Saudi Arabia in talks to host 2030 World Cup finals

Saudi Arabia in talks to host 2030 World Cup finals
Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City stadium has hosted several matches. (AFP)
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Updated 10 September 2022

Saudi Arabia in talks to host 2030 World Cup finals

Saudi Arabia in talks to host 2030 World Cup finals
  • Joint bid with Egypt and Greece faces rival applications from South America and Europe

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is in talks with sports chiefs in Egypt and Greece over an audacious joint bid to host the 2030 football World Cup finals.
“The three countries are working flat out” and “the application to organize the tournament is being studied,” Mohammed Fawzi, spokesman for the Egyptian Sports Ministry, said on Friday.
Egypt had hosted many world championships in the past three years, Fawzi said, and was well qualified to stage football’s premier tournament.
A source at Greece’s Hellenic Football Federation in Athens confirmed that the three countries were holding discussions about a joint bid.
If the bid is successful, the tournament would take place in the winter of 2030 to avoid the extreme summer heat, as with this year’s World Cup finals in Qatar in November and December.
The bid will face competition from at least two other joint proposals. Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay launched a bid in early August to host the 2030 World Cup, while Spain and Portugal announced their joint candidacy last year.
The joint South American bid aims to stage the 2030 final in the same Centenario stadium in Montevideo that hosted the first final 100 years earlier. World football’s governing body FIFA will select a host for the 2030 tournament in 2024.
Hosting major international sporting events, including European club football and boxing world title bouts, is a key part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 development strategy.


Pulisic ‘day-to-day’ after Iran World Cup injury: US Soccer

Pulisic ‘day-to-day’ after Iran World Cup injury: US Soccer
Updated 9 sec ago

Pulisic ‘day-to-day’ after Iran World Cup injury: US Soccer

Pulisic ‘day-to-day’ after Iran World Cup injury: US Soccer
DOHA: Christian Pulisic suffered a “pelvic contusion” during the USA’s World Cup victory over Iran but has vowed to be fit for his team’s last 16 clash with the Netherlands.
A US Soccer spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday that the Chelsea forward, who was injured while scoring the only goal in the 1-0 win over Iran, was regarded as “day-to-day” fitness-wise.
“USMNT forward Christian Pulisic has been diagnosed with a pelvic contusion and his status is day-to-day,” US Soccer said.
Pulisic was taken to hospital as a precaution following the incident that led to his injury but was back at the US team hotel to greet his team-mates following the Group B win on Tuesday.
In a photo posted on social media on Tuesday, Pulisic said he expected to play against the Netherlands on Saturday, when the Americans will attempt to reach the quarter-finals.
“I’ll be ready for Saturday, don’t worry,” a jubilant Pulisic wrote.
US midfielder Weston McKennie said on Tuesday that Pulisic had indicated he would be fit to start against the Dutch.
“I sent him a text and checked on him, and he said, ‘Best believe I’ll be ready’,” said McKennie.
Pulisic’s winner against the Iranians came as he threw his body into a tangle of defenders to jab home Sergino Dest’s headed cross.
“Obviously we’re very thankful that he threw his body there,” McKennie said.
“It was a heart-drop sinking moment, but we got it done and we’re excited to still be here.”

Dubai Creek Mile at Meydan heads stellar week for UAE race fans

Dubai Creek Mile at Meydan heads stellar week for UAE race fans
Updated 23 min 19 sec ago

Dubai Creek Mile at Meydan heads stellar week for UAE race fans

Dubai Creek Mile at Meydan heads stellar week for UAE race fans
  • The first thoroughbred Listed race of the season, the Dubai Creek Mile, has two Group 1 winners in it
  • Other events in Al-Ain on Friday, Jebel Ali on Saturday, Abu Dhabi’s Jewel Crown fixture Sunday

DUBAI: The card for this week’s horse racing at Meydan Racecourse in the UAE is nothing short of outstanding for the time of year.
The first thoroughbred Listed race of the season, the Dubai Creek Mile, has two Group 1 winners in it, plus a host of horses that could stamp their mark on Dubai World Cup night.
Sixth in the 2021 Dubai World Cup when last seen, the talented and popular Military Law trained away last season without making a race for trainer Musabbeh Al-Mheiri and owner Nasir Askar.
And he will need to be fit to win, facing a Uruguayan Group 1 winner in Atletico El Culano, plus Golden Goal, who must give 2 kilograms to the field because of his Group 2 win last season. Another strong contender will be Capezzano, a Group 1 winner returning after almost one year off and tipped to be back to his best.
The card also has a strong three-year-old rated conditions event, race six, which sees the return of last year’s G3 UAE 2000 Guineas winner Azure Coast. The horse has had a remarkable career, starting in Russia, before winning two of three starts in the UAE last season, returning to Moscow with a win in September, and now traveling back to Dubai.
This time he will be with his Russian jockey Myrzabek Kappushev up against a tough field including UAE Derby fourth-place finisher Bendoog, one of the biggest horses in training at the yard of champion trainer Bhupat Seemar.
Racing fans in the UAE are in for a treat at the weekend, with four meetings, including Al-Ain on Friday, Jebel Ali on Saturday, and the Jewel Crown fixture at Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
One of the richest purebred Arabian races in the world, the $1.36 million Jewel Crown has attracted a top international cast, including 2021 heroine Lady Princess.
Trained in France by Thomas Fourcy, the six-year-old is the best Arabian in the world despite her tiny size, having won her last five races, all at Group 1 level.
She has a talented bunch of rivals to beat, however, including Dubai Kahayla Classic winner First Class, and Izadi Star, winner of both his starts at Abu Dhabi before running some creditable efforts in Group 1s in France.
The card’s thoroughbred race is the Listed National Day Cup, which sees the return of last season’s G1 Jebel Hatta winner Alfareeq, as well as the talented Haqeeqy, and Moqtarreb, winner of the race in 2021.
All of these carry the silks of Shadwell, run by Sheikha Hissa Hamdan Al-Maktoum, who will be hoping her operation’s excellent European season, spearheaded by the remarkable Baaeed, will continue into her home country.
 


Seventh edition of the PIF Saudi Open gets underway next week

Seventh edition of the PIF Saudi Open gets underway next week
Updated 19 min 58 sec ago

Seventh edition of the PIF Saudi Open gets underway next week

Seventh edition of the PIF Saudi Open gets underway next week
  • Participation in the tournament will be open to ADT players, as well as professional and amateur golf players in the Middle East and North Africa who are registered with a golf club
  • Majed Al-Sorour: I am especially proud of how each edition provides Saudi and Arab golf players the opportunity to participate in a top tier competition in their home country

RIYADH: The Asian Development Tour (ADT) arrives in Saudi Arabia, for the first time, next week, with the playing of the seventh edition of the PIF Saudi Open, Dec. 8 — 10, at Golf Saudi managed Riyadh Golf Club.

The ADT event will see a prize fund of $200,000 up for grabs. Participation in the tournament will be open to ADT players, as well as professional and amateur golf players in the Middle East and North Africa who are registered with a golf club. 

As a result of Golf Saudi entering a 10-year partnership with the Asian Tour, the tournament is expected to receive wide interest from golf fans inside and outside the Kingdom. The fact that the PIF Saudi Open is being played on the ADT for the first time is confirmation of the strengthening of ties between the Asian Tour and Golf Saudi. Particularly as the 2023 edition of the $5 million PIF Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers has now officially become the opening event on the Asian Tour’s annual calendar. 

The PIF Saudi Open will also see the participation of a raft of up and coming players from the GCC and Arab countries, in addition to Saudi Arabia’s growing home talents from the National Team, who have all gone from strength to strength in recent years, as part of Golf Saudi wider Mass Participation program to grow the game of golf in the Kingdom. 

Majed Al-Sorour, Deputy Chairman and CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said: “All of us at both the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi are incredibly excited about next week’s seventh edition of the PIF Saudi Open. Each and every year we host the tournament, it gets bigger and better. I am especially proud of how each edition provides Saudi and Arab golf players the opportunity to participate in a top tier competition in their home country and be able to not only develop their skill levels but also to test themselves and go head-to-head against players from different countries in the Middle East, North Africa and now the Asian Development Tour in a competitive environment.” 

Managed by Golf Saudi and playing to a par of 72, Riyadh Golf Club is 20 minutes from Riyadh. The course, opened in 2005, is known for its undulating terrain, wide fairways and manicured greens. 

Al-Sorour continued: “By hosting tournaments such as the PIF Saudi Open, we hope to encourage and facilitate greater uptake in the game and offer our elite golfers the chance to compete against the very best. So, thanks must go to our strategic partners the Asian Tour for helping us to achieve that aim, as their involvement will mean the strongest player field in the PIF Saudi Open’s history.” 

The tournament, which kicks off on the 8th December will witness the participation of the most prominent Saudi players, including the first and only Saudi professional player Othman Almulla, along with other National Team players: Abdulrahman Al-Mansour, Faisal Salhab and Saud Al-Sharif. A lot will be at stake for those players competing, as the PIF Saudi Open also represents a qualification opportunity for the 2023 PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers, which will be held next February. 


Iran World Cup loss sparks despair — and joy from regime critics

Iran World Cup loss sparks despair — and joy from regime critics
Updated 30 November 2022

Iran World Cup loss sparks despair — and joy from regime critics

Iran World Cup loss sparks despair — and joy from regime critics
  • Iranian gaming journalist Saeed Zafarany: ‘Who would’ve ever thought I’d jump three meters and celebrate America’s goal!’
  • Danish journalist Rasmus Tantholdt said that he was briefly detained by Qatari security forces after filming pro-regime fans attacking supporters of the Iranian protest movement

NICOSIA: For Iranians, their football team’s World Cup loss against the United States was cause for either sadness or exuberant joy, depending on where they stand on a two-month-old protest movement.
Caught between the clerical regime and calls to show solidarity with protesters, the national team pressed near-relentlessly in the second half on Tuesday night but were unable to cancel out a 38th minute opener by the US, resulting in an early exit.
That prompted the extraordinary spectacle of Iranians cheering a defeat inflicted by the Islamic republic’s arch-enemy often labelled the “Great Satan.”
“Who would’ve ever thought I’d jump three meters and celebrate America’s goal!” tweeted Iranian gaming journalist Saeed Zafarany.
Inside Iran, celebrations were especially marked in western Kurdistan province, the cradle of a movement sparked by the death of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in morality police custody after her arrest for allegedly infringing the nation’s strict dress code for women.
A video shared online by Kurdish activist Kaveh Ghoreishi showed a Sanandaj city neighborhood at night with sounds of cheering and horns blaring after the United States scored.
That goal also prompted joy in Amini’s hometown of Saqez, according to the London-based news website Iran Wire, which published images showing fireworks and sounds of people cheering.
Protesters also set off fireworks in Mahabad, Kurdistan, following Iran’s loss, according to videos shared online, while Norway-based Hengaw human rights group also reported celebrations there and in the city of Marivan.
The scenes of joy were not confined to Kurdistan province, reflecting the nationwide nature of the protest movement.
Videos on social media showed citizens celebrating in the capital Tehran and Ardabil, Mashhad, Kerman and Zahedan — many with people dancing and cheering in the streets amid long traffic jams.
It was a very different story in a hall in Tehran, where hundreds gathered to unreservedly cheer on their team — including women, in a country where they often have difficulty accessing stadiums.
“I’m so sad that Iran couldn’t defeat the USA but anyway we are proud of our national team and its players,” said Ali, a retiree. “They did their best and we are not angry with them.”
In Qatar itself, supporters of the US and Iran mingled cordially before the crunch game.
Crowds with the Stars and Stripes and the red, green and white colors of Iran’s flag talked largely freely as they entered Al Thumama Stadium.
Inside the ground, female Iranian fans sat — and often stood — proudly cheering their team without headscarves, some with the national flag daubed on their faces.
Iran’s players, after refusing to sing the national anthem for their opening game against England in a gesture of solidarity with the protests, reversed that stance for their second game with Wales, resulting in opprobrium in some quarters.
Players again voiced the anthem, albeit with little enthusiasm, for what turned out to be Iran’s final game.
They now go home to a country that remains on edge, as authorities crack down on the mainly peaceful protests that have become the biggest challenge to the regime since its birth in 1979.
After Iran’s victory over Wales, the judiciary announced the release of more than 1,100 detainees, including protesters, among them former national goalkeeper Parviz Boroumand.
Emblematic of the divisions, an AFP video showed scuffles breaking out among pro- and anti-regime Iranians outside the stadium after the US match.
The footage showed a woman wearing a T-shirt with the protest slogan “Woman, life, freedom” being harassed by Iranian men as she gave a televised interview.
A Danish journalist said he was briefly detained after filming pro-regime fans attacking supporters of the Iranian protest movement.
Rasmus Tantholdt of TV2 Denmark tweeted that Qatari security forces had instructed him to erase the footage but he refused to do so.
Iranian supporters have had run-ins with security for sporting clothing bearing images of Amini or the words “Woman, life, freedom” in Qatar which, unlike most other Gulf states, maintains cordial relations with Tehran.
Iran says more than 300 people have been killed since the protests erupted, but Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights says at least 448 people have been killed by the security forces in the ongoing protest crackdown.


John Herdman wants to remain as Canada coach through 2026

John Herdman wants to remain as Canada coach through 2026
Updated 30 November 2022

John Herdman wants to remain as Canada coach through 2026

John Herdman wants to remain as Canada coach through 2026
  • "You'll not find one as passionate who wants to take the country to that next level,” Herdman said
  • In the World Cup for the first time since 1986, Canada lost their opening match 1-0 despite outplaying Belgium

DOHA: John Herdman wants to remain as Canada’s coach through the 2026 World Cup in North America after leading the nation to their return to soccer’s top tournament.
“Eleven years of work in this country and I’ve been pioneering for a long period of time, and you’ll not find anyone as passionate as I am about this program or about these players or about this staff,” Herdman said Wednesday.
“You’ll not find one as passionate who wants to take the country to that next level. And you’ll not meet anyone that’s experienced this moment with this team — and the learning that I’ll take from this to take into the next one.”
In the World Cup for the first time since 1986, Canada lost their opening match 1-0 despite outplaying Belgium, then took a second-minute lead against Croatia before losing 4-1 and getting eliminated. The Canadians close against Morocco on Thursday.
Herdman, a 47-year-old from Britain, coached New Zealand’s women’s team from 2006-11 and Canada’s women from 2011-18, winning Olympic bronze medals in 2012 and 2016.
He took over the Canadian men in 2018 and led them to first place in qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Herdman was especially proud of the way Canada played against Belgium.
“Thierry Henry told me this team played them off the park,” Herdman said of the former French star, now an assistant to Belgium coach Roberto Martinez. “I’ll take that, because if that’s our foundation, we got a great four years ahead, and I can’t wait to get after it.”
Herdman sees part of the team’s mission as increasing the sport’s prominence in Canada. Alphonso Davies’ goal was Canada’s first in five World Cup games, and Herdman hopes the nation will get their first win against Morocco, which are contending for a spot in the knockout stage.
Canada will co-host the 2026 World Cup with the United States and Mexico, staging games in Toronto and Vancouver, British Columbia. Canadian soccer officials hope this year’s World Cup and the build-up to the next spark increased youth interest in the sport.
“It’s those kids and those schools that will keep believing that Canada is a football country,” Herdman said, “because they’ve seen that Belgium game, they’ve seen Davies score against Croatia and they know we are — I nearly said it, yeah, we’re a football country. We’re there. And you can’t deny that. No one can.”