Andretti Global clears first hurdle to join Formula One as an 11th team with FIA expansion approval

Andretti Global clears first hurdle to join Formula One as an 11th team with FIA expansion approval
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Updated 03 October 2023

Andretti Global clears first hurdle to join Formula One as an 11th team with FIA expansion approval

Andretti Global clears first hurdle to join Formula One as an 11th team with FIA expansion approval

NEW YORK: Michael Andretti cleared a major hurdle in his bid to launch an American team in Formula One after the FIA said Monday that Andretti Global meets all required criteria to expand the world’s top motorsports series to 11 teams.

The decision does not guarantee Andretti will get the two-car team he wants and just how far he has to go was made clear in the brusque response issued by F1 after the announcement.

“We note the FIA’s conclusions in relation to the first and second phases of their process and will now conduct our own assessment of the merits of the remaining application,” Formula One said in a statement.

Liberty Media holds the F1 commercial rights and it is to the corporate giant that Andretti Global and partner Cadillac must next prove their commercial value. Liberty Media and F1 President Stefano Domenicali have mostly sided with the existing 10 teams, which vehemently oppose expanding the 20-car grid. The teams, however, have no vote on expansion.

Approval from the FIA was a first, important step in Andretti’s three-year quest to return his family’s storied name to the pinnacle of auto racing. Mario Andretti, his father, won the 1978 F1 championship and Michael ran 13 races in 1993.

The father and son are among the most successful racers in American open wheel history and rank third and fourth on IndyCar’s all-time win list. Michael Andretti said the Andretti Cadillac group was honored by the FIA’s approval.

“We appreciate the FIA’s rigorous, transparent and complete evaluation process and are incredibly excited to be given the opportunity to compete in such a historic and prestigious championship,” the statement said. “The formation of this distinctly American team is an important moment of pride for all our employees and fans. We feel strongly that Andretti Cadillac’s deep racing competencies and the technological advancements that come from racing will benefit our customers while heightening enthusiasm for F1, globally.”

Andretti said the team looked forward to engaging with the current F1 stakeholders.

California businessman Gene Haas owns an F1 team, but Andretti contends his team will truly represent the United States since Haas doesn’t field American drivers. Andretti’s plan had been to put Colton Herta in his car, but the 23-year-old Californian has failed to earn the Super License required to compete in F1.

Herta, who received both a lengthy and expensive contract extension before last season, went winless and finished 10th in the IndyCar standings. Teammate Kyle Kirkwood, who is from Florida, won twice and received his own contract extension last month.

So Andretti has American options and has insisted that with the support of Cadillac, his team would truly represent the red, white and blue. Haas does operate a portion of his team in North Carolina.

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been vocally supportive of the Andretti effort and formalized that by sending it to the next stage.

“Andretti Formula Racing LLC was the only entity which fulfills the selection criteria that was set in all material respects,” he said. “I congratulate Michael Andretti and his team on a thorough submission.”

Ben Sulayem, who took over as head of FIA in late 2021, led the opening this year of the process for potential new teams after Andretti petitioned for the grid to be expanded to allow new entrants. Andretti’s motion came after his failed 2021 bid to purchase an existing team.

The FIA received seven applicants at the first phase. Five went through to the second round, which required a $300,000 fee and deep-dive by F1’s governing body. Only four applicants completed the entire process; Andretti, with engines that would be General Motors-badged under the Cadillac banner, was deemed to be the only worthy applicant.

The applicant had to meet FIA’s sporting, technical and financial requirements to be recommended as a future team. Ben Sulayem said Monday “our objective, after rigorous due diligence during the application phase, was to only approve prospective entries which satisfied the set criteria and illustrated that they would add value to the sport.”

Most of the existing teams have been publicly against expanding the grid for anyone, even an American with General Motors branding. F1 this year will have three races in the US, five in North America, and has targeted a new sponsorship market by tapping into American popularity of the European racing series.

Current F1 teams — namely top players Red Bull and Mercedes — argue they have invested too much into F1 for someone to buy their way into the series. There is a $200 million anti-dilution fee for any new entrant, but the teams have argued expansion takes away from their financial cut.

And, they’ve said, if Andretti wants a team so bad then he should just buy one. None admit to being for sale as the value of an F1 team has gone up tremendously with the popular Netflix docudrama “Drive to Survive.”

Ben Sulayem said opening the process for new teams to join “also attracted further commitment from Audi, Honda and Ford and interest from Porsche and General Motors.”

This was the third time the FIA has been opened to pitches from potential teams. The first, in 2009, led to four teams joining the series but all eventually went bankrupt and are no longer part of the sport. For that reason, the parameters to join F1 and the entire application process is now extremely stringent.

Haas got his team in a 2014 expression of interest and remains on the F1 grid. Haas launched in 2016 and has already said that Kevin Magnussen of Denmark and Nico Hulkenberg of Germany will return next season.

New era as Women’s U20 ‘Green Falcons’ get their wings

New era as Women’s U20 ‘Green Falcons’ get their wings
Updated 13 sec ago

New era as Women’s U20 ‘Green Falcons’ get their wings

New era as Women’s U20 ‘Green Falcons’ get their wings
  • SAFF has officially announced the formation of the Women’s U20 National Team
  • Scotland’s Pauline Hamil appointed as head coach, bringing over 30 years of experience

RIYADH: A new era in Saudi Arabian football begins with the formation of the Women’s U20 National Team, which is expected to play a crucial role in the development of young female footballers in the Kingdom.

This initiative is part of the SAFF’s broader strategy to create sustainable and clear career paths for aspiring women footballers, reflecting a commitment to the growth of the sport at all levels.

The team, comprising talented players from the senior national team and those advancing from the U17 squad, is already engaged in their first training camp. The training camp is currently taking place in Riyadh from 5-11 December 2023. This event marks the beginning of a new era in the development of women's football in Saudi Arabia and is a testament to the SAFF’s dedication to fostering young talent.

“A new chapter in Saudi women’s football begins today with the launch of the U20 National Team. This team is a beacon of hope and opportunity for our young athletes, illuminating the path to international success.

“We are confident that under the expert guidance of Pauline Hamil, these young women will not only grow as players but also become role models for future generations. Their journey represents our unwavering commitment to elevating women's football in Saudi Arabia and on the global stage,” said Aalia AlRasheed, Head of the Women’s Football Department at the SAFF.

Pauline Hamil, the newly appointed head coach of the U20 team, brings a wealth of experience to the role. Her distinguished career includes playing for the Scotland National team, earning 141 caps over 18 years, and coaching various youth teams within the Scottish FA, including the U15s, U16s, U17s, and the Scotland WomenWomen’s U19s National team.

Hamil’s appointment is a significant boost to the team’s prospects and reflects the SAFF’s ambition to compete at the highest levels in future regional and international competitions.

The team is eagerly preparing for its first friendly match in March 2024, a key milestone in their preparation for future competitions.

Saudi stadia ready to host FIFA Club World Cup, says Sports Ministry

Saudi stadia ready to host FIFA Club World Cup, says Sports Ministry
Updated 07 December 2023

Saudi stadia ready to host FIFA Club World Cup, says Sports Ministry

Saudi stadia ready to host FIFA Club World Cup, says Sports Ministry
  • 90% of tickets for the tournament have been sold
  • 1.5m applications for tickets from 100 countries

JEDDAH: The two stadia in Jeddah set to host matches at the FIFA Club World Cup are ready, an official at the Saudi Ministry of Sport said on Thursday.

The competition will be held in the city from Dec. 12 to 22 at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium and the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Sports City venue.

Thamer Basunbul, deputy minister for sports facilities at the ministry, told the media that preparations at the two grounds had been completed.

He said: “Both stadiums have been renovated to FIFA standards and we can say with confidence that we have delivered on our promise of two world-class stadiums.

“The renovation includes removing the running track, expanding media centers, expanding the entrance for players, and adding a new lower tier. In addition, new LED lighting and screens have been installed around the front edge of the roof for spectators to have an immersive digital experience.”

He said plans were also in place to renovate existing stadia and build new ones for the 2034 FIFA World Cup should the Saudi Arabia bid be successful.

He added: “Stadia will also be leveraged long after the competition, in line with the nation’s Vision 2030, by improving the venues’ usability for both other sports and non-athletic events. This will reinforce the stadiums’ central position within their communities.”

Meanwhile, the Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Affairs at the Saudi Football Federation Majed Al-Sahib has confirmed that 90 percent of tickets for the tournament have been sold.

He added there had been 1.5 million applications for tickets from 100 countries, including fans from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Brazil, India, and England.

Al-Sahib said: “The fan zone at King Abdullah Sports City can accommodate more than 12,500 people, while the fan zone at Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Sports City can hold 6,500.

“We are targeting an attendance of 2 million fans and, therefore, the fan ticket system has been updated and the number of electronic gates has been increased, which has reached a total of more than 200 gates in the two stadiums.”

All roads lead to Jeddah for World Football Summit Asia

All roads lead to Jeddah for World Football Summit Asia
Updated 07 December 2023

All roads lead to Jeddah for World Football Summit Asia

All roads lead to Jeddah for World Football Summit Asia
  • Notable speakers include Adwa Al-Arifi, assistant minister of Sports Affairs, Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and Datuk Seri Windsor Paul John, AFC general secretary
  • World Football Summit seeks to host several editions of the summit in Saudi Arabia, showcasing the Kingdom's growing influence as a global sports powerhouse

JEDDAH: All roads lead to Jeddah as the city gets ready to host key decision-makers from clubs, leagues, federations, and brands associated with the global sport of football.

World Football Summit Asia (WFS Asia) will see all parties working together to shape the future of the beautiful game, in the first-ever football industry event to be held in Saudi Arabia.

Adwa Al-Arifi, assistant minister of Sports Affairs for Saudi Arabia, is set to inaugurate WFS Asia on December 12-13, along with Datuk Seri Windsor Paul John, general secretary at the Asian Football Confederation, setting the tone for a summit that aims to foster international cooperation and growth within the sport.

Scheduled with the backdrop of the FIFA Club World Cup, the second edition of the Asian edition of WFS will bring together over 1,000 representatives and stakeholders from the football ecosystem. The event will feature 130+ speakers, with 70% of attendees being decision-makers from leading football properties and sports businesses across more than 70 countries.

Notable speakers who will participate in the event include Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and co-founder of Yunus Sports Hub, Lamia Bahaian, vice president of SAFF, Tony Douglas, CEO of Riyadh Air, Miguel Angel Gil Marin, CEO of Atletico Madrid, Hammad Albalawi, Saudi Arabia 2034 FIFA World Cup bid team member, and football legends like Pavel Nedved, Francesco Totti and Eric Abidal.

World Football Summit, as it has done with previous editions of the summit in other regions of the world, aims to bring together key stakeholders to foster growth and collaboration in the football industry with the mission of establishing the summit as an annual fixture on the global sports business calendar.

The event promises to be a unique gathering of the main stakeholders in the industry, as it will bring together brands like Aramco, Riyadh Air, Snapchat, 433, Radisson, institutions like FIFA, SAFF, Saudi Pro League, Serie A, LALIGA, Bundesliga, FIFPRO, and clubs like Al-Nassr, Chelsea, Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen, and Atletico Madrid.

Hosting WFS Asia aligns with Saudi Arabia’s strategic vision to enhance its presence on the global sports stage. The event underlines the Kingdom’s dedication to fostering a rich sporting culture and its capacity to host major international events, having already secured the 2027 AFC Asian Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, attracting talents such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and Benzema. Moreover, Saudi Arabia will host 2034 Men’s FIFA World Cup.

As a result of these efforts, attendance at football matches in the country has risen 150% since the Portuguese legend joined Al-Nassr. From a business perspective, the ambition is high as the Roshn Saudi League aims to increase its market value from its current $800 million to $2.1 billion by 2030.

WFS Asia will include the participation of representatives from the Saudi Ministry of Sports, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF), the Saudi Professional League, and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

"We are truly honored to kick off WFS in Saudi Arabia by welcoming Adwa Al-Arifi and Datuk Seri Windsor Paul John for our inauguration,” said Jan Alessie, co-founder and director of World Football Summit.

“We are extremely proud of being able to host this edition in Saudi Arabia, and the commitment of the country to make this a landmark event for the global football industry is made tangible by the active participation of its main football and sport governing bodies. After having worked on this project for many months, we are convinced this will be the first of many editions in the country.”

Those interested in attending the event can visit here for more information.

Al-Ittihad’s World Cup warm-up ends with Damac defeat

Al-Ittihad’s World Cup warm-up ends with Damac defeat
Updated 07 December 2023

Al-Ittihad’s World Cup warm-up ends with Damac defeat

Al-Ittihad’s World Cup warm-up ends with Damac defeat
  • Jeddah club came to Damac on the back of three consecutive wins under new coach Marcelo Gallardo

JEDDAH: Al-Ittihad warmed up for the FIFA Club World Cup in disappointing fashion with a 3-1 defeat at Damac on Thursday. It was not the best performance from the Roshn Saudi League champions who were without the injured Karim Benzema and Romarinho, though midfielder N’Golo Kante returned to the starting eleven.

The Jeddah club came to Damac on the back of three consecutive wins under new coach Marcelo Gallardo, appointed last month, but now slip further off the pace at the top of the table. They are still in fourth and a full 13 points behind leaders Al-Hilal who have a game in hand.

Damac took an early lead through in-form striker Georges-Kevin Nkouduo for the Cameroonian’s 12th goal of the season. The focus may have been on the injury to Benzema, and Nkouduo showed the benefits of having a fit and in-form striker.

He took possession on the halfway line, sprinted past Luis Felipe, who seemed to pull a hamstring, and then raced free down the left. Taking on Omar Hawsawi, he then fired an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net. It was the goal of a top-class striker in excellent form.

The Tigers were struggling to create chances and almost fell further behind just after the half hour. Damac really should have extended their lead. A left-sided free-kick found Farouk Chafai unmarked at the near post. Yet somehow, the Algerian defender headed wide from mere inches out.

The hosts were almost made to pay for their wastefulness immediately. Muhannad Al-Shanqiti broke free on the right side of the area and the substitute, an early replacement for the injured Felipe, shot at the near post only for Mohammed Al-Mahasneh to make the save.

Suddenly it was end-to-end with Domagoj Antolic heading a Nkouduo cross just over the bar from close range and then Ittihad had a claim for a penalty as Marwan Al-Sahafi went down under a challenge from the goalkeeper. After a lengthy stoppage, Hamdallah put the ball on the spot but then the official jogged over to consult the pitchside monitor. The kick was given and the Moroccan did the rest.

It was not enough to send Al-Ittihad in level at the break, as deep into added time Nkoudou got his second. The visiting defense failed to clear a cross and there was the African attacker to pick up the ball on the left side and pick his spot to fire past  Marcelo Grohe. With 13 goals this season, he is just two behind the leader Cristiano Ronaldo.

Damac’s lead was extended soon after the restart and in spectacular fashion. Kante’s header fell to Tarek Hamed and the Egyptian’s fierce shot from 30 yards out came back off the woodwork, hit the diving Grohe and ended up in the back of the net. It was recorded as an own goal by the Brazilian.

It was a hammer blow to the hopes of the visitors of getting anything from what was always going to be a tough game against a Damac that had picked up 11 points from their past five league matches. Al-Ittihad poured forward but struggled to break down a team that could now afford to sit back and hit on the counter and midway through the second half, Grohe had to get down well to keep his team in with a chance of getting anything out of the game. 

With 18 minutes remaining, there was little prospect of that happening. Hamdallah appealed for a penalty once more but it was never going to be given. 

Gallardo now faces a major challenge in picking his players up for next Tuesday’s Club World Cup opener against Auckland City. If the Saudi Arabians can get past the Oceania champions then a massive clash awaits against Egyptian giants Al-Ahly.

Saudi Esports Federation announces details of Riyadh 2023 Global Esports Games

Saudi Esports Federation announces details of Riyadh 2023 Global Esports Games
Updated 07 December 2023

Saudi Esports Federation announces details of Riyadh 2023 Global Esports Games

Saudi Esports Federation announces details of Riyadh 2023 Global Esports Games
  • Dota 2, eFootball 2024, PUBG MOBILE, and Street Fighter 6 tournaments to take place on Dec. 12-16
  • Saudi Esports Federation CEO Turki Al-Fawzan: This event is sure to showcase to the world why esports is the fastest-growing and most entertaining sport on the planet

RIYADH: Five days out from the highly anticipated Riyadh 2023 Global Esports Games, or #GEG23, the flagship multi-title competition running from Dec. 12-16, the Saudi Esports Federation has announced new tournament format details.

Hosted by SEF and presented by the Global Esports Federation, the showpiece event returns for its third outing with five days of action, more than 250 elite competitors and more than 50 esports nations taking part.

Five tournaments will take place across world-renowned titles including Dot-a 2, eFootball 2024, PUBG MOBILE, and Street Fighter 6.

Saudi Esports Federation CEO Turki Al-Fawzan said: “The Riyadh 2023 Global Esports Games are going to be epic and we’re sure today’s announcement will take the pre-event buzz to a whole new level. With glory, bragging rights, and huge prizes at stake, elimination tournaments featuring the world’s best teams and talent always captivate audiences.

“The stage is set for history to repeat itself in the Saudi capital and we can’t wait for the action to begin on Dec. 12. This event is sure to showcase to the world why esports is the fastest-growing and most entertaining sport on the planet. The Games are simply unmissable.”

Launching proceedings on Tuesday, Dec. 12 is the Dota 2 Open. Dota 2 is the deepest multi-player action, real-time strategy game ever created and one of the world’s biggest Esports titles. At #GEG23, eight of the world’s best countries are facing off in single-elimination format with the final taking place on Friday, Dec. 15.

Also beginning on #GEG23 on Dec. 12 is Street Fighter 6, one of the highest-grossing video game franchises of all time and a staple of gaming folklore that has flourished over the decades. The showdown will start in Riyadh as 33 countries begin their campaign in a round-robin shootout.