New baseball league announces Dubai International Stadium as official venue for inaugural showcase

New baseball league announces Dubai International Stadium as official venue for inaugural showcase
Kanwal S. Sra (left), founder and chairman of the UIBL, and Kash Shaikh, president and chief marketing officer, at Dubai International Stadium. (Supplied)
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Updated 18 August 2022

New baseball league announces Dubai International Stadium as official venue for inaugural showcase

New baseball league announces Dubai International Stadium as official venue for inaugural showcase
  • The UIBL will transform the cricket stadium into the region’s first professional diamond-shaped park

DUBAI: The United International Baseball League, the first-ever professional baseball competition created for India, Pakistan and the Middle East, has signed a partnership with Dubai Sports City, which will see Dubai International Stadium as the official venue for the UIBL’s inaugural showcase from Feb. 23 to March 5, 2023.

The venue will play host to nine games and one exhibition featuring four of the league’s initial franchises.

Dubai International Stadium is an anchor of the Dubai Sports City complex, the premier multi-purpose sports development in Dubai. The stadium, which opened in 2009, has hosted several high-profile International Cricket Council and Indian Premier League tournaments, including last year’s IPL final between the Chennai Super Kings and the Kolkata Knight Riders. The venue will also be home to the inaugural season of the International League T20, the UAE’s professional cricket league that begins play in January 2023.

“It’s an honor for our league to begin play in one of the world’s most storied stadiums,” said Kanwal S. Sra, founder, chairman and CEO of the UIBL. “Dubai International Stadium is one of the jewels of the region, and it will be an incredible launchpad for the UIBL as we bring professional baseball to fans across the Middle East and South Asia. We greatly appreciate the support and partnership of Dubai Sports Council, Dubai Sports City, and the entire Dubai International Stadium team.”

A key part of the UIBL’s growth strategy and intellectual property is the league’s process of transforming cricket fields — plentiful across the Indian Subcontinent and the Middle East — into baseball diamonds. This includes formulation and transportation of the infield dirt, design and implementation of the fencing, and customization and build-out of the dugouts, bullpens and pitching mound. In addition, the UIBL team is creating first-of-its-kind seating options that will get fans closer than ever to the action.

“In the US, we have baseball fields in nearly every neighborhood,” said Kash Shaikh, president and chief marketing officer of the UIBL. “In India and the Middle East, you can drive thousands of miles without seeing one. While we work at the grassroots level to help expand that infrastructure, we are simultaneously creating our own proprietary process to transform world-class cricket stadiums into hotbeds of professional baseball. And, since we are starting with a blank canvas, we also get to reimagine how fans can experience the game. I’m really excited about the game innovations, fan experiences, and new seating concepts we have in store.”

The UIBL plans to share the stadium designs and new fan seating options — including new premium and corporate seating — in the months ahead. In addition to the UIBL’s innovation plans, Dubai International Stadium is world-famous for its “Ring of Fire” — a special system of 350 floodlights fixed around the circumference of its round roof. The lights minimize the shadows and replace the need for traditional light towers.

“We are honored to host the UIBL at Dubai International Stadium,” said Khalid Al-Zarooni, president of Dubai Sports City. “This event continues our stadium’s tradition of hosting world-class international sporting events. We support the UIBL’s vision to bring baseball to our region, and we’re excited to offer fans across our city — and the world — the chance to experience America’s pastime.”


No respite for Bayern players with Leverkusen game looming

No respite for Bayern players with Leverkusen game looming
Updated 15 sec ago

No respite for Bayern players with Leverkusen game looming

No respite for Bayern players with Leverkusen game looming
BERLIN: The international break provided little respite for Bayern Munich’s struggling stars ahead of the team’s high-stakes Bundesliga game against Bayer Leverkusen on Friday.
Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann welcomed Germany players Thomas Müller, Joshua Kimmich, Leroy Sané, Jamal Musiala and Serge Gnabry back to training on Wednesday after what proved to be a frustrating two games with the national team.
The rain they encountered in Munich matched the mood.
Bayern, after four games without a win in the Bundesliga, had been hoping that Germany’s Nations League games against Hungary and England would help reinvigorate their players and restore confidence ahead of a busy schedule of domestic and Champions League games.
Instead, Bayern’s players took their poor form to the Germany team, which lost 1-0 at home to Hungary, then drew 3-3 with England after throwing away a two-goal lead.
Bayern captain Manuel Neuer and midfielder Leon Goretzka missed the Germany games due to coronavirus infections, but both were back on the training field for Nagelsmann on Tuesday.
Nagelsmann had said he was going to use the break to think “about everything” after Bayern ended their run of three draws with a loss in Augsburg, the team’s first defeat of the season.
Only a convincing performance on Friday will ease the pressure on the coach, who seemed to be at a loss to explain his team’s slump. Bayern next face a visit to Borussia Dortmund for “der Klassiker” the following weekend.
Leverkusen also need to make amends after their disappointing start. Gerardo Seoane’s team are in crisis after just one win from seven league games so far.
“Both teams are in a similar situation – each at their own level. Both are dissatisfied with the results, but both also show many positive signs,” Seoane said.
“Bayern Munich had an incredible number of scoring chances in every game. We don’t need to talk about quality.”

Sebastien Loeb ready for battle in Morocco as Rally-Raid title race heats up

Sebastien Loeb ready for battle in Morocco as Rally-Raid title race heats up
Updated 29 September 2022

Sebastien Loeb ready for battle in Morocco as Rally-Raid title race heats up

Sebastien Loeb ready for battle in Morocco as Rally-Raid title race heats up
  • BRX’s French driver holds one-point lead over Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar

AGADIR: Sebastien Loeb is set for another tense battle with Nasser Al-Attiyah as he looks to build on his lead in the World Rally-Raid Championship when the Rallye du Maroc gets underway on Saturday.

Loeb, driving one of three Prodrive Hunters entered by Bahrain Raid Xtreme, holds a slender one-point advantage over Al-Attiyah as the inaugural W2RC series resumes in Agadir after a seven-month break.

Partnered by Fabian Lurquin, nine-time World Rally champion Loeb and the rest of the BRX team recently covered 2,500 km of testing in Morocco, in temperatures close to 50 C, a demanding preparation not only for the Rallye du Maroc, but also the 2023 Dakar Rally.

“We had a good feeling with the car and it was reliable, too, so everything is working well,” said Loeb.

“At the moment we are leading, but we know Nasser will be fast in Morocco and the gap is very small. So we have to fight hard to get some more good points for the title.”

Loeb finished runner-up to Al-Attiyah in this year’s Dakar before grabbing the championship lead from the Qatari in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in March.

Argentina’s Orly Terranova and Spanish co-driver Alex Haro, who finished fourth in the Dakar, are also back in action with BRX in Morocco, while Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit will be partnered by Alex Winocq in a third Prodrive Hunter.

After being diagnosed with cancer in March and battling through treatment, BRX’s Nani Roma rejoined the team months ahead of schedule for testing in Morocco, having already been instrumental in the development of the Hunter.

The two-time Dakar winner has been equally involved in the development of the world’s first all-terrain hypercar, based on the Hunter rally car, which is being built in limited numbers to the individual specifications of select supercar enthusiasts.

Roma will be demonstrating and testing the Hunter hypercar for prospective buyers in Dubai in November. He will continue to work with BRX throughout the team’s rally program, which continues with the Andalucia Rally, the final round of the W2RC, from Oct. 18-21.

However, it is too late in the schedule for Roma to compete with the team in Morocco and Spain next month, and Dakar in January 2023.

From Agadir, Rallye du Maroc heads out for six stages covering 1,575 km and featuring more sand than seen in previous years. The BRX cars will again be using sustainable Eco-Power fuel, which reduces CO2 emissions by 80 percent.

Gus Beteli, the BRX team principal, said: “Following a very positive test in Morocco, we’re very much looking forward to being back rallying against the competition, the clock and the desert.

“Seb, Orly and Guerlain have further improved the package we have through not leaving any angle unexplored for this World Championship push. These are busy but exciting times at BRX.”


Qatar: COVID-19 vaccinations not compulsory for World Cup fans

Qatar: COVID-19 vaccinations not compulsory for World Cup fans
Updated 29 September 2022

Qatar: COVID-19 vaccinations not compulsory for World Cup fans

Qatar: COVID-19 vaccinations not compulsory for World Cup fans
  • All visitors aged over six would have to produce negative COVID-19 tests before taking flights to Qatar for the tournament

DOHA: Coronavirus vaccinations will not be mandatory for the million-plus fans going to the World Cup in Qatar this year, authorities in the Gulf state said on Thursday.

All visitors aged over six will have to produce negative COVID-19 tests before taking flights to Qatar for the tournament that starts November 20, the authorities said in new health guidelines.

The 29-day tournament will be the first major global sporting event with fans since the eruption of the Covid pandemic in December 2019.

The Qatar organizers and world football’s governing body FIFA have said they want the event to be a sign that the world is getting over the devastating pandemic.

But they have warned that health guidelines will change if the threat blows up again.

Fans will have to wear masks in public transport in Qatar and anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 “will be required to isolate in accordance with Ministry of Public Health guidelines,” the health ministry said.

The ministry added that it may force players, referees and officials to stay in a secure “bio-bubble” if coronavirus cases take off “to allow for the safe operation and continuation of the event.”


Saudi Arabia take on Bahrain in opening qualifier of ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2

Saudi Arabia take on Bahrain in opening qualifier of ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2
Updated 29 September 2022

Saudi Arabia take on Bahrain in opening qualifier of ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2

Saudi Arabia take on Bahrain in opening qualifier of ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2
  • Top two teams of qualification campaign in Oman will advance to final 2023 Asia Qualifier with place in 2024 World Cup at stake

Saudi Arabia on Thursday morning take on Bahrain in their opening fixture of the ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2 — Asia qualifiers taking place in Oman.

The youngsters from the Kingdom will then face the hosts on Saturday, Oct. 1, before concluding their Group A matches with a fixture against Bhutan on Monday, Oct 3.

The eight-team qualification campaign also includes Hong Kong, Qatar, Singapore and Thailand, who make up Group B, and will feature 16 matches over nine days.

The top two teams will then advance to the 2023 Asia Qualifier alongside already-qualified Kuwait, Malaysia, Nepal and the UAE, with a place at the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 at stake.

The Saudi squad landed in Muscat on Wednesday after concluding a 45-day intensive training camp in Riyadh in preparation for the World Cup qualifiers.

“We have carried out a talent hunt across the Kingdom and came up with 25 players, and coach Kabir Khan has done a good job training the boys.” said Tariq Ziad Sagga, CEO of the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation (SACF). “The squad has an average age which is below 17, and we count on them [to be part of] future national teams.”

“We hope to qualify to the second round of the qualifications,” he added.


John Cena enters Guinness Book of World Records for Make-A-Wish Foundation landmark

John Cena enters Guinness Book of World Records for Make-A-Wish Foundation landmark
Updated 29 September 2022

John Cena enters Guinness Book of World Records for Make-A-Wish Foundation landmark

John Cena enters Guinness Book of World Records for Make-A-Wish Foundation landmark
  • WWE superstar and actor honored after granting his 650th wish earlier this year

RIYADH: WWE superstar John Cena has officially entered the Guinness Book of World Records.

The multiple wrestling champion has set a new record for the most wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, by reaching 650 for their beneficiaries.

Cena’s total was called a “herculean” effort by the Guinness World Records website as no celebrity had managed more than 200.

Make-A-Wish revealed that Cena, who over the last 16 years has become a Hollywood superstar as well, is their most requested celebrity since the foundation’s inception in 1980.

Cena first worked with Make-A-Wish in 2002, and reached his landmark record on July 19, 2022.

“I will drop what I’m doing and be involved because I think that’s the coolest thing,” the 45-year-old WWE superstar said in an interview with Reuters after being honored for completing 500 wishes in 2015.

“If I can offer a fantastic experience, I’ll be first in line to do my part,” Cena added.

This isn’t the first time John Cena has had a major landmark with Make-A-Wish. He also granted the foundation’s 1,000th wish back in 2012.

Inside the ring, Cena is a 13-time WWE Champion, three-time World Heavyweight Champion, two-time WWE Tag Team Champion, two-time World Tag Team champion, five-time US Champion, two-time Royal Rumble match winner, and a 10-time Slammy Award Winner.

He is also tied with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair for the most world championship reigns in professional wrestling history.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation helps grant wishes for children aged two to 18 who have critical illnesses. The non-profit organization provides children the opportunity to meet their favorite celebrities, go to an event of their choice or grant a gift to someone else.

In 1980 a seven-year-old child Chris Greicius, who had been diagnosed with leukemia a year earlier, was granted a wish to be a policeman for a day by an officer he had befriended in Arizona.

The story inspired the creation of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which granted its first official wish to Frank “Bopsy” Salazar in 1981.