Game on! Saudi Arabia set to host football World Cup in 2034

Saudi Arabia is in line to host the 2034 World Cup after FIFA announced on Tuesday that the Kingdom was the only bidder for the tournament. (FIFA)
Saudi Arabia is in line to host the 2034 World Cup after FIFA announced on Tuesday that the Kingdom was the only bidder for the tournament. (FIFA)
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Updated 01 November 2023
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Game on! Saudi Arabia set to host football World Cup in 2034

Saudi Arabia is in line to host the 2034 World Cup after FIFA announced on Tuesday that the Kingdom was the only bidder.
  • The Kingdom is the only remaining bidder for 2034 tournament after rivals Australia pull out

RIYADH: Unpack those green scarves and replica shirts — the football World Cup, the biggest sports show on Earth, is coming to Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom is the only remaining bidder for the 2034 tournament after sole rivals Australia pulled out, the sport’s world governing body FIFA said on Tuesday. The decision will be ratified officially at a special FIFA congress at the end of next year.

Saudi Arabia had initially been interested in bidding for the 2030 World Cup alongside Egypt and Greece, but that idea was abandoned in June leaving the path open for a tri-continental bid by Spain, Portugal and Morocco, with three matches in South America.
The Kingdom said on Oct. 4 that it would bid for the 2034 event, minutes after the process was launched.
As a result of the tournament’s continental rotation, FIFA invited only member countries of the Asian and Oceanian confederations to apply. Indonesia considered a joint bid with Australia, or other countries such as New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore, but on Oct. 19 it swung behind Saudi Arabia’s bid.
Australia, which hosted the Women’s World Cup this year, was also a contender but withdrew its interest afterthe Asian Football Confederation’s decision to back the Saudi bid.
Football Australia chief executive James Johnson said bidding for the tournament was “not going to be favorable to Australia.” He said: “Saudi is a strong bid. They have a lot of resources, and not just for the 2034 World Cup. From the government, top down they are prioritizing investment in football. That is difficult to compete with.”

The Kingdom has hosted a raft of major sporting events since 2018, including football, Formula 1, golf and boxing, and will stage football’s Club World Cup in December.


Hungary knock Scotland out of Euros with 100th-minute winner

Hungary knock Scotland out of Euros with 100th-minute winner
Updated 11 sec ago
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Hungary knock Scotland out of Euros with 100th-minute winner

Hungary knock Scotland out of Euros with 100th-minute winner
  • Hungary arrived at the Euros with increased expectations after a 14-match unbeaten run between November 2022 and March of this year

STUTTGART, Germany: Kevin Csoboth scored in the 10th minute of added time as Hungary snatched a 1-0 win over Scotland to stay in the hunt for a place in the last 16 of Euro 2024.
A sickening collision led to Hungary striker Barnabas Varga being stretchered off in front of his visibly shocked team-mates in the second half, but Csoboth’s late winner kept them alive in the tournament.
It was a bitter end to Scotland’s bid to reach the knockout phase of a major tournament for the first time as they were caught out pressing for a goal of their own right at the death.
Germany finished top of Group A after a 1-1 draw with Switzerland, who will go through as runners-up. Hungary must rely on other results if they are to advance as one of the best third-placed sides.
Scotland came last with just a point as their wait for a first European Championship win since 1996 goes on.
Coach Steve Clarke made one enforced change for Scotland as Scott McKenna replaced Kieran Tierney, who was stretchered off with a hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw with Switzerland.
English-born Callum Styles got the nod in Hungary’s midfield, coming in after shaking off an injury, with Endre Botka also making his first appearance of the tournament on the right side of a back three.
John McGinn revealed the team skipped their pre-match nap as thousands of Scotland supporters gathered outside the hotel, belting out songs in anticipation of what they hoped was a historic night.
Hungary arrived at the Euros with increased expectations after a 14-match unbeaten run between November 2022 and March of this year. They also beat England twice in the last UEFA Nations League, as well as Germany away.
But back-to-back defeats had punctured confidence and left Marco Rossi’s side needing to beat Scotland to keep alive their hopes of reaching the knockout rounds.
Scotland goalkeeper Angus Gunn shovelled away a dipping drive from Bendeguz Bolla that bounced awkwardly in front of him, with Styles and then Willi Orban booked for cleaning out McGinn in a first half full of endeavour but limited in genuine chances.
That was until Che Adams’ dangerous clearance led to a Hungary free-kick 25 yards out, which Dominik Szoboszlai clipped toward the far post with Orban’s header skimming the top of the crossbar.
Szoboszlai, who shrugged off injury concerns after missing Hungary’s final team training session, hammered over a strike from distance, and it wasn’t until the 53rd minute that Scotland registered a shot.
Scotland defended doggedly as Jack Hendry blocked Roland Sallai’s attempt shifting in from the left before Marton Dardai headed over from a cross.
A horrifying incident left Varga prone on his back in the Scotland area as he tried to head a free-kick goalwards while Gunn came flying out, with Anthony Ralston also crashing to the ground.
It resulted in a long stoppage as medics set Varga in the recovery position before a sheet was draped around him as he was carried off on a stretcher.
The fourth official indicated 10 minutes of stoppage time, which sparked a desperate quest from both teams to find the winning goal.
Gunn saved well from Andras Schafer and Szoboszlai, before Csoboth hit the post. Scotland defender Grant Hanley had a chance parried away by Peter Gulacsi, with Hungary racing up the other end and Csoboth steering home a cutback to break Scottish hearts.


Last-gasp Fuellkrug goal rescues top spot for Euro hosts Germany

Last-gasp Fuellkrug goal rescues top spot for Euro hosts Germany
Updated 15 min 20 sec ago
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Last-gasp Fuellkrug goal rescues top spot for Euro hosts Germany

Last-gasp Fuellkrug goal rescues top spot for Euro hosts Germany

FRANKFURT: A stoppage-time header from Niclas Fuellkrug has rescued a 1-1 draw for Germany against Switzerland on Sunday in Frankfurt, ensuring the Euro hosts finish top of Group A.

The Swiss hit the lead early, Dan Ndoye booting in from close range after 28 minutes to stun the home side.

Germany took a series of risks late in the hope of an equalizer and veteran striker Fuellkrug delivered, heading home in the second minute of stoppage time.

The result means Switzerland, rather than Germany, face a tougher last 16 assignment, setting up a potential meeting with holders Italy or 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia.

The Germans look set to face second place in England’s Group C, which is currently Denmark.

Heading into the match the hosts were optimistic they had turned the corner after almost a decade of disappointment at major tournaments, with two World Cup group stage exits bookending a Euros last 16 elimination.

Led by an experienced midfield featuring captain Ilkay Gundogan and Toni Kroos, Germany beat both Scotland and Hungary in their first two Euros matches to give the hosts hope of a deep run in the tournament.

The hosts were however caught off guard by Switzerland’s energy and failed to carve out many clear-cut chances against a dogged Swiss defense.

Despite Fuellkrug’s late rescue effort, Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann will have plenty to ponder after the stodgy performance.

Despite having already qualified for the last 16, Nagelsmann decided to play the same starting XI for the third straight game.

It was a decision he may regret when defender Jonathan Tah saw yellow, his second in the group stage, meaning he will miss Germany’s first knockout game.

Pushed on by an optimistic and partisan home ground, Germany started brightly, carving out some half-chances after launching long balls over Switzerland’s midfield press.

Robert Andrich looked to have given Germany the lead after 16 minutes when Yann Sommer made a meal of his long-range strike, which bounced past the goalkeeper and into the net.

The goal was however overturned with VAR finding Jamal Musiala had committed a foul in the lead-up.

The Swiss had been on the back foot early but took the lead on the 28-minute mark, taking advantage of some sloppy play from Musiala and Joshua Kimmich.

Musiala lost the ball in his own half, sending Switzerland on the break. Kimmich won but then let go of possession, allowing Remo Freuler to find Ndoye who stuck out a leg and booted the ball into the net.

It was the first time the hosts have trailed this tournament and the goal seemed to rattle Germany, who were increasingly hesitant in closing out the first half.

Germany went on the attack in the second half as Nagelsmann made several offensive changes but the hosts had few clear chances against a Swiss side doggedly protecting their lead.

Man City defender Manuel Akanji stretched out to block Kimmich at point-black range with 20 minutes remaining.

Nagelsmann brought Fuellkrug from the bench with 14 minutes remaining and the Borussia Dortmund striker stepped up to the plate, heading in a cross from David Raum to send Germany back to the top of the group.


Tchouameni prefers substance over style for France at Euro 2024

Tchouameni prefers substance over style for France at Euro 2024
Updated 23 June 2024
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Tchouameni prefers substance over style for France at Euro 2024

Tchouameni prefers substance over style for France at Euro 2024
  • A draw against a Poland side who are already eliminated will be enough to secure France’s last-16 place

PADERBORN, Germany: France midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni says he is not concerned about criticism of the team’s performances so far at Euro 2024 as the favorites stand on the brink of a place in the last 16 despite not lighting up the tournament.
“Some people want to win and do so by playing well, and others just want to win. Personally I just want to win, whether we play well or not,” the Real Madrid star told reporters at the French team’s base in Paderborn on Sunday.
“The most important thing is winning and getting three points because I think at the end of our careers what we will remember is what we have won, not how we played.”
The 2022 World Cup runners-up go into Tuesday’s final Group D game against Poland in Dortmund with four points from two outings having scored just once via an own goal while keeping two clean sheets.
They beat Austria 1-0 in their opening match after Maximilian Woeber put through his own net, and then drew 0-0 with the Netherlands in Leipzig in the absence of the injured Kylian Mbappe.
That is despite France boasting supreme attacking quality in their ranks beyond their captain.
Yet Les Bleus have often been criticized in the past for not playing more expansive football under coach Didier Deschamps.
They went on to win the 2018 World Cup after laboring through the group stage, recording a narrow 2-1 win against Australia thanks to a penalty and an own goal, then edging Peru 1-0 before a 0-0 draw against Denmark.
“In recent times we have had quite a lot of good results and won titles with this coach. That is the most important thing,” Tchouameni said.
“I understand that some people want to see a team play really good football.
“Maybe we are not the team that plays the best football, but we are the ones who are most often in the latter stages and that is the main thing for me.”
A draw against a Poland side who are already eliminated will be enough to secure France’s last-16 place.
Mbappe could return after sitting out the Netherlands match as he recovers from a broken nose suffered against Austria and adapts to wearing a protective face mask.
“I think everyone knows he is really eager to play in the next match,” Tchouameni said of his future Madrid teammate.
“As for the mask, I think he is starting to get used to it. Of course he would rather not wear it but I think if you ask the doctor he would say there is no choice.
“But that won’t change anything for him. We know that when he is on the field he will bring a lot to the team.”
Even a defeat against Poland might not stop France progressing, depending on the result of the other group game between Austria and the Netherlands.
However, a victory might not be enough for the French to top the group, if the Dutch win too and so by a bigger margin.


Jordan, Buttler star as England thrash USA to reach T20 World Cup semifinals

Jordan, Buttler star as England thrash USA to reach T20 World Cup semifinals
Updated 23 June 2024
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Jordan, Buttler star as England thrash USA to reach T20 World Cup semifinals

Jordan, Buttler star as England thrash USA to reach T20 World Cup semifinals
  • By winning so quickly, England secured a place in the last four, regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s final Group Two Super Eights match

BRIDGETOWN: Chris Jordan took four wickets in five balls, including the third hat-trick of the T20 World Cup, as defending champions England qualified for the semifinals with a 10-wicket thrashing of the United States in his native Barbados on Sunday.
The 35-year-old all-rounder, born and educated on the Caribbean island, justified his recall for this match in spectacular fashion with the remarkable figures of 4-10 in 2.5 overs as the United States were dismissed for 115.
England captain Jos Buttler then led from the front in a blistering chase with an unbeaten 83, featuring five sixes in an over from Harmeet Singh, as his side raced to their target in a mere 9.4 overs.
By winning so quickly, England secured a place in the last four, regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s final Group Two Super Eights match between co-hosts the West Indies and South Africa in Antigua and any associated net run-rate calculations.
Buttler faced just 38 balls, including six fours and seven sixes, but the day belonged to Jordan, whose hat-trick was the third of this tournament, with Australia’s Pat Cummins achieving the feat against both Bangladesh and Afghanistan, and the first by an England bowler in any men’s T20 international.
“Unbelievable feeling, more importantly to restrict USA and to do it in a special place like this is always nice,” said Jordan.
“Been on a hat-trick a few times, nice to get it on target this time.”
Buttler added: “I wanted to bring CJ back in to add a little bit of depth to the batting and we know what he is capable of with the ball. He executed it fantastically well, and a World Cup hat-trick is a great effort.”
As for his own form, Buttler said: “Personally it’s really important I continue this into the semifinals. I have been feeling good all year, I feel I am hitting the ball well and it is nice to get that confidence.”
The United States, one of the surprise packages of the event after defeating Pakistan on their way to the second round, were 115-6 when Jordan came onto bowl the 19th over.
His first ball of the over saw Corey Anderson hit a fast and low full toss to Harry Brook at long-on as the former New Zealand all-rounder fell for 29.
Two balls later, paceman Jordan clean bowled Ali Khan for a duck, the off-stump knocked out of the ground.
Next ball Nosthush Kenjige was plumb lbw and Jordan then completed his hat-trick — and ended the innings — by bowling Saurabh Netravalkar between bat and pad to remove the last man’s middle stump.
The United States were relatively well-placed at 48-2 at the end of the six-over powerplay.
But leg-spinner Adil Rashid then bowled two excellent googlies to dismiss Aaron Jones and Nitish Kumar, whose 30 was the highest score of the innings, in a miserly haul of 2-13.
England started their reply knowing victory in 17.4 overs would see them advance to the semifinals regardless of events elsewhere.
Buttler signalled his intentions early on with an extraordinary 104-meter six before Mumbai-born left-arm spinner Singh then felt the full force of his bat.
England must now wait another 24 hours to discover the identity of their semifinal opponents.


Euro 2024 security bulked after pitch invaders aim for Ronaldo selfies

Euro 2024 security bulked after pitch invaders aim for Ronaldo selfies
Updated 23 June 2024
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Euro 2024 security bulked after pitch invaders aim for Ronaldo selfies

Euro 2024 security bulked after pitch invaders aim for Ronaldo selfies

BERLIN: UEFA will increase security during the rest of Euro 2024 after several pitch invaders attempted to take selfies with Portugal’s star striker Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 39-year-old forward posed for a photo with a young boy during the 3-0 win over Turkiye in Group F on Saturday in Dortmund, but grew exasperated as at least five more fans attempted to do the same.
“Safety and security in the stadium, on the pitch and at team facilities are the ultimate priority for UEFA,” the European football governing body told AFP on Sunday.
“To this end, additional safety measures will be deployed in the stadiums to further meet the requirements of the tournament, and to prevent such incidents.”
One security guard crashed into Paris Saint-Germain striker Goncalo Ramos while trying to stop a pitch invader reaching Ronaldo.
Portugal coach Roberto Martinez said it was lucky that the supporters who ran on to the pitch were only trying to take photographs.
“It is a concern because today we were lucky that the intentions of the fans were good,” said Martinez.
“It is a very difficult moment if those intentions are wrong... probably we should give a message to the fans that it is not the right way.”
UEFA said any spectators entering the field of play will be thrown out of the stadium, be banned for further matches and face “the filing of a formal criminal complaint for trespass.”
Portugal qualified for the last 16 with their comfortable win over Turkiye as Group F winners.