Fans, athletes show support for Palestine in Latin American football

Fans, athletes show support for Palestine in Latin American football
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Flamengo Antifascista activists are seen with pro-Palestinian banner in stadium. (Courtesy: Club Deportivo Palestino)
Fans, athletes show support for Palestine in Latin American football
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Players get on their knees and pay respect for Palestinians killed in Gaza. (Courtesy: Club Deportivo Palestino)
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Updated 29 December 2023
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Fans, athletes show support for Palestine in Latin American football

Fans, athletes show support for Palestine in Latin American football
  • ‘It’s very important that we, footballers and coaches, always talk about the enormous injustice that’s happening in Palestine now,’ manager tells Arab News

SAO PAULO: With sizable Middle Eastern communities and historic ties to the region, Latin America has seen football as an avenue to express support for the Palestinian people amid the Gaza war.

Palestinian flags have been seen in stadiums during matches, something that has at times been repressed by police.

That was the case with a game in Buenos Aires between River Plate and Talleres on Oct. 8. A River Plate fan waving a Palestinian flag was detained for entering the stadium with unauthorized material.

On the same day, a Palestinian flag was spotted during a match between Cruz Azul and Pumas in Mexico.

In Brazil, Palestinian flags have been seen in stadiums on several occasions. On Nov. 1, members of the Flamengo Antifascista movement waved Palestinian flags during a match with Santos in Brasilia. On Nov. 26, fans of Sao Paulo waved Palestinian flags during a game with Cuiaba.

“On social media, groups connected to Sao Paulo’s fans’ organizations received posts in support of Palestine,” Bruno Mitsu Ferreira, who manages a Sao Paulo fan page on social media, told Arab News.

“A major leader of one of the most important fans’ organizations is a vocal supporter of the Palestinian people.”

Outside the stadiums, football fans’ organizations have joined pro-Palestinian demonstrations — wearing the colors of their clubs — in major Latin American cities such as Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo and Santiago.

The strongest manifestations of solidarity with Palestine in Latin American football have been in Chile, where an estimated 500,000 people of Palestinian descent live.

It is the home country of Club Deportivo Palestino, founded in Santiago in 1920 by members of the Palestinian community.

Palestino and its fans have been demonstrating against Israel’s attacks on Gaza since October. But they are not alone.

Fans and athletes of other teams have also expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people on different occasions.

“Despite FIFA’s prohibition, many people in Chile have been exhibiting banners with pro-Palestinian messages and waving flags in the stadiums,” Nicola Hadwa, a Palestinian-born football manager in Chile who has trained Palestine’s national team in the past, told Arab News.

In a match with Nublense, Palestino’s players got onto the field wearing keffiyehs and black ribbons.

Before the game, they observed a moment of silence and got on their knees. Nublense’s athletes accompanied them.

In another match, Palestino’s leaders decided to leave part of the stadium’s seats empty. A banner in front of them read: “In memory of those who are not here anymore.” 

Jose Sabat, manager of Club Deportivo Palestino’s academy, told Arab News: “It’s very important that we, footballers and coaches, always talk about the enormous injustice that’s happening in Palestine now.”

On Dec. 20, Palestino won the national junior league championship after defeating Magallanes.

Sabat, who is of Palestinian descent, dedicated the victory to the Palestinian people in an interview after the match.

“I’m immensely proud of exhibiting the Palestinian colors on our club’s jersey. I always try to make a small contribution and mention the events in Gaza (during interviews). We can’t get used to them,” he added.

Sabat visited Palestine in June in order to offer workshops to the young athletes who were training in academies linked to Palestino.

“It’s a shame to see so many children being victimized now. The effects of that catastrophe will be felt for a long time,” he said.

Sabat, who is a FIFA instructor, said: “Many people fear displeasing the football authorities by mentioning the Palestinian issue, but one needs to overcome that fear.

“I think more and more people will dare to talk about it. Football is part of our lives, as is Palestine. If I come to lose something for talking about Palestine, I won’t regret it.”


Saudi Arabian Football Federation hosts women’s coaching workshop

Saudi Arabian Football Federation hosts women’s coaching workshop
Updated 17 sec ago
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Saudi Arabian Football Federation hosts women’s coaching workshop

Saudi Arabian Football Federation hosts women’s coaching workshop
  • Topics included data analytics, injury prevention and team-building
  • Event attended by 32 coaches from Kingdom, Africa

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Football Federation held a five-day educational workshop on women’s football aimed at empowering coaches from the Kingdom and Africa.

The event in Riyadh, held in partnership with the Confederation of African Football, ran from May 14-18 and was attended by 32 coaches — 16 from CAF member associations and 16 from local sports clubs, regional training centers as well as the Saudi Arabian women’s national teams.

Lluis Cortes, head coach of the Saudi Arabia women’s national team, led the workshop, which also featured Aalia Al-Rasheed, head of the Women’s Football Department at SAFF, as well as elite international women’s football experts and prominent CAF officials.

“The success of this event demonstrates our commitment to fostering the growth and development of women’s football both in Saudi Arabia and across Africa,” Lamia Bahaian, vice president of the SAFF, said in a statement.

“Through these collaborative efforts, we aim to create a strong network of coaches who can share their experiences, support one another, and contribute to the global advancement of women’s football. The enthusiasm and dedication shown by the participants has been truly inspiring, and we are confident that their influence will be felt on and off the field.”

Aimed at improving coaching capabilities and expertise, the SAFF-CAF workshop included a variety of panel discussions, practical lessons and theoretical sessions.

Key football-related topics covered in the workshop included data analytics, female health and injury prevention, leadership and communication, and team-building.

The CAF member associations represented in Riyadh included Botswana, Burundi, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.


Maradona’s 1986 World Cup Golden Ball up for auction, a reminder of Argentine’s genius

Maradona’s 1986 World Cup Golden Ball up for auction, a reminder of Argentine’s genius
Updated 15 min 51 sec ago
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Maradona’s 1986 World Cup Golden Ball up for auction, a reminder of Argentine’s genius

Maradona’s 1986 World Cup Golden Ball up for auction, a reminder of Argentine’s genius
  • FIFA award for devastating displays in Mexico will be up for auction on June 6 at the world famous Aguttes International Auction House in Paris

Diego Maradona played once in Saudi Arabia, incredibly wearing the shirt of Jeddah powerhouse Al-Ahli in 1987, for a friendly game against Brondby of Denmark.

Yet it was the year before when he really made football history.

Many think Maradona is the best to have ever played the game, but all would surely agree that he was the star of the 1986 World Cup, and dragged Argentina to the title in heroic fashion. FIFA certainly thought so, and awarded the legend the Adidas Golden Ball trophy after it all finished, the prize given to the tournament’s best player.

Now, a piece of World Cup history is up for grabs, as the award is set to go up for auction on June 6 at the world famous Aguttes International Auction House in Paris. Serious interest is expected.

“At that 1986 World Cup, Diego shone like never before or since in his career; it was his monument,” Jorge Burruchaga, Argentina teammate of Maradona and scorer of the winning goal in the 1986 World Cup final as the South Americans defeated West Germany 3-2, said. “We knew we had the best player in the world, there was no doubt about it, we knew it for a fact.”

As dramatic as that final was, it is the 2-1 quarterfinal win against England in Mexico City that everyone remembers. Maradona’s first goal was the “Hand of God” goal, when he punched the ball into the net. It remains one of the most famous goals ever scored, matched only, perhaps, by the second he scored that day. Maradona picked the ball up from inside his own half, ran past half the England team, and the rest is history.

“My favorite recollection of this World Cup is the second goal he scored against England, which remains the most beautiful in history for me, because you must consider the state of the pitch, the altitude, the context between the two countries, and what he managed to do,” said Burruchaga.

“He breezed past six players ... It was divine. On that day, he created a lasting legacy for all Argentinian sportsmen and women, not just footballers, showing just how much you have to fight to be worthy of wearing the Argentine jersey.”

That shirt was handed by the man himself to England midfielder Steve Hodge at the final whistle. In 2022, it was sold at auction by Hodge for a figure reported to be around $7 million.

The golden ball, which was fittingly awarded to Maradona in Paris 38 years ago, is another piece of football history according to Francois Thierry, sports expert for Aguttes Auction House.

“Used far too often wrongly, the word ‘legend’ fits Diego Maradona perfectly,” Thierry said. “He is to football what Muhammad Ali is to boxing or Michael Jordan to basketball — an icon who goes far beyond the boundaries of his sport. He is certainly one of the most human athletes we have ever known, with his strengths and weaknesses. The golden kid, ‘El Pibe de Oro,’ is a special case … The history of football with a capital H is closely linked to that of Maradona.”


Hamdy gives Zamalek second CAF Confederation Cup title

Hamdy gives Zamalek second CAF Confederation Cup title
Updated 20 May 2024
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Hamdy gives Zamalek second CAF Confederation Cup title

Hamdy gives Zamalek second CAF Confederation Cup title
  • The two-leg final finished 2-2 on aggregate with the Cairo club winning the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League on away goals
  • It was a historic triumph for Zamalek boss Jose Gomes, who became the first Portuguese coach to win the Confederation Cup

CAIRO: Ahmed Hamdy scored midway through the first half to give Zamalek of Egypt a 1-0 victory over Renaissance Berkane of Morocco on Sunday and a second CAF Confederation Cup title.

The two-leg final finished 2-2 on aggregate with the Cairo club winning the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League on away goals.

The previous Zamalek triumph in the second-tier competition also came against Berkane with the Egyptians winning on penalties in 2019 after another aggregate draw.

It was a historic triumph for Zamalek boss Jose Gomes, who became the first Portuguese coach to win the Confederation Cup.

Zamalek made one change to the team that started the first leg in Morocco last Sunday with Senegalese Ibrahima Ndiaye replacing Nigeria-born fellow winger Samson Akinyoola.

Berkane were unchanged with Burkina Faso center-back Issoufou Dayo captaining the team and Senegalese Paul Bassene leading the attack.

A sell-out crowd in the 75,000-capacity Cairo International Stadium cheered, chanted and waved large flags as Zamalek attacked relentlessly in the early stages.

It seemed a matter of time before Berkane conceded, and Zamalek took the lead on 23 minutes through Hamdy, a midfielder who joined the White Knights four months ago.

An attempted clearance by Berkane was blocked and Ahmed ‘Zizo’ Sayed pushed the ball to unmarked Hamdy, who rifled a low shot wide of goalkeeper Hamza Hamiani into the corner of the net.

Level on aggregate but behind on away goals, Berkane came out of their defensive shell and Dayo almost levelled soon after with a far-post header after a free kick.

Paul Bassene had his first sight of goal on 32 minutes, but blazed over, then Yassine Labhiri was much closer to equalising with a shot from just outside the area.

Zamalek finished the opening half strongly and Berkane had to defend desperately with defenders blocking several goal attempts after Hamiani failed to grasp a cross.

The Berkane goalkeeper nearly gifted Zamalek a second goal just past the hour mark as he initially hesitated to clear the ball and came close to being dispossessed by Seifeddine Jaziri.

Berkane threatened with 14 minutes remaining when awarded a free kick close to the area, but a poor attempt by Ayoub Khairi sailed over.

The Moroccans were reduced to 10 men two minutes into added time when Hamza El Moussaoui was red-carded for stamping on Zizo after fouling the winger.


Emotional Klopp tells fans ‘I love you to bits’ as his final match with Liverpool ends with a win

Emotional Klopp tells fans ‘I love you to bits’ as his final match with Liverpool ends with a win
Updated 20 May 2024
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Emotional Klopp tells fans ‘I love you to bits’ as his final match with Liverpool ends with a win

Emotional Klopp tells fans ‘I love you to bits’ as his final match with Liverpool ends with a win
  • Goals by Alexis Mac Allister and Jarell Quansah secured one last victory of the Klopp era
  • They lined the streets outside Anfield to welcome Klopp and his players and produced a paper mosaic of the word “JURGEN”

LIVERPOOL: The last time as Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp ran over to The Kop and delivered those repeated fist pumps that have been his signature during his transformational spell at Anfield.
The Liverpool fans — many with tears in their eyes, just like some of the team’s players -responded with a series of deafening roars, and then cheered Klopp as he did a circuit of the field.
Soon enough, he had disappeared out of view down the tunnel.
Gone, but never forgotten.
“I’m one of you now — I love you to bits,” Klopp said among his last words as he addressed the crowd inside Anfield after his final game as Liverpool’s manager, a 2-0 win over Wolverhampton on Sunday.
The match on the final day of the Premier League season doubled as a tribute to a German coach who led Liverpool to seven major trophies in his nearly nine years at Anfield and forged such a connection with the city that he has been compared to Bill Shankly — the club’s legendary manager from 1959-74.
No wonder Klopp looked emotional throughout an afternoon that Liverpool fans never wanted to come.
They lined the streets outside Anfield to welcome Klopp and his players, and then produced a paper mosaic of the word “JURGEN” in the stand opposite the dugouts as he emerged for the game.
“People are calling it The Last Dance. So let’s dance,” Klopp told Sky Sports just off the field before kickoff – and Liverpool obliged by strolling to one final victory for Klopp thanks to goals by Alexis Mac Allister and Jarell Quansah.
In some ways, it was business as usual for Klopp.
He touched the “This is Anfield” sign in the tunnel on the way out to the pitch.
He patrolled the middle of the field with his hands behind his back during the warmups, watching his own team — and then, with that trademark glare, his opponents.
He waved to fans behind the Liverpool dugout and tapped his heart just ahead of kickoff, before soaking in an emotionally charged rendition of the club’s anthem, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
“This morning I woke up,” Klopp said before the game, “and I was completely in game mode.”
The farewell party really started after the final whistle, which he marked by embracing each member of his backroom staff and also Wolves manager Gary O’Neil. Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk was in tears as he hugged Klopp near the center circle.
The goodbye celebrations reached a crescendo as Klopp walked back out onto the field about 45 minutes after fulltime, wearing a red hoodie with the words “Thank You Luv” on the front and “I’ll Never Walk Alone” on the back, to speak to the crowd one last time.
“It doesn’t feel like an end. It feels like a start,” Klopp said. “Because I saw a football team full of youth, full of creativity, full of desire.
“For a few weeks, I got too much attention and it feels really uncomfortable but this time I realize a lot of things. People told me I turned them from doubters into believers. That’s not true. Believing is an act. You had to do it yourself. You did it. And nobody tells you now to stop believing.”
With Liverpool right back Trent Alexander-Arnold now in tears, Klopp continued in his speech to the home fans: “Because we have you, the super power of world football.”
He followed it up by chanting the name of Arne Slot, his likely successor.
“Arne Slot, la la la la la,” Klopp sang, to the tune of “Live is Life” by Austrian band Opus.
Liverpool finished third in the standings, nine points behind champion Manchester City, but at least won a trophy in Klopp’s final season — the English League Cup.


Abu Dhabi-backed MMA championship makes successful France debut

Abu Dhabi-backed MMA championship makes successful France debut
Updated 20 May 2024
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Abu Dhabi-backed MMA championship makes successful France debut

Abu Dhabi-backed MMA championship makes successful France debut
  • Benoit Saint Denis, Espen Mathiesen, Ffion Davies, Khaled Al-Shehhi emerge as champions at ADXC in Paris

ABU DHABI: Some of the world’s best grapplers and jiu-jitsu athletes participated this past weekend in the ADXC 4 championships at the Dojo de Paris in France.

The Grappling Main Event at the fourth edition of the Abu Dhabi Extreme Championship featured the long-awaited duel between UFC powerhouses Benoit Saint Denis and Marc Diakiese go the way of the home favorite.

Fighting in his homeland, Saint Denis used his grappling prowess to emerge victorious in the ADXC cage. Saint Denis almost submitted England’s Diakiese in the first round, but the latter managed to survive to go five rounds.

Norway’s Espen Mathiesen is now a two-time ADXC champion after defeating France’s Leon Larman in the Jiu-Jitsu Main Event. The Norwegian athlete played to his strength and defeated his opponent with a collar choke in the first round.

In the Grappling Co-Main Event, Wales’ Ffion Davies beat her opponent Morgan Black in the second round with an armbar, after intense pressure in the first round.

In the Jiu-Jitsu Co-Main Event, Khaled Al-Shehhi and Leonardo Mario found themselves evenly matched over the five rounds of three minutes each. Al-Shehhi started with a takedown, followed with a submission attempt and, when that did not work, used the single-leg to press Leonardo against the cage wall.

Mario applied pressure on Al-Shehhi’s guard, but the UAE powerhouse had a better run in the duel, using his technique to attack on top and even reach the side. Ultimately, Al-Shehhi did enough to convince the majority of the referees and won with a split decision.

In another matchup between MMA athletes, Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady controlled Amin Youb throughout the first two rounds, even managing to mount in the third. Youb attempted to attack with a guillotine, but Al-Selwady managed to avoid the danger and convinced the referees, who unanimously decided in favor of the “Pride of Palestine.”

In a well-balanced fight between purple belts, the UAE’s Shamma Al-Kalbani took on Lina Grosset of France. The first round saw both athletes exchanging foot attacks while the following one brought a little more movement, with reversals and guard-passing attempts. The third and final round saw Grosset putting on pressure from the top, but Al-Kalbani dished out some sneaky attacks and won via split decision.

 

ADXC 4 results:

Main Event: Benoit Saint Denis defeated Marc Diakiese via unanimous decision.

Espen Mathiesen defeated Leon Larman via collar choke.

Co-Main Event: Ffion Davies defeated Morgan Black via armbar.

Khaled Al-Shehhi defeated Leonardo Mario via split decision.

 

Main Card

Abdul-Kareem Al-Sewady defeated Amin Youb via unanimous decision.

Cassio Silva defeated Marko Oikarainen via unanimous decision.

Nathiely de Jesus defeated Elizabeth Mitrovic via unanimous decision.

Nia Blackman defeated Magdalena Loska via split decision.

Steven Ray defeated Ibrahima Mane via guillotine.

 

Preliminary Card

Youness Bennouali defeated Florian Bayili via split decision.

Geo Martinez defeated Nicolas Renier via heel hook.

Kalim Mastouri defeated Luca Anacoreta via unanimous decision.

Kasper Larsen defeated Alexander Alexandrov via rear-naked choke.

Shamma Al-Kalbani defeated Lina Grosset via split decision.