Ten Hag sees ‘potential’ as Man United beat Liverpool 4-0

Ten Hag sees ‘potential’ as Man United beat Liverpool 4-0
Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes, second from left, and team manager Erik ten Hag hold the trophy after winning their pre-season soccer match at the Rajamangala national stadium In Bangkok ,Thailand, Tuesday. (AP)
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Updated 13 July 2022

Ten Hag sees ‘potential’ as Man United beat Liverpool 4-0

Ten Hag sees ‘potential’ as Man United beat Liverpool 4-0
  • More than 50,000 fans packed into Bangkok’s iconic Rajamangala Stadium for a first chance to see Premier League stars since before the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Ten Hag made 11 changes during the game as both coaches spread the minutes around

BANGKOK: New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag oversaw a 4-0 win over archrival Liverpool on Tuesday in his first game in charge as European pre-season friendlies returned to Asia after a two-year break.

The Dutch coach was quick to downplay the significance of the result, however, against a Liverpool side that made a total of 21 substitutions.

“I think our team played brave, played proactive. We have to work really hard to cut out the mistakes but of course we are happy with the first game. I know we have good players,” Ten Hag told the club’s in-house TV channel. “They were not in their strongest so we have to not overestimate this result. ... But, still, I have seen some really good things and I think what you see is we have a lot of creativity and speed up front, so we have potential.”

More than 50,000 fans packed into Bangkok’s iconic Rajamangala Stadium for a first chance to see Premier League stars since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Top European teams have been coming to Asia for preseason tours for decades — this was Liverpool’s seventh visit to Bangkok — but those trips were called off in 2020 and 2021.

Jadon Sancho, Fred and Anthony Martial scored in the first half for United, while Facundo Pellistri added a late fourth in reversal of last season’s results when Liverpool beat their northwest rival 5-0 and 4-0 in the Premier League.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp wasn’t bothered by the result, having left stars such as Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk on the bench at the start of the game.

“The game obviously came a bit too early for us, for a few of our players.,” Klopp said. “You can see that as well. Mistakes happen in football. We could have scored I think three or four in the last five minutes but didn’t and that was our fault.”

Ten Hag made 11 changes during the game as both coaches spread the minutes around.

While the Thai fans were happy to see the return of the Premier League giants, many were unhappy about the ticket prices. In a country where the annual GDP per capita in 2021 was $7,233, according to the World Bank, the cheapest tickets to the friendly game were $138.

“Of course, it is very expensive for Thai people and most can’t afford the ticket prices,” Kittisak Chumpon, a Bangkok-based Manchester United fan, told The Associated Press. “It is, however, a very rare opportunity to see these two clubs play each other and it is still cheaper than going to England to watch them.”

United next head to Australia to face local team Melbourne Victory as well as Premier League rivals Crystal Palace and Aston Villa. Crystal Palace are also the next opposition for Liverpool. The two teams meet in Singapore on Friday with the cheapest tickets costing around $105.

“It’s tough … we were not on tours for a long time, so we do it now and from here to Singapore,” Klopp said. “Then on Saturday we already go home again, so that’s fine. So far, it’s really OK apart from the result. Everything is, so far, OK. The welcome here was fantastic and I am pretty sure in Singapore it will be similar.”


Paris joins big screen boycott of World Cup games from Qatar

Paris joins big screen boycott of World Cup games from Qatar
Updated 05 October 2022

Paris joins big screen boycott of World Cup games from Qatar

Paris joins big screen boycott of World Cup games from Qatar
  • It follows similar moves by other French cities, despite France going in as the defending champion
  • The move comes despite the city's football club, Paris Saint-Germain, being owned by Qatar Sports Investments

PARIS: Paris will not broadcast World Cup matches on giant screens in public fan zones amid concerns over rights violations of migrant workers and the environmental impact of the tournament in Qatar.
It follows similar moves by other French cities, despite France going in as the defending champion. Some other European teams or federations are also looking at ways to protest.
Pierre Rabadan, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of sports, told reporters in the French capital that the decision against public broadcasting of matches is due to “the conditions of the organization of this World Cup, both on the environmental and social level.”
He said in an interview with France Blue Paris that “air-conditioned stadiums” and the “conditions in which these facilities have been built are to be questioned.”
Rabadan stressed that Paris is not boycotting the soccer tournament, but explained that Qatar’s “model of staging big events goes against what (Paris, the host of the 2024 Olympics) wants to organize.”
The move comes despite the city’s football club, Paris Saint-Germain, being owned by Qatar Sports Investments.
“We have very constructive relations with the club and its entourage yet it doesn’t prevent us to say when we disagree,” Rabadan said.
Denmark is staging its own protest: Its team jerseys at the World Cup will include a black option to honor migrant workers who died during construction work for the tournament. And several European soccer federations want their captains to wear an armband with a rainbow heart design during World Cup games to campaign against discrimination.
A growing number of French cities are refusing to erect screens to broadcast World Cup matches to protest Qatar’s human rights record.
The mayor of Strasbourg, the seat of the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights, cited allegations of human rights abuses and exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar as the reason for canceling public broadcasts of the World Cup.
“It’s impossible for us to ignore the many warnings of abuse and exploitation of migrant workers by non-governmental organizations,” Jeanne Barseghian said in a statement. “We cannot condone these abuses, we cannot turn a blind eye when human rights are violated.”
And then, there’s the impact on the environment, Barseghian said.
“While climate change is a palpable reality, with fires and droughts and other disaster, organizing a soccer tournament in the desert defies common sense and amounts to an ecological disaster,” she said.
Arnaud Deslandes, a deputy mayor of Lille, said that by canceling public viewing of matches, the northern city wanted to send a message to FIFA about the irreparable damage of the Qatar tournament to the environment.
“We want to show FIFA that money is not everything,” Deslandes told The Associated Press in an interview.
As for residents’ reactions to the city’s decision, he added: “I have yet to meet a person in Lille who was disappointed by our decision.”
The gas-rich emirate has been fiercely criticized in the past decade for its treatment of migrant workers, mostly from south Asia, who were needed to build tens of billions of dollars’ worth of stadiums, metro lines, roads and hotels.
Qatar has been equally fierce in denying accusations of human rights abuses, and has repeatedly rejected allegations that the safety and health of 30,000 workers who built the World Cup infrastructure have been jeopardized.
Qatar has also said that it is mindful of environmental concerns and has committed to offsetting some of the carbon emissions from the World Cup events through creating new green spaces irrigated with recycled water and building alternative energy projects.
Environmental activists across France have supported the cancelation of public broadcasting in fan zones because outdoor viewing of the Nov. 20-Dec. 19 tournament would use energy that the country has been storing for winter.


Ukraine to join Spain and Portugal in 2030 World Cup bid

Ukraine to join Spain and Portugal in 2030 World Cup bid
Updated 05 October 2022

Ukraine to join Spain and Portugal in 2030 World Cup bid

Ukraine to join Spain and Portugal in 2030 World Cup bid
  • “Now the Ukrainian delegation will unite with us,” the Spanish football association’s president said
  • Portugal held the 2004 European Championship while Ukraine was a joint host with Poland of Euro 2012

NYON, Switzerland: War-torn Ukraine will join Spain and Portugal in a bid to host the 2030 World Cup, presidents from the three countries’ football associations announced on Wednesday.
The original proposal was made public two years ago but has been given a political impetus by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The institutional headquarters are in Madrid, the administrative headquarters are in Lisbon. Now the Ukrainian delegation will unite with us,” the Spanish football association’s (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales said.
“In the coming months, we will come to work on practicalities,” he added.
RFEF, which organized the 1982 edition, said in a statement the idea was backed by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.
“The Royal Spanish Football Federation and the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) have incorporated the Ukrainian Football Association (UAF) into the Iberian Bid to organize the 2030 World Cup,” RFEF said.
“With the full support of Aleksander Ceferin, the Iberian bid incorporates the federation chaired by Andriy Pavelko in order to build bridges and project a message of unity, solidarity and generosity from all of European football,” it added.
Portugal held the 2004 European Championship while Ukraine was a joint host with Poland of Euro 2012.
“The example of tenacity and resilience set by the Ukrainian people is inspiring,” the FPF said.
The FPF added that the joint bid “aims to contribute through the power of football to the recovery of a country undergoing reconstruction.”
It added the terms of Ukraine’s role in the bid “will be discussed and defined in due course.”
It follows the announcement last month from an Egyptian official that Egypt, Greece and Saudi Arabia are in talks to jointly host the 2030 World Cup.
In August, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay launched their bid to host the event — which is the centenary of the first World Cup, held in Uruguay — with the hope of bringing the global showpiece back to its first home.
The 2026 edition has already been awarded to three countries — Canada, Mexico and the United States.
More than half of the 21 World Cup finals already staged have been in Europe but later this year Qatar will host the finals, the first time they have been played in the Middle East.


Christensen ruled out as Barca injury crisis deepens

Christensen ruled out as Barca injury crisis deepens
Updated 05 October 2022

Christensen ruled out as Barca injury crisis deepens

Christensen ruled out as Barca injury crisis deepens
  • The Denmark centre-back was taken off in the 1-0 defeat by Inter Milan on Tuesday
  • Barca are already without Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde and Hector Bellerin in defence

BARCELONA: Barcelona defender Andreas Christensen has suffered a sprained ankle, the club confirmed on Wednesday, leaving the Catalans with only two fit center-backs.
The Denmark center-back was taken off in the 1-0 defeat by Inter Milan on Tuesday at the San Siro, and is a doubt for upcoming games, including the Clasico on October 16.
Barca are already without Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde and Hector Bellerin in defense, as well as Dutch duo Memphis Depay and Frenkie de Jong.
“Tests carried out on Wednesday have confirmed that the first team player Andreas Christensen has a sprained left ankle,” said Barca in a statement.
“He is unavailable and his recovery will dictate his return.”
Gerard Pique and Eric Garcia are set to line up in the center of defense against Celta Vigo on Sunday in La Liga, with Xavi thin on alternatives beyond using players from the B team.
Inter visit Camp Nou on Wednesday October 12, a crucial game for Barca’s hopes of qualifying for the next round of the Champions Leagues, before the Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu.


Liv Golf makes long-awaited Asian debut in Thailand

Liv Golf makes long-awaited Asian debut in Thailand
Updated 05 October 2022

Liv Golf makes long-awaited Asian debut in Thailand

Liv Golf makes long-awaited Asian debut in Thailand
  • 48 world-class players to tee off for $25m in Bangkok
  • Innovative changes to sport ‘thrilling’ fans, says Greg Norman

BANGKOK: The 48 world-class players preparing to tee off at the $25-million LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok will have plenty to play for this week when they line up at the all-new Stonehill venue from Oct. 7 to 9.

“In our inaugural year with the Invitational Series, LIV Golf is already making waves among golf fans globally. Innovation creates energy that will further grow the sport into the future, and we are proud to be at the forefront of this movement,” said Greg Norman, CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf.

“Our world-class players and new team format are generating a thrilling conclusion to this first year, and I’m eager to watch the action unfold in our final three tournaments of 2022.”

The world’s best are jostling for position in the individual standings, where a $30 million purse will be shared among the top three podium places at the end of the campaign.

This year’s champion in the final individual standings after the LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah will receive a first-place prize of $18 million, with $8 million to the runner-up and $4 million for third place.

In the individual standings, where points are awarded to the top 24 finishers within each tournament’s 48-player field, 2016 US Open and 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson leads the pack with 118 points. The American holds a healthy 39-point lead over his nearest challenger thanks to a win in Boston, top-three finishes in Bedminster and Chicago and consistent play throughout five events in which he has never finished outside the top 10.

South African Branden Grace (79) is in second place with a victory in Portland and is trailed by 2022 Open winner Cameron Smith (56).

The Australian currently holds third place after notable performances in just two events: A fourth-place finish in his LIV Golf debut in Boston, followed by a three-stroke win in Chicago, the largest margin of victory for any LIV Golf individual champion this season.

The team competition is building for an exciting finish, as LIV Golf’s 12 teams prepare for the back-to-back Asian swing in Thailand and Saudi Arabia before turning their attention to the season-ending LIV Golf Invitational Miami Team Championship at Trump National Doral Golf Club from Oct. 28 to 30.

The iconic Blue Monster course will stage the seeded three-day, knockout tournament featuring both match play and stroke play, as teams compete for a historic $50 million purse.


Andrey Rublev to defend his Mubadala World Tennis Championship crown

Andrey Rublev to defend his Mubadala World Tennis Championship crown
Updated 05 October 2022

Andrey Rublev to defend his Mubadala World Tennis Championship crown

Andrey Rublev to defend his Mubadala World Tennis Championship crown
  • Event’s stars include world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, US and French Open finalist Casper Ruud, world No. 2 Ons Jabeur and British No. 1 Emma Raducanu
  • 3 more ‘big names’ to be announced soon, say organizers

ABU DHABI: Andrey Rublev will return to Abu Dhabi in December to defend his Mubadala World Tennis Championship title, organizers have confirmed.

He is the latest star to join the six-player male lineup at the MWTC from Dec. 16 to 18 that includes world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and regular Slam finalist Casper Ruud, with three more big-name players expected to be unveiled soon.

The 24-year-old, who has reached a career-high ranking of No. 5, secured his first MWTC title with a straight sets victory over Andy Murray at the International Tennis Center in Zayed Sports City last December.

Rublev has 11 ATP Tour singles titles and three doubles titles to his credit. He won the mixed doubles gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics alongside compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and has reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam five times, including at this year’s French and US Opens.

Fans will have the chance to catch two of the best women’s players on the tournament’s first day, with world No. 2 US Open finalist and defending MWTC champion Ons Jabeur taking on 2021 US Open Champion and British No. 1 Emma Raducanu.

“Last year’s event was memorable, firstly to see the return of the championship after the rebound of live events and, secondly, because of the top-class tennis on display. Andrey was a worthy winner so it’s great that we have secured his return alongside the next generation of superstars Carlos, Casper, Ons and Emma. The 14th edition is shaping up to be a very exciting three days of action on and off the court,” said John Lickrish, CEO, Flash Entertainment.

The Arabian Gulf’s leading tennis experience will also bring its traditional mix of interactive activities, and player meet-and-greets.

Tickets start from AED95 for adults and AED45 for children. Three-day packages offer a 20 percent saving, guaranteeing spectators a seat for the entire championship.

Premier hospitality tickets also offer fans a special menu and courtside seating. More details are available at www.mubadalawtc.com.