Next World Forum returns for its second edition

Next World Forum returns for its second edition
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The Next World Forum takes place at the Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Center from Aug. 30-31. (Instagram/@nextwrldsa)
Next World Forum returns for its second edition
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His Royal Highness Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, Chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation, said: “The Next World Forum is an important event on the global calendar for the gaming and esports industry. (Supplied)
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Updated 06 June 2023
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Next World Forum returns for its second edition

Next World Forum returns for its second edition
  • The Next World Forum takes place at the Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Center from Aug. 30-31
  • Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Esports Federation’s Chairman, said: “The Next World Forum is an important event on the global calendar for the gaming and esports industry”

RIYADH: The biggest names in the world of international gaming and esports will gather in Riyadh for the second Next World Forum, a global industry gathering created to shape the future of the sector through knowledge exchange, discourse and debate.
This year’s edition will build on 2022’s success with high-profile guests leading discussions and deep analysis of a business worth $170 billion, more than Hollywood and the music industry combined.
The Next World Forum takes place at the Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Center from Aug. 30-31.
His Royal Highness Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, Chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation, said: “The Next World Forum is an important event on the global calendar for the gaming and esports industry.
“It provides a unique platform for leading industry figures to engage in challenging conversations and sessions, asking tough questions that contribute to shaping the future of the sector.
“By bringing together leaders and experts from around the world, the event is fostering a culture of inquiry, collaboration and knowledge sharing, and creating an environment where new models of working can be debated, discussed and developed to create a positive impact on the industry.
“It is evident that esports and gaming are becoming valid career paths for many, not just in Saudi but globally. The Next World Forum will generate dialogue and offer insights that enable these individuals — from across the industry — to better understand the landscape as it grows and evolves.”
Scheduled main stage sessions at the Next World Forum in August include: From Pixels To Podiums: Examining The Relationship Between Esports And The Olympics; Creating The Gold Standard Of The Competitive Gaming Scene; Breaking The Code: The Challenges For Women In Gaming Leadership; Press The Pause Button: Analyzing Esports Players’ Mental And Physical Health; and many more.
Speakers will include ministers of sport from leading nations, investors, gamers, developers, tech providers, start-ups, public sector representatives, brands and advertisers, publishers, broadcasters, and federations and leagues.
Organized by the Saudi Esports Federation, this year’s Next World Forum will also launch the Gamers8 Club Awards.
The Forum additionally brings the curtain down on Gamers8: The Land of Heroes, the biggest gaming and esports festival worldwide, which begins on July 6 at Boulevard Riyadh City.


The Roshn Saudi League 2023/24: A ‘game-changing season’

The Roshn Saudi League 2023/24: A ‘game-changing season’
Updated 29 May 2024
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The Roshn Saudi League 2023/24: A ‘game-changing season’

The Roshn Saudi League 2023/24: A ‘game-changing season’
  • ‘Some of the best players in the world chose RSL to showcase their incredible talents alongside the next generation of young Saudi talent,’ says league CEO Omar Mugharbel
  • 5-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo set a league record by scoring 35 goals during the season, one more than Abderrazak Hamdallah managed in 2018/19

RIYADH: During the 2023/24 season of the Roshn Saudi League, which concluded on Monday, 909 goals were scored in 306 matches, a 40 percent increase compared with the previous season.
Al-Nassr’s Portuguese superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo, contributed 35 of those goals, in 31 games, setting a league record for the number of goals in a season.
As he looked back on Wednesday at some of the highlights of an eventful season, the league’s CEO, Omar Mugharbel, predicted that it will be remembered as a milestone in the growth of elite football in the Kingdom.
“Some of the best players in the world chose RSL to showcase their incredible talents alongside the next generation of young Saudi talent,” he said.
“Their arrival amplified even further the huge interest in the league from fans, broadcasters and sponsors. It is impossible to overstate how much of a game-changing season 2023/24 has been.”
The season began with major signings of several international stars, including Karim Benzema, Neymar, Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mane, N’Golo Kante, Georgino Wijnaldum, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ruben Neves.
Champions Al-Hilal grabbed headlines around the globe when they set a world record for successive top-flight victories, winning 34 games in a row across all competitions during an unbeaten campaign.
On an individual level, five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo achieved further success in the calendar year 2023 when he netted the most club goals in the world, with 54 in 59 appearances in all competitions.
And during the 2023/24 season, the Portuguese star set a record by scoring 35 goals in the league, one more than previous record holder Abderrazak Hamdallah managed in 2018/19.
An increased focus on the development of young Saudi talent, to help them excel on the world stage, meant that age of eligibility to play in the league was reduced from 18 to 16 years old. The average age of players dropped to 27.5 years old.
Mugharbel said he has no doubt the league will continue to go from strength to strength, with preparations already underway for next season.
“What is crucial now is enhancing the offering for all stakeholders across the Roshn Saudi League to ensure that we deliver a product, on and off the field, that is truly and consistently world class across all metrics,” he said.
“These are hugely exciting times for football in Saudi Arabia and we look forward immensely to the Roshn Saudi League season 2024/25.”
Off the pitch, the transformation of the league attracted global attention. This was reflected in major milestones that were achieved across metrics such as broadcast deals, sponsorship agreements, and social media reach.
Games were broadcast in more than 160 countries on 38 global platforms as the league reached more fans than ever. Meanwhile, its social media channels attracted 6.72 million new followers during the season, representing a 141 percent increase from the start of the campaign.
The Manager of the Season award went to Al-Hilal boss Jorge Jesus, who was also named Manager of the Month five times along the way.
As noted, Ronaldo was Top Goalscorer, while Al-Hilal’s Yassine Bounou, who kept 15 clean sheets and conceded the fewest goals, was named Goalkeeper of the Season.


Usyk-Fury sequel set for Dec. 21 as part of Riyadh Season

Usyk-Fury sequel set for Dec. 21 as part of Riyadh Season
Updated 29 May 2024
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Usyk-Fury sequel set for Dec. 21 as part of Riyadh Season

Usyk-Fury sequel set for Dec. 21 as part of Riyadh Season
  • The undefeated Ukrainian won by split decision against Britain’s Fury in the Saudi capital on May 19 in the first unification fight of the four-belt era

RIYADH: Tyson Fury will seek revenge against Oleksandr Usyk on Dec. 21 in Riyadh for the heavyweight boxing title.
Usyk defeated the British boxer on May 19 on points, becoming the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the 21st century.
The chairman of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority Turki Alalshikh said: “The quality of the first fight has left fans globally wanting more so we are delighted to already be able to confirm the rematch as part of Riyadh Season 2024.”
“It is a chance for both fighters to write another chapter in boxing history and deliver what everyone around the world wants to see.”
Fury, who was confident and playful in the ring, landed some big shots against Usyk, including punishing body blows, that allowed the Brit to control the middle part of the fight.
But it was the Ukrainian’s consistancy of effort and barrage of accurate strikes in the ninth that nearly tanked the burly Mancunian.
In the end the judges scored the fight 115-113 and 114-113 for Usyk and 114-113 for Fury in a split decision which the Gypsy King said was biased.


Fury said immediately after the match that he would exercise an automatic rematch clause in his contract.
The Kingdom has engineered a revival of boxing in the past few years as the country seeks to attract global sports fans to Saudi Arabia.
On Saturday, a unique boxing event will be held in Riyadh that will see five boxers from Matchroom take on five from Queensberry in a team format dubbed 5vs5.
Queensberry’s Frank Warren told Arab News Sport even though the fighters were closely matched, his team will be victorious against Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom fighters.
Hearn praised the support for boxing in the Kingdom and said grassroots growth of the sport locally has been “incredible”.

 


Iga Swiatek saves a match point and comes back to beat Naomi Osaka at the French Open

Iga Swiatek saves a match point and comes back to beat Naomi Osaka at the French Open
Updated 29 May 2024
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Iga Swiatek saves a match point and comes back to beat Naomi Osaka at the French Open

Iga Swiatek saves a match point and comes back to beat Naomi Osaka at the French Open
  • Surging down the stretch as Osaka faded, Swiatek saved a match point and grabbed the last five games to sneak her way to a 7-6 (1), 1-6, 7-5 victory
  • “For sure, this match was really intense,” Swiatek said

PARIS: Iga Swiatek played like the current No. 1 and the two-time defending champion at the French Open. No surprise there. That Naomi Osaka looked like the former No. 1 that she is — and on clay, no less — amounted to an announcement that she is still quite capable of elite tennis.
Surging down the stretch as Osaka faded, Swiatek saved a match point and grabbed the last five games to sneak her way to a 7-6 (1), 1-6, 7-5 victory in the second round of the French Open on Wednesday night in a thrill-a-minute contest befitting two women who both own four Grand Slam titles.
“For sure, this match was really intense. Much more intense for the second round than I ever expected. For sure, I’ll be more ready next time,” Swiatek said. “Naomi played amazing tennis. … I’m happy that she’s back and she’s playing well.”
For Swiatek, this extended her Roland Garros winning streak to 16 matches as she pursues a third consecutive trophy at the clay-court major. For Osaka, who cried when she left the court after letting a 5-2 lead in the concluding set slip away, this amounted to a return to her big-hitting best.
They went back-and-forth for nearly three hours as rain loudly pelted the outside of the closed roof at Court Philippe Chatrier — showers forced the postponements of 23 singles matches until Thursday — and a riveted, if hardly full, crowd alternated their support between the two players. Sometimes, spectators called out before a point was done, prompting admonishment from chair umpire Aurélie Tourte during the match. And from Swiatek afterward.
“Sometimes, under a lot of pressure, when you scream something during the rally or right before the return, it’s really, really hard to be focused,” Swiatek said. “The stakes are big and there is a lot of money here to win. So losing a few points may change a lot. So please, guys, if you can support us between the rallies but not during, that would be really, really amazing.”
Osaka served for the victory at 5-3 in the final set, and was a point away from winning, but she put a backhand into the net. Soon, when Osaka missed another backhand, this one long, Swiatek finally converted a break point on her 10th chance of that set, and they played on.
Maybe the lack of high-level matches caught up to Osaka, because her mistakes continued to mount, including a double-fault that put Swiatek in control 6-5. Swiatek, who has led the WTA rankings for nearly every week since April 2022, then held serve one last time.
“I don’t necessarily feel like I regret anything,” Osaka said.
Still, this was, without a doubt, Osaka’s top performance since she returned to the tour in January after 15 months away while becoming a mother. (Her daughter, who is 10 months old now, accompanied Osaka to Paris and recently started walking.)
“I was watching Iga win this tournament last year, and I was pregnant. It was just my dream to be able to play her,” Osaka said. “When I kind of think of it like that, I think I’m doing pretty well. And I’m also just trying not to be too hard on myself. I feel like I played her on her better surface. I’m a hard-court kid, so I would love to play her on my surface and see what happens.”
Because of the weather, only nine matches were completed Wednesday, and winners included Coco Gauff, Ons Jabeur, Sofia Kenin, Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev.
It’s been a few years since Osaka played this capably and confidently, hammering big serves at up to 122 mph (197 kph) and imposing groundstrokes. Her quick-strike capabilities were on full display: Osaka won 82 of the 139 points (59 percent) that lasted four strokes or fewer, and she finished with a 54-37 advantage in total winners.
All of those familiar mannerisms were back, too. She turned her back to Swiatek to reset between points, hopped in place, tugged at her pink visor’s brim and slapped her palm on her thigh. Osaka celebrated points by shaking a clenched fist and shouting “Come on!”
She grabbed nine of 10 games to dominate the second set and lead 3-0 in the third. Then 4-1. Then 5-2.
As one ball or another would fly past Swiatek, zipped near a corner or right at a line, she turned toward her guest box and shot a look of confusion or concern in the direction of her coach and her sports psychologist.
“I felt for most of the match that I wasn’t really (in the) here and now,” Swiatek said. “My mind was, like, playing around sometimes.”
She’s not used to this sort of one-way traffic coming head-on in her direction. Normally, it’s Swiatek who is delivering lopsided sets at a foe’s expense, especially on clay. She now has won her last 14 matches this month, with titles on the surface at Madrid and Rome — a clay double no woman had done since Serena Williams in 2013.
But this marked a sudden return to the Osaka everyone came to expect, match in and match out, back when she was at the height of her powers, climbing atop the rankings and gathering two trophies apiece at the US Open and Australian Open from late 2018 to early 2021.
It was in May 2021 that Osaka withdrew from the French Open before her second-round match, explaining that she experiences “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking to the media and revealing she had dealt with depression. She took time away from the tour for a mental health break, then opted for another hiatus after her title defense at the US Open a few months later ended with a third-round loss.
She helped usher in a change in the way athletes, sports fans and society at large understood the importance of mental health — and prompted those in charge of various sports, including tennis, to take the issue seriously and try to accommodate and protect them better.
Osaka entered with an 0-4 record on the red stuff against opponents ranked in the top 10 and never has been past the third round at Roland Garros. This also would have been her first win anywhere against a top-10 opponent since January 2020.
Instead, though, it is Swiatek who moves on and continues her bid to become the first woman with three championships in a row in Paris since Justine Henin in 2007-09.


Guardiola disciple Kompany joins elite as Bayern boss

Guardiola disciple Kompany joins elite as Bayern boss
Updated 29 May 2024
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Guardiola disciple Kompany joins elite as Bayern boss

Guardiola disciple Kompany joins elite as Bayern boss
  • Kompany, still just 38, lacks the experience of previous Bayern coaches and was a surprise choice with his Burnley side relegated from the Premier League this season
  • He has long been earmarked for top jobs with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola saying it is his “destiny” to one day succeed him at the Etihad

BERLIN: Vincent Kompany was named Bayern Munich head coach on Wednesday, capping a rapid rise in the Belgian’s embryonic coaching career despite mixed results.
Kompany, still just 38, lacks the experience of previous Bayern coaches and was a surprise choice with his Burnley side relegated from the Premier League this season.
But he has long been earmarked for top jobs with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola saying it is his “destiny” to one day succeed him at the Etihad.
The former City captain spent three years under Guardiola at Man City as a player, winning two of Kompany’s four Premier League titles together.
Guardiola also knows the pressures that come with being Bayern boss from his three-year spell in the Bundesliga between 2013 and 2016.
After attempts to lure Xabi Alonso and Julian Nagelsmann back to the Allianz Arena from Bayer Leverkusen and the German national team failed, Bayern reportedly sought Guardiola’s advice before going for Kompany.
“I’m happy the link has happened for Bayern to Vinny,” Guardiola said.
“I have a huge opinion about Vinny, (it) doesn’t matter the relegation with Burnley. What I felt playing against him and knowing him, I have the highest opinion of his work, personality, his knowledge of the game, how he handles the media.”
Kompany began his coaching career back at his first club Anderlecht, leading them to third-place regular season finishes in both of his full seasons in charge.
He departed his homeland to return to England in 2022 and enjoyed a dream start at Turf Moor with Burnley promoted from England’s second tier as Championship winners with 101 points in his first season.
The Clarets’ joy was short-lived, however, as they were relegated from the top flight with just five wins and 24 points — the club’s lowest top-flight tally in their history.
Kompany faces a marked shift in expectation when he swaps Turf Moor for Munich.
But Bayern are hoping to replicate the rapid rise of another former Guardiola protege, Alonso, who led Leverkusen to their first ever Bundesliga title in his first full season as a senior coach.
Aged just six, Kompany joined Anderlecht and came through the youth ranks, breaking into the first team in 2003 aged 17.
He left to join Bundesliga side Hamburg in 2006 but his stint at the former European champions would prove crucial to his Bayern appointment.
Kompany, a native French and Flemish speaker, learned German during his time in Hamburg — a crucial criteria for Bayern, who have been historically reluctant to sign coaches not proficient in the local tongue.
After two seasons in northern Germany, he made the move that would define his career, joining City just before the club was taken over by a consortium from Abu Dhabi, which transformed them into the dominant force in English football.
Named skipper in 2011-12, he then captained City to their first English league title in 44 years.
The defender departed the Etihad in 2019 but has an enduring presence outside the stadium, with a statue built in his honor in 2021.
With 89 caps for Belgium, Kompany’s leadership also shone at a national level, where he captained the side from 2010 until stepping down from international duty in 2019.
Kompany’s qualities always seemed well-matched for a coaching career, but it was his time learning under Guardiola that crystallized that ambition.
“With Pep in the first friendly, I just knew I wanted to become a coach one day,” Kompany told Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung in 2023.
“He influenced me a lot because he was the one who broke the game down so that I could fully understand it.
“With his absolute clarity, he was the trigger for me to explain football in my own way.”
Kompany’s ideology has been formed by Guardiola’s possession-based style.
He attracted criticism this season for not adapting as Burnley struggled with the step up to the Premier League.
But Bayern — whose resources dwarf the rest of the Bundesliga — will be hoping Kompany can replicate the dominance shown in his one Championship season.


Mbappe and Alonso big winners at inaugural Globe Soccer Europe Awards

Mbappe and Alonso big winners at inaugural Globe Soccer Europe Awards
Updated 29 May 2024
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Mbappe and Alonso big winners at inaugural Globe Soccer Europe Awards

Mbappe and Alonso big winners at inaugural Globe Soccer Europe Awards
  • ‘I want to work hard to keep my name in history of football — there’s lots still to do; I’m far from what I want to achieve,’ says Mbappe
  • The awards recognize European football excellence, both on and off the field

SARDINIA: PSG striker Kylian Mbappe, Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso and FC Barcelona star Lamine Yamal were among the winners at the inaugural King Abdullah Financial District Globe Soccer Awards Europe.
Tuesday’s ceremony at Hotel Cala di Volpe in Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, marked the first European edition of the awards, which have been held in Dubai for the past 14 years.
With shortlists for five of the 10-plus honors decided by a fan vote earlier this month, a star-studded jury of football luminaries selected the final winners. The awards recognize European football excellence, both on and off the field.
Industry representatives and players past and present attended this week’s event, including FC Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski, three-time Champions League winner Fernando Morientes, former England manager Fabio Capello and the coach of the current Italian national side, Luciano Spalletti.
Mbappe, whose contract with his Parisian club expires at the end of June, took to the stage amid loud applause to collect the KAFD Best Player award.
“It’s an honor to be here — I see some great players, managers, legends. It’s always great to see everybody recognize your game. I want to thank my club; I know my president is here,” said the French striker.
“It’s always a pleasure to be a part of this event. It is part of my journey. I want to work hard to keep my name in the history of football. There is a lot still to do and I am far away from what I want to achieve, but I will start this summer with the Euros.”
The star’s moment in the spotlight came minutes after Alonso, who led his Leverkusen side to an undefeated domestic double and the final of the Europa League, received Best Coach from Pedro Proenca, president of Liga Portugal.
“It has been a real pleasure to see old colleagues and friends here tonight in this beautiful setting,” said Alonso. “I’m proud to receive this award, not just for myself but for all Bayer Leverkusen. What we have lived this year has been phenomenal, a fantastic journey. It felt special since the beginning, all the connections we created with the fans, the players, the staff. We’ve been able to have a dream season.”
The Emerging Player award was won by FC Barcelona’s 16-year-old winger Yamal, who scored five goals and notched up eight assists in 37 La Liga appearances this season. Xavier Puig, the Barcelona director responsible for women’s football, collected the Best Women’s Club award on behalf of FC Barcelona Femeni. Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano received Best Men’s Club on behalf of the UK Premier League champions.
All five winners — Mbappe, Alonso, Yamal, FC Barcelona and Manchester City — also received a gold “Road to Dubai” medal from His Excellency Saeed Hareb, secretary general of Dubai Sports Council, confirming their qualification for the year-ending Dubai Globe Soccer Awards which will take place this winter in the UAE.
Other Globe Soccer winners included Atalanta, who received the Revelation Award after winning the Europa League and qualifying for next season’s UEFA Champions League, and Nasser Al-Khelaifi, chairman of the European Clubs Association and president of PSG, who collected the Football Leadership Award. Cesc Fabregas accepted the Comeback Award on behalf of Como after his Lombardy side was promoted to Serie A for the first time in 21 years, and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta received Best Coach Premier League from former Gunner Fabregas after leading his swashbuckling side to within just two points of the title.
A host of career awards were also distributed during the evening, with Spalletti and Gianluigi Buffon both collecting a coach and player award respectively, while Karl-Heinz Rummenigge collected a Special Career Award recognizing his work with Bayern Munich, formerly as CEO and now as a member of the club’s supervisory board. A posthumous Special Career Award was also given to Italian striker Gigi Riva, who died earlier this year at the age of 79. It was collected by his son, Nicola.
“It has been a long journey to reach this point, but I am extremely proud to see the European football industry come out to recognize and celebrate the continent’s top-performing protagonists,” said Tommaso Bendoni, founder and CEO of Globe Soccer.
“When we created the Dubai Globe Soccer Awards 14 years ago, we had an ambitious vision that is now coming to fruition. It is testament to the growing reputation of the Globe Soccer brand that we have attracted so many of European football’s biggest names to join us for this historic event in Costa Smeralda.”
Shortly before the KAFD Globe Soccer Awards Europe, the first in-person, end-of-season La Liga Awards took place, with Spanish football celebrating a thrilling 2023-24 season.
Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham won Best Player after an incredible debut season in which the Englishman netted 19 goals and laid on six assists in only 28 games. Yamal won Best U23 Player and Jesus Areso of Osasuna won Best Goal for his strike from close to the corner flag against Getafe. Best Coach was won by Michel after he oversaw Girona climb from 10th to third in just 12 months.
KAFD Globe Soccer Awards Europe Edition 2024 winners:
Best Player: Kylian Mbappe (PSG and France)
Best Coach: Xabi Alonso (Bayer Leverkusen)
Emerging Player: Lamine Yamal (FC Barcelona and Spain)
Best Men’s Club: Manchester City
Best Women’s Club: FC Barcelona
Best Coach Premier League: Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
Revelation Award: Atalanta
Football Leadership Award: Nasser Al-Khelaifi (PSG and European Clubs Association)
Comeback Award: Cesc Fàbregas (Como)
Special Career Award: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
Special Career Award: Gigi Riva
Coach Career Award: Luciano Spalletti
Player Career Award: Gianluigi Buffon
Sportsmanship Award: Gianluca Pessotto

Official La Liga Awards 2024:
La Liga EA SPORTS Champion: Real Madrid
Best U23 Player: Lamine Yamal (FC Barcelona)
Best Coach: Michel (Girona)
Best Goal: Jesus Areso (Osasuna)
Best Player: Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid)
Team of the Season: Unai Simon, Daniel Carvajal, Ronald Araujo, Antonio Rudiger, Miguel Gutierrez; Aleix Garcia, İlkay Gundogan, Federico Valverde, Isco, Jude Bellingham, Savio, Griezmann, Robert Lewandowski, Artem Dovbyk and Vini Jr.