As the countdown to the 30th anniversary of Raw continues, WWE Hall of Famers are set to join the celebrations on Monday evening.
Alongside a match card filled with enticing encounters, the icons of WWE will be out in force with WWE Legends including The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Kurt Angle and The Bella Twins joining the historic occasion on 23rd January.
As Roman Reigns continues his dominant streak as the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion, Reigns and his loyal following of The Bloodline will hold an official Acknowledgement Ceremony.
The Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions, The Usos will defend their titles against The Judgement Day while United States Champion, Austin Theory will take on Bobby Lashley in a title bout to determine the national champion in front of the Hall of Fame cast joining the Raw 30 celebrations.
After a war of words, Becky Lynch and Bayley will face off inside the Steel Cage to settle the score in an explosive contest adding to anniversary celebrations in Philadephia. The duo will be enclosed inside the cage without the added distraction of Bayley’s WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, Dakota Kai and IYO SKY who were banned by officials from the ringside.
WWE fans in the Middle East can tune in to the WWE RAW 30th Anniversary Special from 4 a.m. KSA on Tuesday, live and exclusively on Shahid.
World No. 2 Sabalenka knocked out of Miami Open by 74th-ranked Cirstea
The 32-year-old Romanian previously defeated No. 4 Caroline Garcia this month at Indian Wells and topped Garcia again in the second round at Miami
Updated 30 March 2023
MIAMI GARDENS, Florida: Sorana Cirstea advanced to her first semifinal of a WTA 1000 event in a decade, beating Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka 6-4, 6-4 at the Miami Open on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old Cirstea beat the highest-ranked opponent of her career by knocking off the second-ranked Sabalenka. Cirstea previously defeated No. 4 Caroline Garcia this month at Indian Wells and topped Garcia again in the second round at Miami.
“I think I’m a bit speechless,” Cirstea said. “I came out knowing that it’s going to be a really tough match. Aryna hits so hard, so I knew I had to hold my ground, and I’m very, very happy with my performance today.”
The 74th-ranked Romanian, who has two career singles titles, will face either Petra Kvitova and Ekaterina Alexandrova in the semifinals. The Kvitova-Alexandrova match had been scheduled for Wednesday night but was postponed to Thursday because of rain; also postponed was the men’s match between top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz and No. 10 Taylor Fritz.
Alexandrova advanced on Tuesday when Bianca Andreescu suffered a left ankle injury and left the court in a wheelchair. On Wednesday, the 22-year-old Andreescu tweeted that she tore two ligaments in her ankle and will be out indefinitely.
“It’s tough to say exactly how long it will take, but let’s just say it could’ve been much worse!! I’m going to take it day by day, and I am optimistic that with the right work, rehab, and preparation, I’ll be back on court soon,” the 2019 US Open champion said in her social media post.
Sabalenka had six double faults, three of them on break points, and made 21 unforced errors to just nine for Cirstea.
“I guess people like to keep count of the age, the years, the results, but I never do that. I just mind my own business, work hard, do my thing, believe in my game, work with my coach Thomas Johansson — we just started in December and so far, I think it’s going great,” Cirstea said.
In the men’s draw, 11th-ranked Jannik Sinner beat Emil Ruusuvuori 6-3, 6-1.
Silver hopeful of new NBA-union deal ahead of Friday deadline
Talks have been ongoing for more than a year ahead of the expiration of the current contract, which began in 2017, at the end of June
Updated 30 March 2023
NEW YORK: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he is hopeful of reaching a new collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union by a Friday deadline after progress in ongoing talks.
“I certainly can foresee one getting done and I hope we do get one done,” Silver said Wednesday after a two-day meeting of club owners.
“We’ve made progress. There have been a lot of issues on the table.”
The league and the National Basketball Players Association have a Friday deadline to opt out of the current deal on June 30, a deadline that has been extended twice already.
“We’ve come closer together,” Silver said. “There still is a gap, though, between I think certainly where we feel we need to be in order to get a deal done.
“Discussions have had a very positive tenor, continued the strong sense of partnership that we have with our players and the Players Association.
“I think everyone understands what’s at stake.”
Talks have been ongoing for more than a year ahead of the expiration of the current contract, which began in 2017, at the end of June. Sides would still have three months to reach a deal even if Friday’s deadline passes with no deal.
At this stage, Silver said the NBA plans to opt-out without a Friday deal, but much remains before that outcome comes to pass.
“If we don’t have a deal by this Friday night and nothing else were to happen, yes, it would be our intention to opt out of the current deal,” Silver said.
“It doesn’t therefore mean, though, that the deal will sunset at the end of June, because we’ll still have April, May and June to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement.
“I still think it would be a lost opportunity in this window... and we’re best getting this done in the next few days.”
A regional television sports network bankruptcy has impacted 16 NBA teams and higher interest rates and bank solvency issues also raise concern.
“All of those issues are in the mix when you’re negotiating a collective bargaining agreement, especially when you’re projecting out several years, which we are,” Silver said.
“I think both sides understand that this is a window of opportunity that we should try not to miss.
“The whole idea behind these early deadlines were to try to avoid going right up to the line.”
Pushing to the edge brings up the spectre of a work stoppage after reaching a record $10 billion in revenues last season.
The league has sought a hard upper salary limit and allowing players to join the NBA directly out of high school.
Tottenham official Fabio Paratici to serve worldwide ban
Paratici, a former sporting director at Juventus who has taken up a new position at Tottenham, was handed the longest ban of 2½ years by the Italian soccer federation
Updated 30 March 2023
MANCHESTER, England: Tottenham managing director of football Fabio Paratici will serve a worldwide ban for his part in a false accounting scandal involving Juventus, FIFA said Wednesday.
Italy’s most famous soccer team was hit with a 15-point penalty in January and bans were handed out to a number of its officials, including former president Andrea Agnelli and former CEO Maurizio Arrivabene.
Paratici, who had already left his role as sporting director and taken up a new position at Tottenham, was handed the longest ban of 2½ years by the Italian soccer federation. That has now been extended worldwide.
“FIFA can confirm that following a request by the Italian FA (FIGC), the Chairperson of FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee has decided to extend the sanctions imposed by FIGC on several football officials to have worldwide effect,” the governing body said.
The decision will have a significant impact on Tottenham at a time when the Premier League club is conducting a search for a new manager following the departure of Antonio Conte.
Conte, who is Italian, left the London club by “mutual agreement” on Sunday, just over a week after a post-match outburst in which he criticized the players and made withering comments about Tottenham’s ownership.
Paratici would have been expected to play a key role in identifying and hiring Conte’s successor, with former Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann among the names linked with the job.
On Tuesday, Paratici spoke about Conte’s exit and of his determination to see Tottenham have a successful end to the season.
“We will fight to achieve our targets. We are prepared to fight until the end of the season,” Paratici said. “Everyone has to be focused on the last part of the season.”
Prosecutors had been investigating since 2021 whether Juventus cashed in on illegal commissions from transfer and loans of players. Juventus said at the start of the coronavirus pandemic that 23 players agreed to reduce their salary for four months to help the club through the crisis. But prosecutors claim the players gave up only one month’s salary.
Juventus, who deny wrongdoing, have appealed the 15-point penalty to Italy’s highest sports court within the Italian Olympic Committee, known as CONI. An appeal hearing at CONI is slated for April 19.
On Monday, the club’s lawyers appeared before a judge to face the first in a series of court dates. The hearing was postponed until May 10 for administrative reasons.
Agnelli and 11 others face charges of false communications by a company listed publicly on the Milan stock exchange, obstructing watchdog agencies, false billing and market manipulation.
Barcelona, Arsenal advance into Women’s Champions League semifinals
Fridolina Rolfo scored twice in the first half for Barcelona and Mapi Leon added another to make it 3-0 by the break
Updated 30 March 2023
BARCELONA: Barcelona cruised into the last four of the Women’s Champions League for the fifth straight year by routing Roma 5-1 in the second leg of the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Arsenal also advanced after beating Bayern Munich 2-0 at Emirates Stadium in London to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg and end the German side’s 14-match winning streak in all competitions.
Barcelona advanced 6-1 on aggregate and will face defending champions Lyon or Chelsea in April’s semifinals. Arsenal will play Paris Saint-Germain or Wolfsburg.
Fridolina Rolfo scored twice in the first half for Barcelona and Mapi Leon added another to make it 3-0 by the break. Asizat Oshoala and Patri Guijarro scored two more shortly after interval before Annamaria Serturini netted a consolation goal for Roma.
After winning the opening leg 1-0 at Stadio Olimpico in Rome in front of a record-setting crowd of 39,454, Barcelona dominated from the start at Camp Nou.
Oshoala knocked down a cross for unmarked Rolfo in the 11th minute to fire home a low shot from 10 meters (yards) to double the aggregate lead.
Some 20 minutes later, Leon unleashed an unstoppable left-foot drive from well outside the area that gave diving Roma goalkeeper Camelia Ceasar no chance.
In first-half stoppage time, Caroline Graham Hansen broke down the right to provide a precise cross for Rolfo at the far post to tap in her second.
Just seconds in the second half, Aitana Bonmatí presented another perfectly timed cross from the right for Oshoala to make it 4-0 from close range. And minutes later, Guijarro headed in Hansen’s corner for the fifth.
Arsenal suffered an early blow when captain Kim Little had to be substituted soon after the kickoff due to an injury but then scored twice in a six-minute span in the first half to turn things around.
Pressuring their opponent, Arsenal won the ball back inside Bayern’s half and played a series of quick passes to tee up Frida Maanum, who drove a shot from just outside the area into the roof of the net to put the hosts 1-0 ahead in the 20th minute.
Six minutes later, Katie McCabe set up the second with a cross from the left for Stina Blackstenius to head in the decisive goal and send Arsenal into the semis for the first time in 10 years.
Arsenal then wasted a string of clear scoring chances in both halves to stretch the advantage.
The English club has won its last six home matches in all competitions without conceding a goal.
From streets of Cairo to the biggest Arab clubs: The rise of Ramadan football tournaments
From humble beginnings among groups of soccer-loving friends the contests have become more organized and professional, even attracting the attention of major sponsors
‘These matches were initially played on the streets, on cold, hard asphalt, but around the year 2000, youth centers started to host them on well-equipped pitches,’ said one organizer
Updated 30 March 2023
CAIRO: For more than 25 years, football tournaments have been among the most popular of the special events in Egypt associated with the holy month of Ramadan.
They began when groups of friends would gather together to organize matches so that they could indulge their passion for the game and show off their skills. But as the years have passed they have become more organized and professional, in some cases even attracting the attention of major sponsors.
The growth of these Ramadan soccer competitions can be traced back through the years to humble beginnings in the neighborhoods of Cairo before they expanded to other parts of the country and then elsewhere in the Arab world. Along the way, they moved from the streets to youth centers and, eventually, major sports clubs.
“The Ramadan football tournaments first started in the streets of the capital, where players had to be self-reliant,” Mohammed El-Sayed, a sports journalist with Egyptian newspaper Akhbar El-Youm, told Arab News.
“Youths from different regions would organize their own teams and rounds within each region. They took the streets as their stadium and there were no uniforms involved; the team unity alone was enough.
“In the past, Ramadan football tournaments were always played immediately before iftar. Young people took advantage of the quiet streets at that time to hold matches, while children and young adults gathered around to watch them as a form of entertainment.”
Hatem Hussein, also known as Mizo, is one of the best-known players who took part in Ramadan tournaments during the 1990s.
“I was playing in the streets (back then) and we were all very eager to play … the competition was strong,” he said. “We always adopted the knockout matches method: The team that eliminated all its competitors until the end of the tournament would be considered the winner.
“The prizes were symbolic and reflective of the entry fee that the teams paid at the beginning. Second and third place both took home a complete sports kit.”
Karim Al-Bibani, an organizer of Ramadan tournaments in the Abdeen area, near the center of Cairo, said: “These matches were initially played on the streets of Cairo, on the cold, hard asphalt, but around the year 2000, youth centers started to host them on well-equipped pitches.
“In part, this was a result of the large number of housing units that were being built, which left little or no space for playing football on the streets.
“The tournaments have now moved to youth centers because of their good playgrounds, strong lighting and better capabilities. These centers organize the tournament and are responsible for it, financially.”
As the popularity of the seasonal competitions grew and spread, it was no surprise that established football clubs wanted to get in on the act.
“In the past 15 years, Ramadan tournaments began to move to major clubs, and a number of great players who had retired from their clubs began to play in these tournaments,” said sports journalist El-Sayed. In particular, an increase in the number of five-a-side pitches with artificial grass that were being built helped to fuel this trend, he added.
“The participation of the retired players is the reason Ramadan tournaments started to expand outside Egypt,” El-Sayed said.
As a result of these popular veteran stars taking part, in recent years Ramadan tournaments have increasingly become big business, attracting lucrative sponsorship deals, said journalist Mahmoud Essam
“For the big clubs, sponsorship will be at a higher level, including real estate and mobile phone companies, among others,” he said. “These sponsorships depend on having big names participating in these tournaments.”