Lazio fan wearing ‘Hitlerson’ shirt among 3 banned for life

Lazio fan wearing ‘Hitlerson’ shirt among 3 banned for life
Lazio’s Mattia Zaccagni celebrates with fans after their Serie A match against AS Roma at Stadio Olimpico, Rome on Mar.19, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 22 March 2023

Lazio fan wearing ‘Hitlerson’ shirt among 3 banned for life

Lazio fan wearing ‘Hitlerson’ shirt among 3 banned for life
  • Two other fans of the Roman club were also banned for life for performing Roman salutes
  • Lazio said the three fans “have nothing to do" with supporting the club and “have shown forms of discrimination and antisemitism”

ROME: A fan wearing a shirt with a reference to Adolf Hitler was banned for life from attending Lazio matches by the Roman club on Wednesday.
Authorities reviewed security camera footage from inside the Stadio Olimpico after pictures of the fan wearing a Lazio shirt with the name “Hitlerson” and the No. 88 — which is a numerical code for “Heil Hitler” — circulated on social media following Lazio’s 1-0 win over Roma in the city derby on Sunday.
Two other fans of the Roman club were also banned for life for performing Roman salutes, which are associated with fascism.
Lazio said the three fans “have nothing to do” with supporting the club and “have shown forms of discrimination and antisemitism.”
The Italian league is still reviewing the behavior of Lazio fans during the derby.
The club were already ordered to play a game with part of the Stadio Olimpico closed to spectators after fans directed racist chants at Lecce defender Samuel Umtiti and winger Lameck Banda, who are both Black.
Lazio fans have a long history of discriminatory behavior and the club have been hit with numerous sanctions both in Serie A and Europe.
Lazio are in second place in Serie A and in position to qualify for next season’s Champions League.


Saudi firm sponsors Newcastle United in £25m-a-year deal

Saudi firm sponsors Newcastle United in £25m-a-year deal
Updated 10 June 2023

Saudi firm sponsors Newcastle United in £25m-a-year deal

Saudi firm sponsors Newcastle United in £25m-a-year deal
  • Magpies announced the record-breaking deal on Friday as they launched their new kit for the 2023/24 Premier League and Champions League campaigns

NEWCASTLE: Saudi company Sela has been announced as Newcastle United’s new front of shirt sponsor in a multi-year deal worth around £25 million ($31.4 million) a year to the club.

The Magpies announced the record-breaking deal on Friday as they launched their new kit for the 2023/24 Premier League and Champions League campaigns. 

Sports event agency Sela, which describes itself as “the driving force behind a wide range of spectacular events, iconic destinations, and attractions in the Middle East”, replaces Chinese betting firm Fun88.

The deal dwarfs the near £6 million-a-year agreement with Fun88, and further strengthens the club’s Saudi connections, with Noon the club’s sleeve sponsor again next season. While the length of the deal was not disclosed, it is widely expected to make Newcastle upwards of £100 million over the contract.

Ibrahim Mohtaseb, Senior Vice President at Sela, said: “This partnership is about Sela being part of the next chapter for the club.

“It’s about us supporting the men’s, women’s and academy teams. And it’s about bringing to life world-class experiences, which is at the heart of what we do as a company.

“For Sela, it all started with football more than 25 years ago. Today, we have grown into a multi-faceted company creating experiences that millions of people enjoy each year, across a range of sport, entertainment, hospitality and retail settings. Now we are embarking on the next stage of our international growth.

“Where we can put our resources and innovation to good use for the benefit of fans, the club and the wider communities it serves, we will do so.”

The club’s new home shirt, a nod to the retro kit worn by club legend Kevin Keegan in the 1980s, is set to go on sale online and at the club shop from Saturday.

News is still awaited on the away and third kits, however Arab News has been told one of those will be a reverse of the third kit from this campaign, described by many as the “Saudi strip.” Instead of white with green trim, this will instead be reversed, a near exact copy of Saudi Arabia’s main kit.

The Sela deal was approved by the Premier League, which ruled that the price was fair and there were no concerns over the company’s links to Newcastle’s Saudi owners PIF.

Darren Eales, CEO at Newcastle United, said: “We are delighted to welcome Sela. This partnership follows a highly competitive commercial process.

“We team up at an exciting time in the history of both organizations. Both share an ambitious vision to expand their brands globally.

“Fan engagement is central to what we do at Newcastle United and in Sela, we are partnering with an organization with shared interests.

“Closer to home, we will work closely on the design and operation of a new fan zone area at St. James’ Park, taking inspiration from Sela’s incredible properties elsewhere.”

Peter Silverstone, Newcastle United’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “Sela joins us on our exciting journey back into the UEFA Champions League, enabling us to reach and engage with an even greater global audience together. 

“We are proud to put their brand at the front and center of our next stage of growth as an elite global Premier League club.

“We believe they will market our club and brand accordingly, boosting our aim to be the most supported Premier League club in Saudi Arabia – a country with a young, digitally savvy population that is hugely passionate about football.”


Messi Mania sets off social media, ticketing boom

Messi Mania sets off social media, ticketing boom
Updated 09 June 2023

Messi Mania sets off social media, ticketing boom

Messi Mania sets off social media, ticketing boom
  • Inter Miami's followers on Instagram have quintupled since the former Barcelona great revealed on Wednesday that he would be heading to the Major League Soccer club
  • Inter though remains the second most popular Miami team on social media with the NBA's Miami Heat having 27 million followers on all platforms

MIAMI, USA: Lionel Messi has yet to put pen to paper on his impending deal with Inter Miami but already massive interest in the Argentine’s move is driving huge numbers in social media, ticket sales and more.
Inter Miami’s followers on Instagram have quintupled since the former Barcelona great revealed on Wednesday that he would be heading to the Major League Soccer club.
On Wednesday morning, Inter’s account had around 900,000 followers, a number which had already grown amidst rumors of Messi’s possible arrival.
Less than 24 hours after the news broke, that number had skyrocketed to 6.9 million followers at the time of publishing.
That total is more than double the followers of the NFL’s Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs and even surpasses the 4.5 million enjoyed by ‘America’s team’, the Dallas Cowboys.
Indeed, it is higher than all NFL, Major League Baseball and NHL teams and bigger than more than 75 percent of NBA teams.
Inter Miami now has over 7.5M followers across all social platforms and added more than five million new followers on the day of the announcement.
Inter though remains the second most popular Miami team on social media with the NBA’s Miami Heat having 27 million followers on all platforms.
There are plenty more Messi fans who might be tempted to engage with the club’s content — the player has 469 million followers of his personal instagram account.
That figure makes him the second most popular sportsperson on Instagram, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo who has 588 million.
News of Messi’s decision also hugely impacted the ticket market for MLS games.
Ticketing technology company Logitix analyzed ticket demand across the league in the 24 hours since Messi’s announcement and found there were four-times the number of tickets sold on the secondary market for Inter Miami matches (home and away) compared to the entire on-sale period of 169 days previous.
The average purchase price for Inter Miami home matches increased from $31 to $152 while for away games they increased from $94 to $207.
The largest increase was for Inter Miami’s game against Charlotte FC on August 20 — with average sale prices rocketing from $18 to $169.
The average asking price for tickets for the club’s League Cup match at Mexican team Cruz Azul on July 21 increased from $24 to $521.
Those numbers are sure to lead to MLS teams considering moving games featuring Messi to bigger stadiums.
Many MLS teams now play at purpose built venues holding 20-25,000 and the giant NFL arenas in most cities would offer around triple the capacity.
Miami and MLS are, however, banking on Messi’s massive public appeal and the hunger for content about the player, his performances and his life, bringing more than just social media numbers and bumper attendances.
While Messi’s contract has yet to be finalized and no details have been made public, MLS signed a 10-year deal with Apple TV, which began this season and that is likely to be an element in his contract.
Apple TV this week announced a four-part documentary series about Messi which was filmed in Paris, Qatar and Argentina, following his journey to December’s World Cup win.
Messi gave exclusive access to the film-makers and with Apple having created an entire platform for MLS content there is clearly room for plenty of programming about his time in America.
The seven-times Ballon d’Or winner signed a lifetime endorsement deal with sportswear manufacturer Adidas in 2017 and the German company are likely to also cash-in on the player’s arrival in a league where they are the exclusive kit provider to Miami and all the teams.


Guardiola says Man City ready to banish memory of 2021 Champions League final

Guardiola says Man City ready to banish memory of 2021 Champions League final
Updated 09 June 2023

Guardiola says Man City ready to banish memory of 2021 Champions League final

Guardiola says Man City ready to banish memory of 2021 Champions League final
  • City were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea in Porto in the club's only previous appearance to date in the final of Europe's elite club competition
  • "I am pretty sure that two years ago what we planned, what we had in mind, was to have success against Chelsea," Guardiola said on Friday

ISTANBUL: Pep Guardiola insisted Friday his Manchester City side are primed to put their defeat in the 2021 Champions League final behind them for good as they seek to win the trophy when they take on Inter Milan in Istanbul on Saturday.
City were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea in Porto in the club’s only previous appearance to date in the final of Europe’s elite club competition.
Guardiola came in for criticism then for tinkering with what had been a winning team, as he surprisingly omitted captain Fernandinho and Rodrigo from the base of his midfield.
“I am pretty sure that two years ago what we planned, what we had in mind, was to have success against Chelsea. It didn’t work and that is why all the people said the decision was wrong,” Guardiola said on Friday just before his team trained on the pitch at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium.
“Tomorrow will be the same, have a plan, have an idea and communicate to the players. We are ready.”
That match also ended bitterly for Kevin De Bruyne, as City’s Belgian playmaker came off in tears after being taken out in a collision with Chelsea defender Antonio Ruediger.
“We were not good enough on the day and you have to accept it,” De Bruyne said on Friday. “Luckily we have another chance, another opportunity to prove we can win this competition.”
City are looking to complete a remarkable treble by winning the Champions League for the first time in their history, after retaining the Premier League title and then beating Manchester United 2-1 in last weekend’s FA Cup final thanks to two Ilkay Gundogan goals.
They are the overwhelming favorites to complete the job against Inter, having seen off RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, all in comprehensive fashion, in this season’s knockout rounds.
The goals of Erling Haaland, who has scored 52 in all competitions since joining City from Borussia Dortmund, have helped elevate Guardiola’s side to new heights this season.
The Norwegian did not score in either leg of the semifinal against Madrid and has not found the net in his last four appearances, which constitutes a veritable goal drought for such a prolific player.
De Bruyne, who has enjoyed providing goals for Haaland this season, jokingly denied that it was a case of love at first sight between the two, as he expressed hope the striker will be back on form against Inter.
“I am happy with my wife,” he replied when asked about the chemistry between them.
“Sometimes you have a feeling with a player, you understand what he wants and he understands what I want or what I can do.
“It just clicked really well and he started scoring at an incredible rate. That helps and it settled him really easily in the team. Hopefully he can do what he needs to do tomorrow.”
De Bruyne is nevertheless aware that City may need to be patient against an obstinate Inter side who have exceeded all expectations in reaching a first Champions League final in 13 years.
“We understand what Inter is,” he said.
“They defend incredibly well. We don’t expect it to be an open game. That doesn’t happen a lot in a final anyway.”


Erling Haaland on the brink of achieving lifelong dream of Champions League glory

Erling Haaland on the brink of achieving lifelong dream of Champions League glory
Updated 50 min 20 sec ago

Erling Haaland on the brink of achieving lifelong dream of Champions League glory

Erling Haaland on the brink of achieving lifelong dream of Champions League glory
  • Norwegian star has scored 36 goals in Premier League, 12 times in 10 Champions League in his first season at the Etihad
  • Haaland has had an incredible debut season with the Etihad outfit, scoring a record-breaking 52 goals

LONODN: Ever since he watched Manchester United overcome Chelsea on penalties in the 2008 final, Erling Haaland has been in love with the Champions League.
So much so that the striker was caught on video listening to the tournament’s anthem in his car while at Red Bull Salzburg and also used it as his wake-up alarm.
Haaland dreamed of playing and scoring in the competition — and winning it.
Manchester City bought the 22-year-old last summer from Borussia Dortmund for £52 million ($65 million) and tasked him to help them finally win European football’s biggest prize, having won every major domestic trophy.
“I have been coming here for a reason,” said Haaland.
But in a surprising confession, he says he feels “pressure” to help deliver that elusive first success — craved by the club’s Abu Dhabi owners since their 2008 takeover.
The Norwegian has had an incredible debut season with the Etihad outfit, scoring a record-breaking 52 goals.
Having helped City win the Premier League for a third successive campaign, Haaland was seen shouting “one more” when the side beat Manchester United 2-1 in last weekend’s FA Cup final at Wembley.
That one more is the Champions League, with Saturday’s final against three-time winners Inter Milan giving an opportunity for City to become only the 10th European club to win such a treble.
The victors would also get a place in the FIFA Club World Cup, to be held in Saudi Arabia in December, and Haaland said: “It would mean everything, of course (to win it).
“Of course I feel pressure. I would lie if I said I didn’t. You say it yourself and it’s true — they won the Premier League without me, they won every trophy without me,” he said. “So I’m here to try to do a thing that the club has never done before and I’ll do my best.”
Haaland says he did not consider this scenario at the start of the season.
“But, again, when you look at the team, how close they’ve been with every single trophy every single season, it’s not like it’s been not possible.
“We have been believing in ourselves ever since I came here. Just one game left — I don’t know what more to say. We have to play at our best to really have a chance.”
Haaland says he had belief in his ability even when he missed chances and failed to score on his debut in the FA Community Shield back in August as Liverpool beat City 3-1.
Immediately he came under scrutiny and questions were asked how he could complement a side that had won four Premier League titles in four of the previous five seasons.
The same was said of Jack Grealish, who has now flourished after a difficult opening season following his $126 million move from Aston Villa.
With a hearty laugh and a nod to their contrasting fortunes, Haaland added: “I told Jack sometimes players need maybe a year or something to come into the new league and new team and everything — and sometimes players come directly in and perform… I told him this.
“So, yeah, that was one game, Community Shield, I missed a couple of big chances. It can happen, it will happen again. What can you do? Nothing.
“We have to focus on the next thing, the next game and that’s what I did.
“I think often it’s a good thing when people start criticizing you. I scored every single game and then people started criticizing me — that’s what happened, basically.
“I don’t read anything because I think my brain would be a bit crazy if I was reading everything everyone is writing. I cannot do that but of course I get things with me and then it was even better to score two goals in the next game (at West Ham).
“When people criticize you it’s normally a good thing, it’s just about trying to smile a bit and enjoy life.”
While the criticism may have motivated Haaland, he admits he is part of a “special” squad who have helped him reach such lofty heights.
He has also thrived under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola — who is chasing a third Champions League after managing Barcelona to triumphs in 2009 and 2011.
“He is a detail freak,” added Leeds-born Haaland, whose dad Alf-Inge Haaland played for both Leeds and City. “I am really enjoying every single day with him, with the intense Pep — I like it. It is about the small details, keep on developing.
“I am still young, I can improve a lot and I am at the perfect place, to work with the best coach and players in the world.”
Haaland has fitted in perfectly with City’s talented and ambitious group and picked up Player of the Year awards aplenty.
He bettered the Premier League record of 34 goals, set by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole, with his tally of 36, has scored 12 times in 10 Champions League games and netted six hat tricks in all competitions.
Haaland says he set no goal targets at the start of the season, nor is he thinking about winning the Ballon d’Or this year, but admitted: “No, I didn’t expect to score this many goals but, again, I could have scored more.
“I’ve been missing a lot of chances, so I could have scored more — that’s the truth.”
His last goal came at Everton on May 14 but, with another smile and twinkle in his eye, he added: “You can think of it as one goal in seven games or 52 goals in 52 games and eight assists.
“You can think of it in both ways, I’m not stressed. I feel really good.”
It will feel even better if he — and City — are crowned kings of Europe.


Inter’s Martinez dreaming of World Cup and Champions League double

Inter’s Martinez dreaming of World Cup and Champions League double
Updated 09 June 2023

Inter’s Martinez dreaming of World Cup and Champions League double

Inter’s Martinez dreaming of World Cup and Champions League double
  • The 25-year-old will pair up with either Edin Dzeko or Romelu Lukaku in attack as his team face Manchester City in Istanbul as big underdogs
  • Martinez, who was also recently married, is in hot form coming into Saturday's final, with 11 goals in his last 13 matches

ISTANBUL: Lautaro Martinez said Friday that he is hoping to make it a perfect season by winning the Champions League with Inter Milan six months after World Cup glory with Argentina.
The 25-year-old will pair up with either Edin Dzeko or Romelu Lukaku in attack as his team face Manchester City in Istanbul as big underdogs.
Martinez, who was also recently married, is in hot form coming into Saturday’s final, with 11 goals in his last 13 matches helping Inter secure a top four spot in Serie A, win the Italian Cup and reach the biggest game in club football.
And the man they call ‘The Bull’ is keen to celebrate another major win in what has been a hugely positive campaign, with 28 goals in all competitions and three trophies to his name.
“I think they (the World Cup and Champions League) are the two most important finals you can play, the only thing that changes is the shirt you’re wearing,” Martinez told reporters.
“The sensations are the same, as is the desire to get there. It’s the result of our work throughout year. We’re at the final and we need to be ready for the fans and the club.
“We know that Manchester City are a very tough team to take on given their individual and collective qualities. We’re ready to work hard and counteract what they can do to give ourselves an advantage.
“It’s definitely been a very positive season for me.... six months ago I played in the World Cup and now I’m facing Manchester City in the Champion League final. I’m delighted with how this season has gone, how I have done and I hope we can finish it in best way possible.”
Hakan Calhanoglu is dreaming of lifting the Champions League trophy on home turf as the Turkiye captain is set to start in Inter’s midfield.
The 29-year-old will become the first Turkish player to win Europe’s top club competition should Inter stun heavy favorites City.
He will be lining up against Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, the descendent of Turkish immigrants who chose to represent the country of his birth.
“I’m very happy and proud to be playing the final in my home county. I’m sure my country and people are behind me, and I hope as a Turkish player I can lift the trophy,” said Calhanoglu.
“It’s a special match, playing in Istanbul is different for me. I’d like to enjoy this moment because it might not ever come along again.
“I know that my people are with me... I think it’s more import for them that I win than Ilkay as I’d be only Turkiye player to win the Champions League.”