Saudi Arabia’s Aramco set to complete major FIFA sponsorship deal: Reports

Saudi Arabia’s Aramco set to complete major FIFA sponsorship deal: Reports
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Updated 17 November 2023
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Saudi Arabia’s Aramco set to complete major FIFA sponsorship deal: Reports

Saudi Arabia’s Aramco set to complete major FIFA sponsorship deal: Reports

LONDON: Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco is set to complete a sponsorship deal with FIFA, according to a report in The Times newspaper.

Sources close to the negotiations told the paper that the deal, expected to run until 2034, is worth an estimated $100 million a year.

Talks are at an “advanced stage,” the sources added, and come after the Kingdom was confirmed as the sole bidder for the FIFA World Cup in 2034.

If agreed, the sponsorship deal will make Aramco FIFA’s biggest-paying sponsor.

Aramco declined to comment on the report, and FIFA responded by saying it was not part of its policy to “confirm or deny any commercial discussions,” The Times reported.

The oil giant already has major sponsorship deals with Formula 1 and the women’s golf circuit, as well as with the International Cricket Council for the Cricket World Cup and the Indian Premier League.


‘I’m doing this for all of Palestine’ says Waseem Abu Sal on making boxing history

‘I’m doing this for all of Palestine’ says Waseem Abu Sal on making boxing history
Updated 16 July 2024
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‘I’m doing this for all of Palestine’ says Waseem Abu Sal on making boxing history

‘I’m doing this for all of Palestine’ says Waseem Abu Sal on making boxing history
  • The 20-year-old fighter from Ramallah, who received a wildcard spot to Paris 2024, is the first-ever Palestinian boxer to take part in the Olympics

DUBAI: Despite the challenges of checkpoints, roadblocks and casualty updates from Gaza, Waseem Abu Sal has surpassed all previous achievements by a Palestinian boxer with his wildcard spot at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Not surprisingly, this milestone has not come without tremendous sacrifice, with the everyday struggles of living in the occupied West Bank presenting a far more formidable battle than the endless rounds he faces in the ring.

Over the last 12 months, Abu Sal has spent every waking moment preparing for the Olympics. He underwent training camps in Morocco and Jordan in 2023, competed in tournaments in Algeria and Russia, and wrapped up his preparations in China for the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou last September. Although he did not secure an Olympic spot in the qualifying events, earning a wildcard spot has reignited his hopes for success on the grand stage.

“I’m going to the Olympics not just for myself, but for all of Palestine,” said the 20-year-old, who will be fighting in th 57 kg category in Paris. “I’m fighting to show the world our dignity and to preserve our identity. It’s important to me and to the Palestinian Olympic Committee. My message is one of peace, but also to show the world that we are strong and resilient.”

Abu Sal is poised to enter the ring for his debut Olympic bout on July 28 at the Roland Garros Stadium in the French capital, where he will be among 248 boxers from 70 countries vying for gold.

His journey to such exalted company began at age 10 when his father took him to Elbarrio Gym in Ramallah, with a vision far beyond giving his son a mere hobby or self-defense skills.

Even at such an early stage, he aspired for his Waseem to become an Olympian, and barely 10 years on from that day, the dream of an Olympic ticket has became a reality.

Nader Jayousi, head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee and owner of Elbarrio Gym, has been instrumental in guiding and coaching Abu Sal. His Gazan coach, Ahmed Harara, restricted by occupation barriers between the West Bank and Gaza, supports him remotely by sending daily training schedules.

With Harara only being able to meet Abu Sal during international competitions, the boxer trains each morning and then again in the evening under the guidance of Jayousi.

After the Asian Games last October, the onset of the war in Gaza significantly intensified the challenges Abu Sal faced. Initially, Israel imposed a mandatory halt on all sports activities. As the conflict escalated during the final qualifying rounds, Abu Sal’s training opportunities were severely limited.

Training in Palestine has become increasingly perilous due to a rise in checkpoints, military presence and settler violence, complicating travel even between West Bank cities and thus restricting his access to sparring partners. For international travel, Abu Sal must undertake a journey by road from Ramallah to Amman, Jordan, to catch a flight — if he is fortunate enough not to be denied an entry visa.

Despite the hardships — witnessing his friends trapped in Jordan, unable to return to Gaza, and suffering the loss of family members and injuries due to the conflict — Abu Sal channeled the pain into his training. The devastating impact of the conflict has taken a toll on Abu Sal and his teammates, yet it has also fueled his determination to continue working toward his Olympic goals.

As part of the Olympic preparation program, the Olympic Committee provides support through supplements, training and international travel, significantly boosting performance.

“This support has led to a historic achievement, with seven athletes traveling to the Olympics this year,” said Jayousi. “When applying for wildcard entries, we chose to focus on the best-performing athletes. We aimed to highlight the high level of talent emerging from Palestine, showcasing our potential on the global stage.”

Abu Sal has been winning medals internationally since 2018. He has come a long way since, and compared to the challenges of his daily life, no goal is too big for the fighter from Ramallah.

With the Paris Olympics only 10 days away, Abu Sal is now undergoing a specific training period. Having traveled to France for a two-week international training camp on July 4, he will reunite with his squad at the Olympic village starting from July 20.


New UAE body to introduce winter sports, esports and strongman contests

New UAE body to introduce winter sports, esports and strongman contests
Updated 16 July 2024
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New UAE body to introduce winter sports, esports and strongman contests

New UAE body to introduce winter sports, esports and strongman contests
  • Ice hockey, figure skating, short-track speed skating and curling on the list of sports for UAE

DUBAI: A new body has been launched in the UAE to introduce winter sports, esports, strongman and other physical activities in the country.

The announcement of the new organization, the Association for the Development of Corporate Sports, was made on July 10 in Dubai by Emirates Sports Group.

The plan is to introduce several winter sports including ice hockey, figure skating, short-track speed skating, curling, and drone events.

Vladimir Burdun, co-founder of the ADSC and CEO of Emirates Sports Group, said: “The biggest part of our association is education. So, we educate people how to do things properly.

“We help them set things up. How to deal with the big corporate clients. How to involve them with this kind of sport.”

He said the aim is to have 1,000 companies join the association in the UAE, especially in Dubai, as well as 50 to 60 countries.

Mohammad Abbas Ahmad Ali Alblooshi, general-secretary of the ADCS, said: “Thanks to my brother Vladimir, who has been with me for a long time.

“Thank you again to the UAE government for the biggest support which we always receive in everything we do. And, of course, many thanks to the Community Development Authority.”

Ilya Galaev, co-founder of the ADCS, added: “Here are so many new initiatives which corporate sports are bringing to the table. The large ice hockey arena that is being built here will also be very interesting.”

He said the organization would also look at developing other sports including bowling and darts.

Burdun added: “We have already attracted interest from several countries and plans to host major events in Dubai, as this is the best place for ambitious sports development goals.

“We have already had a small congress where about 21 countries participated.”


Team Falcons top Esports World Cup Club Championship standings after two weeks of action

Team Falcons top Esports World Cup Club Championship standings after two weeks of action
Updated 16 July 2024
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Team Falcons top Esports World Cup Club Championship standings after two weeks of action

Team Falcons top Esports World Cup Club Championship standings after two weeks of action
  • Saudi team won the Free Fire event at world’s biggest gaming festival, which runs until Aug. 25 at Boulevard Riyadh City

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian side Team Falcons have toped the Esports World Cup Club Championship standings after the conclusion of the second week of competition.

Team Falcons claimed Free Fire gold and 1,000 points on Sunday night to add to the 600 points picked up in Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, which also ended on Sunday. Team Falcons, who top the table with 2,600 points, won Call of Duty: Warzone, the opening tournament of the Esports World Cup, in week one.

Selangor Red Giants, who defeated Team Falcons 4-3 in an epic best-of-seven Mobile Legends: Bang Bang final, sit in second place in the Club Championship standings with 1,000 points.

T1, the South Korean powerhouses who stormed to League of Legends glory thanks to the exploits of gaming superstar Faker, are third with 1,000 points. With 350 points acquired in Warzone, Saudi side, Twisted Minds, are joint eighth.

Faisal bin Homran, chief product officer at the Esports World Cup, said: “The first two weeks of the Esports World Cup produced tournaments and matches that have captured the imagination of gaming fans across the globe. The standard of play has been at the highest level with moments of magic to last long in the memory.

“A special mention must go to the clubs and players who have put on such enthralling performances for the multitude of fans watching in person at the SEF Arena at Boulevard Riyadh City and online from every part of the world. We hope their achievements provide inspiration to the next generation of gamers in Saudi Arabia and far beyond.”

The eight-week Esports World Cup, which features a cross-game structure pitting the world’s top clubs and players against one another across 22 global competitions in 21 leading games, runs until Aug. 25 at Boulevard Riyadh City. The tournament has a prize pool of $60 million, the largest in the history of esports.

More than 1,500 players, representing more than 60 nationalities, are battling it out at the Esports World Cup. Week three begins on Wednesday with competitions taking place in the Dota2 Riyadh Masters, Counter-Strike 2, and PUBG Mobile.


Brian Harman starts his British Open title defense by returning the claret jug

Brian Harman starts his British Open title defense by returning the claret jug
Updated 16 July 2024
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Brian Harman starts his British Open title defense by returning the claret jug

Brian Harman starts his British Open title defense by returning the claret jug
  • The homecoming of the claret jug was an unofficial way to launch the start of the final men’s major of the year
  • After handing off the jug, Harman headed out to see Royal Troon for the first time

TROON, Scotland: Of all the recent traditions in the Royal & Ancient game, what Brian Harman took part in on Monday afternoon might be the least enjoyable.

Returning the claret jug.

The formal handover of the British Open trophy required a little pomp. Harman was in the back seat of an SUV. The destination was not much longer than the 40-foot birdie putt he made last year on the 14th hole on his way to winning the Open. But he had to wait for the film crew to be set, for the traffic on the road to clear.

“It’s all yours,” Harman told Martin Slumbers, the R&A CEO who took back golf’s oldest trophy that apparently has seen its share of the finest wine and bourbon in the year since Harman won at Royal Liverpool.

Harman is a straight shooter — with a rifle, with his mouth and last year with his putter — but a staged moment as this didn’t bother him.

“In my opinion, it’s the coolest trophy in all of sports,” Harman said. “So I think it’s deserving of all of the pageantry that’s involved with it.”

Getting it back by the end of the week is the real challenge.

The homecoming of the claret jug was an unofficial way to launch the start of the final men’s major of the year. The 152nd Open Championship begins Thursday on the Scottish links along the Firth of Clyde on the Irish Sea.

Royal Troon is renowned for its pot bunkers that are so deep they effectively serve as a one-shot penalty when tee shots find them on the longer holes. The outward holes are shorter with the prevailing wind, the inward holes are longer and into the wind.

“You have to take them on,” Scottie Scheffler said.

Harman had gone six years without a win until putting together a masterpiece last year to lead over the final 51 holes and win by six. He hasn’t won since then, a matter of getting his putter to cooperate. He hopes that’s the case this week.

“You can work and work and work. You just never know when that work is going to pay off,” Harman said. “You never know when the peak is coming. You never know when you’re going to catch a little bit of momentum. So you just have to hope it’s a big week.”

No one has won back to back in the British Open since Padraig Harrington in 2007 (Carnoustie) and 2008 (Royal Birkdale). Go back to 1960 and the list of repeat winners includes only Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino and Arnold Palmer.

“A little sad to give it back, but I’ll remember everywhere it’s been forever,” Harman said. “I’m happy to give it back, happy to be here. Ready to get going.”

Royal Troon is green and lush, and the rough is particularly thick at the base of turf. This isn’t likely to be a bright and sunny week along the Ayrshire coast, and the links have been busy.

Woods arrived Sunday and went 18 holes, spending much of his time chipping and putting. His son Charlie is not with him, instead at home preparing for the US Junior Amateur next week outside Detroit.

Scheffler got into the competitive spirit, playing alongside Sam Burns as they took some cash from PGA champion Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.

After handing off the jug, Harman headed out to see Royal Troon for the first time. Monday was largely a day of reflection and he was eager to move forward.

But it was a good year, even without another win. He took the jug to Georgia Bulldogs football and Atlanta Braves baseball games. He took it everywhere he could, a reminder of reaching the pinnacle of his sport.

“You never know how it’s going to go, but just the reception from everyone back home was overwhelming, just how excited everyone was,” he said. “I was obviously very excited, but to be able to share that excitement with people that I care about was probably the best.”

Harman was among several players who came across the coast from the Scottish Open last week, a list that included Robert MacIntyre, though his immediately whereabouts could not be confirmed. MacIntire won the Scottish with an eagle-par-birdie finish and promised he would “celebrate hard” as the first Scot to win his national open in 25 years.

He was scheduled for a press conference Monday afternoon. It was rescheduled for Wednesday afternoon. That was a big win for him. Next up is one even bigger.


US holds off Australia for 98-92 win in Olympics tuneup in Abu Dhabi

US holds off Australia for 98-92 win in Olympics tuneup in Abu Dhabi
Updated 16 July 2024
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US holds off Australia for 98-92 win in Olympics tuneup in Abu Dhabi

US holds off Australia for 98-92 win in Olympics tuneup in Abu Dhabi
  • The US led by 24 midway through the third quarter, yet saw that lead cut to six with 5:05 left after Australia went on a 39-21 run

There was a lot for the US Olympic team to like on Monday. And a lot not to like.
Anthony Davis scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, Tyrese Haliburton came up with a pair of late 3-pointers that helped stop a freefall by the Americans, and the US beat Australia 98-92 on Monday to improve to 2-0 in its five-game slate of exhibitions leading into the Paris Olympics.
Devin Booker scored 16 for the US, Anthony Edwards scored 14 and three players — LeBron James, Bam Adebayo and Joel Embiid — finished with 10 for the Americans, who are playing host to a pair of exhibitions at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, this week. They’ll play Serbia there on Wednesday.
Jock Landale scored 20 for Australia, which got 17 from Josh Giddey and 14 from Dyson Daniels.
The US led by 24 midway through the third quarter, yet saw that lead cut to six with 5:05 left after Australia went on a 39-21 run. But Haliburton had the next six points on his 3s, pushing the lead back to 92-80.
Australia cut it to four on two separate occasions, but Booker went 4-for-4 from the line in the final 8 seconds to ensure the US would escape.
“Third quarter, we started turning the ball over,” US coach Steve Kerr said. “We gave up a ton of points at the basket. Back cuts, offensive boards and so, the game shifted. It’s a good lesson for us. Better to learn that lesson now than later. And this will be a good tape for us to watch. But I give Australia a ton of credit. They were great. They fought. They were really physical. Took it to us in the last quarter and a half and really made it a game.”
Second unit, again
Just like in the Canada game, the so-called second unit — Haliburton, Jrue Holiday, Adebayo, Davis and Booker — changed the game.
That was the group on the floor when the Americans took a game that was tied at 19-19 with 3:15 left in the first and turned it into a 39-23 lead — a 20-4 run in a span of just over 5 minutes.
Kerr used that group as his starting five to open the second half. But it’s become a clear trend already: when the US goes to its bench and can replace All-Stars with other All-Stars, it’s just going to be a massive problem for opponents who don’t have anywhere near that same level of depth.
“The strength of our team is our depth and we have to utilize our depth,” Kerr said.
It’s been something the Americans have used to their advantage in the past. Dwyane Wade led the gold-medalist 2008 US Olympic team in points, even though he was sixth in minutes on that team and came off the bench in all eight games.
Turnovers
Here’s the big trouble sign right now for the US: turnovers.
FIBA games are shorter than NBA games, 40 minutes instead of 48 minutes. That means there are fewer possessions and makes it even more imperative to not give the ball away.
Which the Americans did. A lot.
After committing 15 turnovers in last week’s exhibition win over Canada, the US had 18 giveaways on Monday and Australia used them to fuel the comeback effort — getting 25 points off turnovers in the second half alone.
“Our turnovers, it’s all about focus and execution,” Davis said.
Injury watch
Kevin Durant missed his second consecutive game because of a calf strain, and with only one practice between games it wouldn’t seem likely that he plays Wednesday against Serbia either.
Derrick White, who arrived in Abu Dhabi over the weekend and got into his first practice with the team on Sunday, also didn’t play. White replaced Kawhi Leonard — who deals with knee issues — on the US roster after the Americans determined last week that it wasn’t in Leonard’s best interest to play this summer.