Saudi Arabia ready to become ‘world football hub,’ says WFS director

Saudi Arabia ready to become ‘world football hub,’ says WFS director
1 / 3
Jan Alessie, co-founder and director of World Football Summit Asia, meets the press in Riyadh. (Abdulrahman Fahad Bin Shulhub/AN)
Saudi Arabia ready to become ‘world football hub,’ says WFS director
2 / 3
World Football Summit Asia’s second summit, which will be held in December, was soft launched on May 25, 2023 in Riyadh. (Abdulrahman Fahad Bin Shulhub/AN)
Saudi Arabia ready to become ‘world football hub,’ says WFS director
3 / 3
WFS Asia has gathered the support of the Saudi Ministry of Sports, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, the Saudi Professional League and the Asian Football Confederation. (Abdulrahman Fahad Bin Shulhub/AN)
Short Url
Updated 25 May 2023

Saudi Arabia ready to become ‘world football hub,’ says WFS director

Saudi Arabia ready to become ‘world football hub,’ says WFS director
  • Kingdom will host key decision-makers from clubs, leagues, federations, and brands associated with the sport, all working together to shape the future of football

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is ready to become “the world football hub,” said Jan Alessie, co-founder and director of World Football Summit Asia on Thursday.

This came during the soft launch of the second summit, which will be held in December, gathering the global football industry in Riyadh and expecting over 1,500 representatives and stakeholders from the football ecosystem.

Becoming the epicenter of the football world, the Kingdom will host key decision-makers from clubs, leagues, federations, and brands associated with the sport, all working together to shape the future of football.

Scheduled to coincide with the FIFA Club World Cup, the WFS Asia will feature over 150 speakers, and more than 100 media representatives are expected to attend, providing extensive coverage. 

Over two action-packed days, attendees will have the opportunity to accelerate business growth through strategic networking and knowledge-sharing sessions.

The platform has reached an agreement with Saudi conglomerate Aljan & Bros Holding and its events subsidiary SAT Entertainment to host the next five editions of the summit in Riyadh. The inaugural WFS Asia took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“Bringing an event like the World Football Summit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia perfectly aligns with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030,” said Mohamed bin Abdulaziz Alajlan, deputy chairman of Ajlan & Bros Holding. 

“We firmly believe in the power of sport to unite people from all corners of the globe and forge valuable commercial partnerships. Football’s unrivalled popularity has the potential to generate employment, boost corporate tourism, and create talent development opportunities for industry professionals.”

The decision to host WFS Asia in Saudi Arabia highlights the country’s growing prominence as a global sports powerhouse. The Kingdom has already secured the 2027 AFC Asian Cup, the FIFA Club World Cup and has attracted top talent such as Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Moreover, Saudi Arabia is a major contender for hosting the 2030 FIFA World Cup. Alongside football, the Kingdom has made significant strides in other sports, including LIV, e-sports, and more. The recent success of the Qatar World Cup has also helped shine a light on the broader region’s potential in the global sports industry.

WFS Asia is garnering the support of the Saudi Ministry of Sports, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, the Saudi Professional League and the Asian Football Confederation. 

WFS Asia aims to foster growth and collaboration in the football industry with the mission to establish the summit as an annual fixture on the global football calendar.

Since its inception in 2016, WFS has successfully attracted over 22,000 attendees across 16 events and has built a global community of over 80,000 sports industry executives throughout its platforms.

WFS director visited Saudi Arabia for the first time ever, hoping it will become his second home from now on. During the soft launch, he said: “Given Saudi Arabia’s aspiration to establish itself as a leading force in global sports, it made perfect sense for World Football Summit to organize an event here, connecting key regional football stakeholders with their international counterparts.”


Kvaratskhelia named Serie A player of the year after helping Napoli to title

Kvaratskhelia named Serie A player of the year after helping Napoli to title
Updated 03 June 2023

Kvaratskhelia named Serie A player of the year after helping Napoli to title

Kvaratskhelia named Serie A player of the year after helping Napoli to title
  • Kvaratskhelia was a relative unknown when he joined Napoli in the offseason from Georgian team Dinamo Batumi for a reported fee of €10 million ($10.7 million)
  • The 22-year-old forward earned the nickname “Kvaradona” in homage to Napoli hero Diego Maradona, who led the team to their only two previous league titles

NAPLES, Italy: Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia was named Serie A player of the year on Friday and will be presented with his trophy on a bumper day of celebration for the southern team.

Kvaratskhelia will receive the award before Napoli kick off their final match of the season on Sunday, at home to Sampdoria. Luciano Spalletti will also be presented with the coach of the year prize.

That will just be the start of the trophy presentations, as Napoli will finally get their hands on the Serie A trophy after the match. The team clinched it with five rounds to spare.

Kvaratskhelia was a relative unknown when he joined Napoli in the offseason from Georgian team Dinamo Batumi for a reported fee of €10 million ($10.7 million).

But the 22-year-old forward was fundamental in Napoli earning their first Serie A title in 33 years. So much so that he earned the nickname “Kvaradona” in homage to Napoli hero Diego Maradona, who led the team to their only two previous league titles.

“Khvicha Kvaratskhelia`s impact on the league has been impressive,” Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo said. “Congratulations to Napoli for having brought to Italy this talent, who from the very first matches showed off his repertoire of technique, dribbling, personality and creativity.

“With 12 goals and 10 assists, Kvaratskhelia was one of the leading players for the Azzurri, who won the Scudetto and made many fans and lovers of beautiful football dream.”

 


No alternative to Bayern sackings, says ex-president Hoeness

No alternative to Bayern sackings, says ex-president Hoeness
Updated 02 June 2023

No alternative to Bayern sackings, says ex-president Hoeness

No alternative to Bayern sackings, says ex-president Hoeness
  • "The overall development was simply too unsatisfactory" Hoeness told newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung
  • Hoeness revealed "nobody" at the club was consulted about the decision to fire coach Julian Nagelsmann in March

BERLIN: Former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness said in an interview published on Friday the club had no alternative but firing chief executive Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.
Hoeness explained the club needed to take action, with news of the sacking becoming known just moments after Bayern won their 11th straight Bundesliga title.
“The overall development was simply too unsatisfactory” Hoeness told newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, referring to the club’s poor second half of the season.
Nine points ahead of Borussia Dortmund at Christmas, Bayern entered the final round of the season two points behind.
Their 2-1 win over Cologne in the last match of the campaign, along with Dortmund’s 2-2 draw against Mainz, meant they won the title on goal difference.
Bayern sacked Kahn and Salihamidzic on Thursday, but did not tell the players or make the news public until moments after the full-time whistle.
Captain Thomas Mueller found out in a post-match interview, after putting on a t-shirt commemorating the win.
Hoeness, who played for Bayern before running the club in various capacities for decades, revealed “nobody” at the club was consulted about the decision to fire coach Julian Nagelsmann in March.
“Even Herbert Hainer (Bayern president) was informed far too late... and something like that simply doesn’t work.”
While saying that Salihamidzic “remained a good sporting director,” Hoeness said former goalkeeper Kahn had not done enough work in the sporting department.
“Oliver had defined his role for himself in such a way that he largely stayed out of sports. Yet sport is the main task.
“Our product is football” the 71-year-old added.


Inter’s Gosens returns, Gnabry dropped from Germany squad for upcoming friendlies

Inter’s Gosens returns, Gnabry dropped from Germany squad for upcoming friendlies
Updated 02 June 2023

Inter’s Gosens returns, Gnabry dropped from Germany squad for upcoming friendlies

Inter’s Gosens returns, Gnabry dropped from Germany squad for upcoming friendlies
  • Flick returns to a more conventional squad after experimenting with new players for Germany's last round of friendlies in March
  • The 26-man squad named Friday contain no new call-ups, though AC Milan defender Malick Thiaw is uncapped despite having been in the March squad

FRANKFURT, Germany: Inter Milan midfielder Robin Gosens is set to return to the Germany team for the first time in nearly a year, while Bayern Munich forward Serge Gnabry was left out as coach Hansi Flick announced his squad for upcoming friendly games Friday.
Flick returns to a more conventional squad after experimenting with new players for Germany’s last round of friendlies in March following a group-stage exit at the 2022 World Cup. Those experiments brought mixed results with a 2-0 win over Peru and a 3-2 loss to Belgium.
The 26-man squad named Friday contain no new call-ups, though AC Milan defender Malick Thiaw is uncapped despite having been in the March squad. Eight players return after not being selected in March, including Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gündogan, who missed Germany’s last friendlies after becoming a father, Bayern forward Leroy Sané and Real Madrid defender Antonio Rüdiger.
Gosens is back for the first time in nine months after his role in helping Inter to the Champions League final, albeit mostly as a substitute. He was listed as a defender in Friday’s announcement, reflecting his usual role for Germany as a left-back, not the midfield role he typically plays for Inter.
Gosens has 14 appearances for Germany and started all four games at the European Championship in 2021, making waves with a goal and two assists in a 4-2 win over Portugal, but has played only once since September of that year.
Gnabry misses out despite a late-season burst of form which saw him score five goals and assist one more in Bayern’s final five games, helping his team to overtake Borussia Dortmund for the Bundesliga title. Others from the March squad who have been dropped include Eintracht Frankfurt’s attacking midfielder Mario Götze and Wolfsburg forward Felix Nmecha. Bayern’s Thomas Müller remains out of the squad and hasn’t been selected since the World Cup.
As the host nation for next year’s European Championship, Germany do not have to play qualifying games. They host Ukraine on June 12 in what the German soccer confederation considers to be the team’s 1,000th game. That will be followed by matches at Poland on June 16 and home against Colombia on June 20.

Germany:
Goalkeepers: Bernd Leno (Fulham), Marc-André ter Stegen (Barcelona), Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt).
Defenders: Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Robin Gosens (Inter Milan), Benjamin Henrichs (Leipzig), Thilo Kehrer (West Ham), Lukas Klostermann (Leipzig), David Raum (Leipzig), Antonio Rüdiger (Real Madrid), Nico Schlotterbeck (Borussia Dortmund), Malick Thiaw (AC Milan), Marius Wolf (Borussia Dortmund).
Midfielders: Julian Brandt (Borussia Dortmund), Emre Can (Borussia Dortmund), Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich), Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City), Jonas Hofmann (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich), Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen).
Forwards: Niclas Füllkrug (Werder Bremen), Kai Havertz (Chelsea), Leroy Sané (Bayern Munich), Kevin Schade (Brentford), Timo Werner (Leipzig).


Jose Mourinho charged by UEFA for verbally abusing referee at Europa League final

Jose Mourinho charged by UEFA for verbally abusing referee at Europa League final
Updated 02 June 2023

Jose Mourinho charged by UEFA for verbally abusing referee at Europa League final

Jose Mourinho charged by UEFA for verbally abusing referee at Europa League final
  • UEFA said the Roma coach is charged for “insulting / abusive language against a match official” after Sevilla’s victory in Budapest this week
  • Footage circulated Thursday of Mourinho approaching referee Anthony Taylor in the garage and calling him a “disgrace” with an expletive

NYON, Switzerland: Jose Mourinho was charged by UEFA on Friday after being filmed aggressively cursing at the English match referee in a stadium garage after the Europa League final.
UEFA said the Roma coach is charged for “insulting / abusive language against a match official” after Sevilla’s victory in Budapest this week.
It was one of a slew of disciplinary charges UEFA opened into incidents at a testy, bad-tempered game that lasted more than three hours on Wednesday.
Footage circulated Thursday of Mourinho approaching referee Anthony Taylor in the garage and calling him a “disgrace” with an expletive.
Later Thursday, Taylor and his family were harassed and verbally abused by Roma fans at the airport in Budapest.
Roma lost to Sevilla in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw that saw players and officials clash on the field and in the technical area.
UEFA charged both teams with improper conduct – typically activated for at least five yellow cards shown – and Roma was charged over crowd disturbances and acts of damage.
Sevilla was also charged because dozens of its fans invaded the field after the match.
UEFA gave no timetable for its disciplinary panel to judge the cases.


Ronaldo and Al-Nassr to take on PSG during summer friendly in Japan

Ronaldo and Al-Nassr to take on PSG during summer friendly in Japan
Updated 02 June 2023

Ronaldo and Al-Nassr to take on PSG during summer friendly in Japan

Ronaldo and Al-Nassr to take on PSG during summer friendly in Japan
  • The clash between Al-Nassr, who finished second in the Roshn Saudi League, and PSG will be held in Osaka on July 25
  • Messi was not among the players PSG used to illustrate the tour announcement on their website

JAPAN: Cristiano Ronaldo and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr will take on Paris Saint-Germain during their summer friendlies in Japan.
The clash between Al-Nassr, who finished second in the Roshn Saudi League, and PSG will be held in Osaka on July 25.
However, there will be no head-to-head between Ronaldo and old rival Lionel Messi, with the Argentine set to leave PSG.
Messi was not among the players PSG used to illustrate the tour announcement on their website.
Last summer PSG traveled to Japan to play three local clubs and were greeted by sell-out crowds, even for their training sessions.
They round off their Japan visit against Inter, who play Manchester City in the Champions League final, at Tokyo’s National Stadium on August 1.
PSG clinched a record 11th French title last week as Messi scored in a 1-1 away draw at Strasbourg.
PSG are scheduled to play J-League club Cerezo Osaka on July 28.
City, Bayern Munich and Celtic have also announced tours to Japan this summer.
(With inputs from AFP)