at San Jose State University while accepting her trophy. “I want to wish you, everyone, a lot of love, happiness and ... peace in this world.”

The seventh-seeded Kasatkina rallied from one set down after dropping the opener in a tiebreaker and beat unseeded American Shelby Rogers for the championship, 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-2.

The 25-year-old Kasatkina immediately found her rhythm again following a frustrating tiebreaker in a first set she had led 4-2 and 5-3 before some mistakes in crucial moments, such as double faults. Now, her first title this year and fifth overall will propel her back into this week’s top-10 rankings — and No. 10 is her previous career best.

“It’s a tough journey, which is still going on. I’m happy with the way things are going, especially this season, but I don’t want to stop, because I did this mistake already one time and I don’t want to repeat it,” she said. “I’m still hungry for the wins.”

Kasatkina lost here in last year’s championship. She became the first player to make consecutive finals in the event since Serena Williams in 2011-12 and earned her first title since St. Petersburg last year — snapping a two-match skid in finals, having lost last year here and at Birmingham. It also was her 200th career main draw win on tour.

“I feel great, every year better and better, I wonder what it’s going to be next year,” Kasatkina said.

Now, off to Toronto for the next tournament.

“We’re very happy because of the great job that she’s doing we have now the result here. We are super proud of Daria because she’s a great champion,” coach Carlos Martinez said, pleased with Kasatkina’s resilience after falling behind a set. “... She’s fighting ‘til the end, fighting for every single ball. She’s very consistent.”

Early on, Rogers scampered all over the court to keep long baseline rallies alive before closing out points or forcing Kasatkina into an error. By the third set, she was slapping her leg in frustration and growling aloud, though she said afterward how much she appreciated the support of the crowd cheering her name and holding signs reading “GO SHELBY!”

Rogers rallied in the first set, playing impressive comeback tennis for a second straight day. She trailed 4-2 and 5-3 before going up 6-5, then holding on to win the first set. Kasatkina double-faulted to make it 6-1 in the tiebreaker.

Kasatkina then gathered herself.

“I played really solid. I thought I picked my chances well and was aggressive when I needed to be, was patient when I needed to be,” Rogers said. “She made me hit a lot of balls, she hits a lot of balls back, she’s one of the best movers on the tour. The wind started to pick up. She started putting a little more pace on the ball and being a little more aggressive, too, and just reset after that first set.”

Rogers defeated No. 9 seed Veronika Kudermetova of Russia 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday in the semifinals — trailing Kudermetova 4-3 in the second set before breaking serve twice while winning three straight games to pull out the match.

In the earlier doubles final Sunday, fourth-seeded Chinese pair of Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan defeated the unseeded duo of Shuko Aoyama from Japan and Chan Hao-Ching of Taiwan 7-5, 6-0. They will face off in the first round this week in Toronto for an immediate rematch.


Kyrgios ends title drought at Citi Open; Samsonova takes women’s crown

Kyrgios ends title drought at Citi Open; Samsonova takes women’s crown
Updated 08 August 2022

Kyrgios ends title drought at Citi Open; Samsonova takes women’s crown

Kyrgios ends title drought at Citi Open; Samsonova takes women’s crown
  • This marks quite a bit of unusual consistency for Kyrgios, who was coming off a run to his first Grand Slam final at the All England Club, where he lost to Novak Djokovic last month

WASHINGTON: Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios ended a three-year title drought by claiming the trophy at the site of his last triumph, saving the only break point he faced in the Citi Open final Sunday along the way to a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Yoshihito Nishioka.

Kyrgios’ seventh career tour-level championship came where his sixth did in 2019 — on the hard courts of the US Open tuneup in the American capital.

Earlier Sunday, Liudmila Samsonova won her second career WTA title by coming back to beat sixth-seeded Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Citi Open women’s final.

As usual when Kyrgios is on his game, the serve led the way for the 27-year-old Australian: He hit 12 aces and won 22 of 25 first-serve points. He won all nine of his service games against Nishioka, making him 64 for 64 in the tournament, wrapping up the week by saving all 10 of his opponents’ break points. The only one Kyrgios had to deal with Sunday came at 3-2 in the first set, and Kyrgios dismissed it via a volley winner.

At the other end, Kyrgios managed to break Japan’s Nishioka, who is ranked 96th and eliminated top-seeded Andrey Rublev in the semifinals, three times — in the opening game of each set and again in the match’s final game.

This marks quite a bit of unusual consistency for Kyrgios, who was coming off a run to his first Grand Slam final at the All England Club, where he lost to Novak Djokovic last month. Kyrgios did not get any rankings points for that showing — there were no points awarded to anyone at Wimbledon — but the title in Washington will push him from 63rd to 37th, within shouting range of a possible seeding at the US Open.

Play begins at Flushing Meadows on Aug. 29. That is less than a week after a court hearing in Australia is scheduled for a common assault allegation against Kyrgios.

Samsonova is a 23-year-old Russian who reached a career-best ranking of 25th in May but is currently 60th after needing to sit out part of the season, including Wimbledon, because of her country’s attack on Ukraine. She used a powerful serve that reached 119 mph against Kanepi to make her way through the bracket at the hard-court tournament, including a victory over reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.

Samsonova’s other championship came last year at a grass-court tournament in Berlin. Kanepi, a 37-year-old from Estonia, was seeking her first trophy since 2013. She left the court for a medical timeout in the third set Sunday because of what she said was an abdominal muscle problem.

“I guess a lot of matches and a lot of serving this week,” Kanepi said.

Kyrgios’ victory was shown on Tennis Channel, which shunted the women’s final off its main station and instead aired pickleball — because, tournament chairman Mark Ein said, of a prior commitment.

Both women are quite capable of terrific serving and showed so right away: Kanepi closed out her first service game with a 96 mph ace; Samsonova finished off hers with a 112 mph service winner.

“She served better than me today,” Kanepi said, “and maybe that was the key.”

Samsonova’s take? The vital factor was her ability to eventually attack Kanepi’s serve.

This was big-serve, quick-strike tennis between a pair of women with similar playing styles on a humid, 90-degree Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) afternoon. Some spectators held umbrellas to provide shade; portable electric fans were placed next to sideline seats to offer a bit of respite to the players during changeovers; Samsonova held a plastic bag filled with ice atop her head.

Samsonova earned her first break opportunity of the match an hour in, when Kanepi dumped a forehand into the net. Samsonova converted it and went ahead 4-3 when Kanepi sailed a backhand long.

Kanepi’s mistakes kept mounting and, suddenly, the second set belonged to Samsonova as part of a five-game run.

Helped by a double-fault, Samsonova broke to lead 5-3 in the third, then served it out.


Australia win historic cricket gold at Commonwealth Games as athletics wraps up

Australia win historic cricket gold at Commonwealth Games as athletics wraps up
Updated 08 August 2022

Australia win historic cricket gold at Commonwealth Games as athletics wraps up

Australia win historic cricket gold at Commonwealth Games as athletics wraps up
  • Hot favorites Australia held their nerve to beat India by nine runs in a Twenty20 thriller in front of a big Edgbaston crowd
  • Muir, who won bronze in the 800m on Saturday, kicked for glory before the bell and ran a fairly moderate field — lacking two-time Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon — ragged, timing 4min 02.75sec

BIRMINGHAM: Australia won the first women’s cricket gold medal in Commonwealth Games history on Sunday as Scotland’s Laura Muir captured the 1500m title on the final night of athletics.

On the penultimate day of competition in Birmingham, England’s women won hockey gold and Australia beat Jamaica in the netball final.

With just a few events to go on Monday, Australia lead the way with 66 golds, 11 ahead of hosts England.

Hot favorites Australia held their nerve to beat India by nine runs in a Twenty20 thriller in front of a big Edgbaston crowd.

Opener Beth Mooney top-scored with 61 as Australia made 161-8 in their 20 overs in the warm sunshine.

India appeared to be on course for a shock win when they were cruising at 118-2.

But the dismissals of Jemimah Rodrigues (33) and captain Harmanpreet Kaur (65) sapped their momentum and they fell frustratingly short.

Australia partied on the pitch as the lights went out around the stadium.

“It’s absolutely huge,” said left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen.

“We are blessed enough to be part of some winning World Cup teams but to win the first gold medal for women’s cricket in the Commonwealth Games, you’re only ever going to do that once.”

Victory underlines the dominance of Australia’s women, who are also world champions in the 20-over and 50-over formats.

In the bronze medal match earlier on Sunday, New Zealand coasted to an eight-wicket win over England.

Muir ended her Commonwealth Games campaign with a flourish by winning gold in the 1500m at the Alexander Stadium.

The 29-year-old’s team-mate, 10,000m champion Eilish McColgan, just failed in her bid for memorable double, finishing second behind Kenya’s impressive world silver medallist Beatrice Chebet in the women’s 5,000m.

Muir, who won bronze in the 800m on Saturday, kicked for glory before the bell and ran a fairly moderate field — lacking two-time Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon — ragged, timing 4min 02.75sec.

The Olympic silver medalist was overjoyed, having failed to medal in 2014 and missing the 2018 Games due to veterinary exams.

“You learn from it and your time will come,” said Muir. “It sounds cheesy but it’s true. Eight years of Commonwealths and it’s been bugging me so this means a lot.”

Wyclife Kinyamal defended his men’s 800m crown in a time of 1:47.52.

It was an impressive turnaround for the 25-year-old, who finished last in the final of the world championships in July.

“Eugene (the world final) was disappointing but it is just like any race,” he said. “Because if today you win, tomorrow you lose.

“I guess because I failed there, I looked forward to coming here to defend my title.”

New Zealand cyclist Aaron Gate won the men’s road race to collect his fourth gold medal of the Commonwealth Games.

“Three felt great and I was super happy with that,” said Gate, who won three track events earlier in the Games.

“I came here today and managed to help the team, and if the opportunity arose to go for a fourth one I just had to grab it with both hands.”

In the women’s race, Australia’s Georgia Baker won her third gold of the games.

England won hockey gold for the first time after holding off a fightback from Australia to win 2-1.

Second-quarter goals from Holly Hunt and Tess Howard ultimately provided decisive 24 hours after the men’s team had suffered semifinal despair at the hands of Australia.

Australia’s men, who are six-time defending champions, take on India in the final on Monday.

There was more joy for Australia in the netball competition, with a 55-51 over Jamaica in the final.

Australia also shone at the Sandwell Aquatics Center, wrapping up the diving competition in style.

Cassiel Rousseau took the men’s 10m platform title and Maddison Keeney won her second gold of the games in the women’s 3m springboard.

England’s Delicious Orie won super heavyweight gold on a busy night of boxing, beating India’s Sagar Ahlawat.

India won three other golds in boxing but Northern Ireland took five, including a special double for Aidan Walsh and his sister Michaela.