Asian martial arts network strikes Middle East broadcast deal

Special Asian martial arts network strikes Middle East broadcast deal
CEO of ONE Chatri Sityodtong. (ONE)
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Updated 17 October 2022

Asian martial arts network strikes Middle East broadcast deal

Asian martial arts network strikes Middle East broadcast deal
  • ONE Championship signs up with beIN Sports
  • CEO wants to find Saudi superstar of future

Martial arts fans are being offered the chance to watch the best of the best after the signing of a deal between beIN Sports and Asia’s premier mixed fighting network.

ONE Championship, which describes itself as Asia’s largest sports platform, said the beIN Sports deal will put all its events on screens in the Middle East and North Africa.

Chatri Sityodtong, the company’s CEO from Singapore, said it was only the first step. He plans live events in the region, the creation of training centers and martial arts schools — and ultimately the discovery of a star from Saudi Arabia.

“We are going to showcase all of our events live on beIN Sports. I’ve been visiting the Middle East quite often for work the last few years, and I see a lot of opportunity,” he said.

“I’m excited to work and show our events and build heroes in the region. I think there could be great opportunities in Saudi Arabia or Qatar, there’s a few countries in which we really see a lot of potential.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if in the coming years we’re able to create a Saudi Arabian superstar. There’s just so much opportunity because the fan base is growing in the Middle East, but there aren’t enough schools, not enough training centers.”

He said finding new talent was at the core of ONE’s mission.

“We’re looking for the very best martial artists. We host a whole bunch of different martial arts, not just MMA. We have scouts all over the world, and we’re looking for the very best future talent. So we don’t really look at which country they are from.

“We do want to find a Middle Eastern superstar, we do want to find a Saudi Arabian hero, that can inspire the whole country, but yet be a world champion on the global stage of ONE.”

Sityodtong said ONE’s popularity had exploded despite the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on live sports.

“ONE is a little over 10 years old, but we have really started growing globally. If you look at where all of our TV broadcast partners are, it’s 154 countries around the world.

“We haven’t had any events other than in Dubai eight years ago. We see a very big opportunity now.”

Mixed martial arts is a full-contact combat sport where fighters use a range of disciplines such as karate, tae kwon do and even wrestling to defeat their opponent. 

Sityodtong said ONE had a stable of international stars and talent. 

“A very exciting fighter is a muay thai world champion named Rodtang,” he said. 

“His popularity has just exploded in the last 12 to 18 months. His style is very exciting. He tries to go for a knockout every time and he’s very entertaining. He’s the best in the world. 

“Household names like Demetrious Johnson, the greatest of all time in my opinion. He’s the only man to win world titles in UFC and ONE, which is huge. No other person’s done that.

“In submission grappling, we have the greatest of all time in Buchecha,” Sityodtong said, using the nickname of the fighter Marcus Almeida.

“Anissa Meksen, she’s from France, but she has roots in Algeria. She’s the greatest female kickboxer in history.”

Sityodtong said he wanted to bring new fans to the sport. “For those of you who are already fans, you know what it is, if you’re not a fan, come watch the world’s greatest martial artists in action,” he said.

“We have the highest finish rate, KOs and submissions of any global organization in the world,” Sityodtong said. “You get mixed martial arts, you get kickboxing, muay thai, you get grappling, the world's best fighters on a single platform.”


Klopp at a loss to explain ‘unacceptable’ Liverpool form

Klopp at a loss to explain ‘unacceptable’ Liverpool form
Updated 11 sec ago

Klopp at a loss to explain ‘unacceptable’ Liverpool form

Klopp at a loss to explain ‘unacceptable’ Liverpool form
WOLVERHAMPTON, United Kingdom: Jurgen Klopp branded the goals Liverpool conceded in a 3-0 defeat to Wolves as “horrible” with the German admitting to being at a loss to explain his side’s disastrous form.
The Reds have taken just one point from their last four Premier League games to all but end any hope of catching the top four for a place in next season’s Champions League.
Klopp’s men trailed 2-0 inside 12 minutes at Molineux as Joel Matip’s own goal and Craig Dawson’s strike on his debut put Wolves on course to climb out of the relegation zone.
Ruben Neves added a third 19 minutes from time after Liverpool had dominated the early stages of the second half without reward.
“Conceding early goals is not unfamiliar to us but the way we conceded them today was not acceptable,” said Klopp.
“When you see the whole game, throughout the game in moments we played an outstanding game without scoring and a good away game without scoring.
“The third goal I don’t count because it was the first time they passed the halfway line in the second half. The other two goals, going into a game with all the things we said during the week and before the game, then this is the start, is horrible.”
Already out of both domestic cups, Liverpool sit 10th in the Premier League.
The Champions League appears to be their last chance of salvaging their season with a last 16 tie against Real Madrid to come later this month in a repeat of last season’s final.
Klopp’s side came close to winning an unprecedented quadruple of trophies last season.
But he appears incapable of stopping the rot as for the third consecutive away league game, Liverpool conceded three times.
“We better change it. That’s true, 100 percent. I have no words for it really, I’m sorry,” he added.
“You do yourself no favors in these moments, giving easy balls away.
“We were passive in the (first) two goals, everything we wanted to do was be compact and active but we were compact and passive. I can’t explain it. I think why would you do that? But they did it anyway.”

Al-Hilal beat Wydad to reach FIFA Club World Cup semi-finals

Saudi Arabia's World Cup may not have been quite as exciting but the club tournament is going to be much better
Saudi Arabia's World Cup may not have been quite as exciting but the club tournament is going to be much better
Updated 9 min 29 sec ago

Al-Hilal beat Wydad to reach FIFA Club World Cup semi-finals

Saudi Arabia's World Cup may not have been quite as exciting but the club tournament is going to be much better
  • The 5-3 penalty shootout win after 1-1 draw means the Saudi giants will now face Brazil’s Flamengo on Tuesday

RABAT: The drums rang loud for Morocco's Wydad AC on a sunny and dramatic Saturday afternoon in Rabat at the FIFA Club World Cup, but they were ultimately silenced by Al-Hilal’s Musab Al-Juwayr.

The teenage midfielder scored the final kick to win a  penalty shootout 5-3 for the Saudi Arabian giants after the game had ended 1-1. The Asian champions go through at the expense of their African counterparts to the  semi-finals and a clash with Brazil’s Flamengo. It should be quite a match if this was anything to go by.

Two hours of action packed football ended 1-1 but there was much more to it than that. A header early in the second half from Wydad's Ayoub Emloud had fans in the North African country as excited as they were during the 2022 World Cup, when Morocco reached the semi-final and became the toast of Qatar.

Saudi Arabia's World Cup may not have been quite as exciting but the club tournament is going to be much better.

One of the few times the home crowd were silenced came in added time as Yahya Jabrane, captain of the African champions, was sent off for protesting at a penalty. Mohamed Kanno fired home the resultant spot kick to send the game into extra-time during which he was also dismissed by the referee.

It was then penalties and Al-Hilal scored all theirs, while Wydad missed one.

For a long time however, it look as if the 18-time Saudi champions were going home in a clash that kept the 45,000 capacity crowd at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium entertained. The arena may be in Rabat but it certainly felt and, more importantly, sounded like a home match in Casablanca for the Moroccan powerhouse. The red wall behind the goals rarely stopped bouncing and singing to roar the team in white forward.

It seemed to work as Wydad started brightly in the opening exchanges and looked dangerous especially from set pieces with Yahya Jabrane firing over from a free-kick. 

Indeed, the pressure seemed to have paid off after 19 minutes when they thought they had taken the lead as Jalal Daoudi swept the ball home from close range. The veteran midfielder was, however, correctly adjudged to have been offside from the assistant referee.

Al-Hilal’s first real attempt on goal came after 23 minutes but Nasser Al-Dawsari sent a free-kick from a dangerous position well over the bar.

As the half progressed, Al-Hilal got into the game more though the home team continued to have better chances such as the attempt on the stroke of half-time. Wydad’s new Cameroonian forward Didier Lamkel Ze sent over a fine cross from the left but Ayoub El-Amloud was unable to get enough on it and the defender’s glancing header went wide.

Al-Hilal came close right after the restart. A Salem Al-Dawsari corner from the right fell to Ali Al-Buhali and his snap shot from close range was cleared off the line by Lamkel Ze.

In the 51st minute, Wydad’s eighth corner kick made the difference as El-Amloud rose at the far post to send a powerful header past Abdullah Al-Mayouf.

The Asian champions sprung into action but struggled to turn pressure into chances, though they came close with 20 minutes remaining when Odion Ighalo’s shot from close range was well-saved by Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti and Salem Al-Dawsari’s follow-up was blocked on the line by Amine Farhane.

Al-Hilal, who have never progressed past the semi-finals at this tournament, pushed forward in search of an equaliser and the chance came at the end of normal time as they were awarded a penalty thanks to a handball in the area. Wydad’s captain Jabrane was booked twice in quick succession and was sent off.

Amid the furore, Kanno kept his cool to slot the ball straight down the middle and suddenly the impetus had swung in favor of the Asian champions and Luciano Vietto almost won the game in the eighth minute of injury time as the Argentine’s free-kick was pushed away by the goalkeeper. 

The Riyadh giants could not get the winner before extra-time and when the game restarted they were soon reduced to 10 men themselves as Kanno was given a second yellow card for a foul.

And then it was five penalties each. After Moussa Marega scored the opener for Al-Hilal, Yahia Attiyat Allah’s shot hit both posts but did not go in and Wydad were in trouble. Vietto,  Saleh Al-Shehri and then Abdullah Al-Hamdan scored for the Riyadh club to leave substitute Al-Jawary to deliver the glory and a ticket to the last four.


Messi hits winner as PSG come from behind to beat Toulouse

Messi hits winner as PSG come from behind to beat Toulouse
Updated 30 min 52 sec ago

Messi hits winner as PSG come from behind to beat Toulouse

Messi hits winner as PSG come from behind to beat Toulouse
  • Messi then put PSG in front just before the hour mark with a glorious first-time strike
  • It was Messi's 10th Ligue 1 goal of the season and his 15th for his club this campaign

PARIS: Lionel Messi scored a superb second-half winner as a Paris Saint-Germain side missing the injured Kylian Mbappe and Neymar came from behind to beat Toulouse 2-1 on Saturday and consolidate their lead at the top of Ligue 1.
Dutch midfielder Branco van den Boomen gave mid-table Toulouse the lead at the Parc des Princes from a 20th-minute free-kick, only for Achraf Hakimi to curl in the equalizer with half-time approaching.
Messi then put PSG in front just before the hour mark with a glorious first-time strike on his left foot low into the corner of the net from just outside the area.
It was Messi’s 10th Ligue 1 goal of the season and his 15th for his club this campaign, as the World Cup winner stepped up in the absence of PSG’s two other superstar attackers.
The Qatar-owned club are now eight points clear at the top of the table from Marseille, who play Nice on Sunday and then host PSG in the French Cup last 16 in midweek.
Mbappe will miss that game and the Champions League last-16 first leg against Bayern Munich on February 14 after being ruled out for three weeks with a thigh injury suffered in the 3-1 win at Montpellier last Wednesday.
Neymar missed a second successive game here with an apparently minor adductor problem, meaning it was left to Messi to lead the attack alongside the 20-year-old Hugo Ekitike with support from Vitinha and Carlos Soler.
But Christophe Galtier’s side have other injury issues, with Sergio Ramos unable to play and Renato Sanches forced to come off in tears just 12 minutes into the game.
The Portuguese midfielder was starting for just the fifth time since joining from Lille at the start of the season.
He was replaced by teenage defender El Chadaille Bitshiabu, with Danilo Pereira moving up into the midfield, and the substitute was partly responsible when PSG fell behind.
Bitshiabu was booked for bringing down Zakaria Aboukhlal 25 meters from goal, and Van den Boomen sent the resulting free-kick low into the left corner of the net with Gianluigi Donnarumma beaten.
Messi hit the post from a corner and Toulouse had another goal disallowed for offside before the home side drew level seven minutes from half-time as Hakimi collected a Carlos Soler pass, cut in from the right flank and curled a shot on his left foot into the far corner from 20 meters.
Hakimi then turned provider as he set up Messi to make it 2-1 on 58 minutes and the outcome was rarely in doubt after that with PSG — who have had some recent wobbles — deserved winners.
Substitute Mikkel Desler did force a good save from Donnarumma deep into injury time before Messi hit the post again right at the death.
Lyon visit Troyes later before fifth-placed Rennes host Lille looking for an 11th consecutive home league win.


Pakistan cricket legend Wasim Akram ‘looking forward’ to launching Saudi cricket league

Pakistan cricket legend Wasim Akram ‘looking forward’ to launching Saudi cricket league
Updated 42 min 15 sec ago

Pakistan cricket legend Wasim Akram ‘looking forward’ to launching Saudi cricket league

Pakistan cricket legend Wasim Akram ‘looking forward’ to launching Saudi cricket league
  • Former Pakistani pacer meets chief of Kingdom’s cricket federation to discuss future of the sport
  • Top PCB official says his country is ready to share its cricketing expertise with players in the Kingdom

ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan cricket captain Wasim Akram has said he is “looking forward” to launching a cricket league in Saudi Arabia following his trip to Riyadh this week.
The Pakistani pacer issued the statement after meeting Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation Chairman Prince Saud bin Mishal to discuss the future of the sport in the Kingdom.
Akram’s visit follows a recent strengthening of cricket ties between the two countries.
Last month, Javed Afridi, who owns Pakistan Super League franchise Peshawar Zalmi, announced that his team will play exhibition matches in Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Najam Sethi also said last month that the South Asian country is willing to share its expertise in the sport with the Kingdom, where cricket’s popularity is growing rapidly.
“What a trip to Riyadh,” Akram wrote in a Facebook post this week. “Had a great meeting with H.H. Saud (bin) Mishal, talked about cricket in Saudi Arabia, and so looking forward to (starting) a Saudi league insha Allah very soon.”
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have strong economic, defense and cultural ties.
Last month, Pakistan women’s football team were runners-up in a four-nation tournament in the Kingdom.
Since its establishment in 2020, the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation has launched a series of major initiatives, including a national championship, a corporate tournament, a league for expatriate workers, and social programs in several cities.
The ruling body oversees 15 official associations representing the sport in nine regions, and has announced plans to set up additional associations in the remaining regions to ensure cricket is played across the Kingdom.
 


Haller on scoresheet after cancer battle as Union knock Bayern off top

Haller on scoresheet after cancer battle as Union knock Bayern off top
Updated 04 February 2023

Haller on scoresheet after cancer battle as Union knock Bayern off top

Haller on scoresheet after cancer battle as Union knock Bayern off top
  • Six months after a shock diagnosis which saw him miss the entire first half of the season, Haller finally opened his account for the club he joined last summer
  • The Ivory Coast international's second-half header prompted wild celebrations among his team mates

BERLIN: Sebastien Haller crowned his recent return from testicular cancer with an emotional goal for Borussia Dortmund Saturday, as Union Berlin knocked Bayern Munich off the top of the Bundesliga with a dramatic late win over Mainz.
Six months after a shock diagnosis which saw him miss the entire first half of the season, Haller finally opened his account for the club he joined last summer.
The Ivory Coast international’s second-half header prompted wild celebrations among his team mates and helped Dortmund to a 5-1 win over Freiburg which kept them within two points of leaders Union.
Freiburg were reduced to ten men early in the first half after French full-back Kiliann Sildillia was booked twice in the space of two minutes.
Former Freiburg player Nico Schlotterbeck then heaped more misery onto his old club, his low snapshot beating goalkeeper Mark Flekken at the near post to give Dortmund the lead.
Schlotterbeck and Niklas Suele handed Freiburg a lifeline with some farcical defending on the stroke of half-time, allowing Lucas Hoeler to sweep in an unexpected equalizer.
Yet Karim Adeyemi wriggled his way through the Freiburg box to restore the lead with a neat finish early in the second half, before goals from Haller, Julian Brandt and Giovanni Reyna completed the rout.
Meanwhile in the capital, Union Berlin were working on their own fairytale as a late winner from US international Jordan Siebatcheu sent the high-flying minnows top of the table.
Former Union player Marcus Ingvartsen had canceled out Kevin Behrens’ first-half opener with a late penalty, but the Berliners rallied to claim a fourth straight win in 2023.
Eintracht Frankfurt also remained within four points of the top as France forward Randal Kolo Muani ran riot in a 3-0 win over hapless Hertha Berlin.
Having put Frankfurt ahead from the penalty spot, Kolo Muani ghosted through the Hertha back line to make it 2-0 before the half-hour mark, before Aurelio Buta added a third on the stroke of full time.
RB Leipzig’s 0-0 draw at Cologne meant that Frankfurt remain a point adrift of the Champions League places in fifth.
Hertha have slumped to four straight defeats since the beginning of 2023, and are now five points adrift of safety after fellow strugglers Bochum cruised to a 5-2 win over Hoffenheim.
Philipp Hofmann gave Bochum a deserved lead with a tap-in before Philipp Foerster and Takuma Asano showed up a lifeless Hoffenheim defense to make it 3-0 by half-time.
Erhan Masovic and Moritz Broschinski added two more for Bochum after the break, with Christoph Baumgartner and Munas Dabbur grabbing consolation goals for the visitors.