All roads lead to Jeddah for World Football Summit Asia

All roads lead to Jeddah for World Football Summit Asia
The second edition of World Football Summit Asia will take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on the 12th-13th of December 2023. (WFS Asia)
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Updated 07 December 2023
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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.


FIA president: Red Bull boss Christian Horner controversy is ‘damaging the sport’ — report

FIA president: Red Bull boss Christian Horner controversy is ‘damaging the sport’ — report
Updated 26 sec ago
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FIA president: Red Bull boss Christian Horner controversy is ‘damaging the sport’ — report

FIA president: Red Bull boss Christian Horner controversy is ‘damaging the sport’ — report
SAKHIR, Bahrain: The president of Formula 1’s governing body told the Financial Times the controversy around Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is damaging the sport, but that the FIA won’t conduct its own inquiry unless it receives a complaint.
Ahead of Saturday’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Horner arrived at the F1 paddock holding hands with his wife Geri Halliwell, who is better known as Ginger Spice of the pop group the Spice Girls.
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said any complaint lodged with its compliance officer would be investigated but it had not received one related to Horner’s situation and would not “jump the gun,” the Financial Times reported.
“It’s damaging the sport,” Ben Sulayem told the newspaper, which added that he was speaking Friday after a meeting with Horner. “This is damaging on a human level.”
On Wednesday, the team’s parent company dismissed a complaint of alleged misconduct by Horner toward a team employee. A day later during practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix, a file alleged to contain evidence against Horner was emailed to nearly 200 people in the F1 paddock, including Liberty Media, F1, the FIA, the other nine team principals and multiple media outlets.
The authenticity of the files has not been verified by The Associated Press; the file came from a generic email account.
Horner has denied wrongdoing and said in a statement issued Thursday that he would not “comment on anonymous speculation.”
Three-time defending champion Max Verstappen said after qualifying on pole position Friday that Horner was “fully committed to the team” but that his team principal was also “probably a little bit distracted.”

Rublev defaulted and defending champ Medvedev knocked out in Dubai semifinals

Rublev defaulted and defending champ Medvedev knocked out in Dubai semifinals
Updated 02 March 2024
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Rublev defaulted and defending champ Medvedev knocked out in Dubai semifinals

Rublev defaulted and defending champ Medvedev knocked out in Dubai semifinals
  • Second-seeded Russian yells in the face of a line judge, gets defaulted for unsportsmanlike conduct

DUBAI: Andrey Rublev was defaulted from his semifinal at the Dubai Championships for yelling in the face of a line judge, allowing Alexander Bublik to advance to the final on Friday.
Also, defending champion Daniil Medvedev was knocked out in the other semi by Ugo Humbert 7-5, 6-3.
The second-seeded Rublev erupted after Bublik won a point to take a 6-5 lead in the deciding set.
The Russian, who is ranked No. 5, immediately pointed to the baseline, walked to the line judge, leaned over and shouted in his face.
ATP supervisor Roland Herfel came to the court accompanied by a Russian speaker, who said Rublev swore in his native language.
Rublev responded: “I was talking to him in English.” He insisted he did not use profanity.
But umpire Miriam Bley defaulted Rublev for unsportsmanlike conduct, after which the seventh-seeded Bublik said “I’m OK to continue” with the match.
Bublik won 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-5.
Rublev won the hard-court tournament in 2022 but lost to Medvedev in last year’s final.
The No. 4-ranked Medvedev was undone by Humbert for the third time in four matchups. Humbert was aggressive, and his left-handed serve sent the Russian top seed wide to open up the court.
“I played the perfect match today,” Humbert said.
The Frenchman’s confidence has been high since he won the Marseille title three weeks ago. That was his was fifth career title. He’s never lost a final.
The big-serving Bublik is looking for his fifth singles title. The Kazakh player won Montpellier last month.


Evenepoel, Roglic get Tour de France taste at Paris-Nice

Evenepoel, Roglic get Tour de France taste at Paris-Nice
Updated 02 March 2024
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Evenepoel, Roglic get Tour de France taste at Paris-Nice

Evenepoel, Roglic get Tour de France taste at Paris-Nice
  • Tour de France will conclude with what should be a thrilling individual time-trial along the winding corniche from Monaco to the Riviera city Nice, where Paris-Nice also concludes on March 10
  • Paris-Nice is the first significant stage race of the season and packs all the difficulties of a Grand Tour into eight stages

PARIS: Cycling fans can enjoy a tantalizing peek at how the Tour de France may culminate in July when the Paris-Nice stage race sets off on Sunday toward a finale on the Promenade des Anglais on the Mediterranean seafront.

Due to the Olympic Games being hosted in Paris in July, the conclusion of the Tour de France has been switched away from its traditional Champs Elysees finish line in the French capital.

Instead it will conclude with what should be a thrilling individual time-trial along the winding corniche from Monaco to the Riviera city Nice, where Paris-Nice also concludes on March 10.

Neither Jonas Vingegaard nor Tadej Pogacar, winners of the last four Tour de France races, will be present at Paris-Nice.

But the other members of the so called ‘Fab Four’ fighting for the 2024 Tour title — Belgium’s Remco Evenepoel and Slovenian veteran Primoz Roglic — will be at the start line.

Belgian maverick Evenepoel has not only never raced a Tour de France, he has never even taken part in a stage race in the country.

“It’s a big race for us,” Evenepoel’s sports director Klaas Lodewyck said this week. “We’re aiming high.”

At 34, Roglic is cursed to be forever remembered for surrendering a 90-second Tour de France lead in a gut-wrenching last-gasp meltdown on the Planche des Belle Filles climb back in 2020.

Paris-Nice is the first significant stage race of the season and packs all the difficulties of a Grand Tour into eight stages.

Embarking from the Paris region, the race is affectionately known as the ‘Race to the Sun’.

The forecast predicts a windy stage in the plains south of Paris where the bigger, more powerful cyclists can prosper.

There’s a time trial for those who can maintain high performance over 30km, a medium mountain climb for the slender climbers, at least two finishes for the sprinters, and a chance for daredevils to shine in a thrilling finale out of the mountainous back country to the seafront at Nice.

Sunday’s opening run is largely flat but two late climbs may close the door for the outright fast men such as Fabio Jakobsen and Dylan Groenewegen of the Netherlands and Ireland’s Sam Bennett.

The first two stages will depend on the winds but are likely to offer at least one mass bunch sprint as will stage five.

Stage four takes the peloton over seven climbs through the picture-postcard Beaujolais vineyards.

Roglic and Evenepoel will likely come top two in the team time trial where teams set off together but will be timed individually.

The idea is that teams will deliver Evenepoel and Roglic before splintering as they send their leading contenders up the road near the finish.

The final weekend is likely to be where the race is decided with Saturday featuring a 7km climb at 7.2 percent incline toward a summit finish that favors Roglic.

Sunday’s final short but tough 108km rush toward old Nice favors Evenepoel and finishes with a white knuckle 16km downhill dash to the Promenade des Anglais.

 

Route

Sunday 3 March 1: Les Mureaux-Les Mureaux, 157.7 km

Monday 4 March, Stage 2: Thoiry-Montargis, 177.6 km

Tuesday 5 March, Stage 3: Auxerre-Auxerre (team time trial), 26.9 km

Wednesday 6 March, Stage 4: Chalon-sur-Saône-Mont Brouilly, 183 km

Thursday 7 March, Stage 5: Saint-Sauveur-de-Montagut- Sisteron, 193.5 km

Friday 8 March, Stage 6: Sisteron-La-Colle-sur-Loup, 198.2 km

Saturday 9 March, Stage 7: Nice-Auron, 173 km

Sunday 10 March, Stage 8: Nice-Nice, 109.3 km


Coleman trumps Lyles, Crouser dominant in World Athletics Indoor Championships

Coleman trumps Lyles, Crouser dominant in World Athletics Indoor Championships
Updated 02 March 2024
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Coleman trumps Lyles, Crouser dominant in World Athletics Indoor Championships

Coleman trumps Lyles, Crouser dominant in World Athletics Indoor Championships
  • Coleman led from gun to tape, scorching to victory in 6.41 seconds, the fastest time run over the distance this season
  • Double Olympic champion Ryan Crouser, also a two-time world outdoor gold medallist, improved on the world indoor silver he won in Belgrade two years ago with victory in the shot put

GLASGOW: Noah Lyles’ quest for four global titles this year came unhinged after Christian Coleman outsprinted him for gold in the 60m at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow on Friday.

Coleman led from gun to tape, scorching to victory in 6.41 seconds, the fastest time run over the distance this season.

It was the world record holder’s second world indoor sprint title after previously winning in 2018.

“You’ve got to put those 10,000 hours in, get the reps in time and time again and analyze, keep getting better at things you don’t do well,” Coleman said about his secret for success.

“I feel just more excited about me being in my prime and having the opportunity ahead of me,” he said of the prospect of competing at the Paris Olympics, having missed out on the Tokyo Games because of a doping ban.

Lyles, who was targeting this race as a springboard to an assault on a treble golden haul at the Paris Olympics this summer, took silver in 6.44sec, with Jamaican Ackeem Blake claiming bronze (6.46).

“I wasn’t happy, but I’m OK with it because it’s 6.44, the second fastest time I’ve ever produced, so I’m never going to be dissatisfied with that,” Lyles said.

“These guys in the 60 really don’t have any chance outdoor! I’m extremely excited for every race to come next.”

Lyles said the indoor season had allowed him to better the worst part of his race, the start, “by drastic numbers so I’m just happy to go back home and apply it to the 100 and 200m.”

“It shows that you aren’t going to run away from away me at the beginning of that race anymore.”

In a good night for the US team, double Olympic champion Ryan Crouser, also a two-time world outdoor gold medallist, improved on the world indoor silver he won in Belgrade two years ago with victory in the shot put.

The American world record holder went out to a dominant 22.77 meters with his fifth effort, New Zealand’s Tom Walsh taking silver with 22.07m and Italy’s Leonardo Fabbri bronze (21.96).

“It’s a great stepping stone toward the Olympics,” Crouser said. “I’m looking forward to outdoors.”

Australian Nicola Olyslagers claimed gold in the women’s high jump, clearing 1.99m for her first global title after Olympic silver and world bronze outdoors.

Defending world indoor and outdoor champion Yaroslava Mahuchikh of Ukraine had to be happy with silver with her best of 1.97m., Slovenia’s Lia Apostolovski taking bronze (1.95).

Finland’s Saga Vanninen went into the 800m, the final event of the five-discipline women’s pentathlon with a nine-point lead over Belgium’s Noor Vidts.

But Vidts finished seven seconds ahead of the Finnish rival in the strength-sapping four-lap finale to defend her title with a combined total of 4,773 points.

Vidts clocked 8.27sec in the 60m hurdles and managed bests of 1.79m in the high jump, 14.26m in the shot put and 6.50m in the long jump.

Vanninen took silver with 4,677pts, with Sofie Dokter of the Netherlands claiming bronze (4,571).

Two of the biggest stars on show in Glasgow, 400m hurdlers Femke Bol and Karsten Warholm both qualified easily for their respective 400m finals scheduled for 2100 and 2110 GMT on Saturday.

Warholm, the world record holder, three-time outdoor champion and Olympic gold medallist in the 400m hurdles, clocked 45.86sec to win his semifinal.

Bol, the two-time world 400m hurdles champion fresh from having broken her own world 400m indoor record of 49.24sec last month, clocked 50.66sec to book her place in the top-six showdown.


Algerian Muay Thai veteran Mehdi Zatout comes out of retirement to win boxing debut at ONE 166

Algerian Muay Thai veteran Mehdi Zatout comes out of retirement to win boxing debut at ONE 166
Updated 02 March 2024
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Algerian Muay Thai veteran Mehdi Zatout comes out of retirement to win boxing debut at ONE 166

Algerian Muay Thai veteran Mehdi Zatout comes out of retirement to win boxing debut at ONE 166
  • The 40-year-old overcame previously undefeated Saudi boxer Zuhayr Al-Qahtani in Qatar

Two years ago, former ISKA and WBC Muay Thai World Champion Mehdi Zatout stood inside the ONE Circle with his family as tears streamed down his face.

He had just been awarded a $50,000 bonus for scoring a knockout in what would be the last fight of his decorated Muay Thai career.

Fast-forward to ONE 166 in Qatar, where the 40-year-old was presented with an opportunity he couldn’t refuse – coming out of retirement to make his boxing debut against the undefeated Zuhayr Al-Qahtani.

Fittingly, Zatout made his walkout to “Gonna Fly Now,” the iconic theme song from Rocky (1976).

In a 147lb catchweight bout of 3x3 minute rounds, Zatout exuded confidence from the outset and used his superior reach.

The Algerian connected with a couple of right hands early in the first round.

Al-Qahtani attempted to get on the inside and go to the body using his jab. Zatout advanced with his hands down and was clipped with a right hook toward the end of the opening stanza, but he had landed cleaner shots overall.

The veteran, who trains out of the Venum Training Camp in Pattaya, dropped Al-Qahtani with a left hook in the second, but the knockdown was not scored due to Zatout’s use of dirty boxing in grabbing the back of the Saudi fighter’s head.

Al-Qahtani landed a right hook upstairs, and with the contest slipping away from him, he was under pressure to pick up the pace. He charged forward with his head ducked low and landed a jab on the inside but was getting countered, with Zatout showing slick movement.

“Diamond Heart” had been showboating throughout the contest. With his hands by his sides, he goaded his opponent, pointing at his chin, willing the Saudi to try and hit him in the third round.

“The Arabian Warrior” was moving in recklessly, and Zatout appeared to mock his wild punches, giving the crowd a big smile as he landed a pair of right hands before flexing his muscles. Zatout was clearly there to entertain and sailed toward the unanimous decision.

This was Al-Qahtani’s first fight since 2019, so ring rust may have been a factor as he endured his first professional loss and slipped to 9-1.

“It was a dream come true,” Zatout told Arab News. “I was thinking all my career that I would love to fight in boxing shoes with a jacket, Rocky music. Like a kid’s dream and it was realized today so it was amazing for me.”

In terms of how the fight went, he said: “I’m not especially happy about myself. I was looking for more domination. More striking. But the opponent was short, going too low and the clinch in boxing was not allowed. But it’s OK, it was a pleasure.”

Despite being 40, Zatout clearly enjoyed himself and hasn’t ruled out another go.

“I called it ‘The Last Dance’ but when you’re not happy about your performance … let’s see. I’m a busy man, but you never know!”

Earlier on the card, Yemen’s Osamah Almarwai was submitted by Cleber Sousa in their ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling match.

Both men went hunting for leg locks in the early stages but trouble came for the ATOS man when the Brazilian began relentlessly attacking Osa’s arm.

“Clandestino” had a couple of armbar attempts before transitioning to the back. From there, he went hunting for the rear-naked choke.

Both men were coming off losses to the champion, Mikey Musumeci, on their ONE debuts, and Sousa looked intent on returning to winning ways.

He continued to pressure and sought a kimura before unleashing another armbar attempt. Danger beckoned for the Saudi-born fighter as his opponent wrapped him up in an inverted triangle choke. The anguish showed on Almarwai’s face as Sousa finally secured the armbar after 5 minutes and 31 seconds.

The South American now has an impressive 54 submissions on his CV, while Osamah slides to 0-2 since arriving in ONE Championship.

In the main event, there was a slice of history for Anatoly Malykhin, who is the only MMA fighter to simultaneously hold three world title belts in a major organization.

The Russian finished Middleweight champion Reinier De Ridder in the second round with a grounded knee, having scored a first-round finish with punches in their first meeting in 2022.

“Sladkiy” was awarded a $50,000 bonus and now adds the Dutchman’s Middleweight belt to his Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight titles. He stands with the distinction of being both undefeated and a triple champ.