German football legend Franz Beckenbauer has died aged 78

German football player Franz Beckenbauer, who died on Monday, waves to the spectators after winning the World Cup 1974 final against Netherlands. (AFP)
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German football player Franz Beckenbauer, who died on Monday, waves to the spectators after winning the World Cup 1974 final against Netherlands. (AFP)
German football legend Franz Beckenbauer, world champion as a player in 1974 and as coach in 1990, died on Sunday at the age of 78, the German Federation (DFB) announced on January 8, 2024. (AFP)
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German football legend Franz Beckenbauer, world champion as a player in 1974 and as coach in 1990, died on Sunday at the age of 78, the German Federation (DFB) announced on January 8, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 08 January 2024
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German football legend Franz Beckenbauer has died aged 78

German football legend Franz Beckenbauer has died aged 78
  • Tributes poured in for the football icon
  • Beckenbauer one of only three men to win World Cup as player and as coach

BERLIN: Legend Franz Beckenbauer, who left a unique imprint on German football as player, captain and coach, has died at the age of 78, the German football association said Monday.
“Franz Beckenbauer was definitely the biggest German footballer of all time, and above all one of the greatest men who I have known,” said DFB vice president Hans-Joachim Watzke.
Beckenbauer, one of only three men to win the World Cup as player and as a coach, passed away on Sunday, the DFB said.
Tributes poured in for the football icon, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and former German captain Lothar Matthaeus alike saying “we will miss him.”
UEFA hailed Beckenbauer as “one of European football’s greatest sons” who “shaped German football like no other,” while the English Premier League described him as the “most beautiful of footballers who won it all with grace and charm.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Instagram called Beckenbauer “a true legend,” saying “we’ll never forget you dear Franz, thanks for everything.”
On his 75th birthday, Beckenbauer told German tabloid Bild he prayed regularly.
“They are prayers of thanks,” the frequent Bild columnist said “thanks for the beautiful life I have been able to lead.”
Former captain of the German team in the 1970s, Beckenbauer had health problems in his later years and lived mostly withdrawn from the public eye in Salzburg in Austria, just across the border with Germany.
Known in football-mad Germany as “the Kaiser” meaning “the Emperor,” Beckenbauer played a central role in some of the country’s greatest sporting achievements, but his legacy was later tarnished by his involvement in scandals surrounding Germany’s successful bid to host the 2006 World Cup.
Born in Munich in 1945, Beckenbauer helped establish Bayern as his country’s strongest club.
Alongside Brazilian Mario Zagallo — who died aged 92 on Friday — and France’s Didier Deschamps, Beckenbauer is one of only three men to have won the World Cup as both a player and a manager.
He captained West Germany to the 1974 World Cup title on home soil when they beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the Munich final, then managed the team that beat Argentina 1-0 in Rome to lift the trophy at Italia 90.
Beckenbauer, a commanding figure on and off the pitch, was named European footballer of the year in both 1972 and 1976.
He made 424 appearances in the Bundesliga, scoring 44 goals, including in a 13-year spell for Bayern, before joining Hamburg and New York Cosmos, where he finished his playing career in 1983.
Beckenbauer had stints as manager in club football at both Bayern and Marseille, winning the French league title in 1991 and the Bundesliga in 1994.
In 1996, he stopped coaching and his role as president of Bayern led to a place on the Executive Committee with football’s governing body FIFA.
Off the field, Beckenbauer led Germany’s successful bid to host the 2006 World Cup, a successful tournament that is still nostalgically referred to in Germany as “das Sommermaerchen” — “The summer fairytale.”
However, the story turned sour in October 2015 when Spiegel broke a cash-for-votes scandal story.
The magazine alleged that, in 2000, the German Football Association (DFB) had bought the votes of four Asian members of FIFA’s 24-strong executive committee to secure the hosting of the 2006 World Cup finals. Beckenbauer had maintained his innocence.
Beckenbauer had heart surgery in 2016 and again in 2017, when worrying news about his ill health began to emerge.
At the beginning of January 2023, the football icon was absent from Pele’s funeral. A few months later, in August, he missed the traditional annual gathering of Germany’s 1990 world champions.
On each occasion, his health was cited as a reason.
The last time he appeared at Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena was in August 2022, when he attended a match against Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Wolfgang Overath, who lifted the World Cup with Beckenbauer in 1974, said it was “unimaginable that (Beckenbauer) is no longer around.
“He towered over everyone... and yet he was so down to earth,” said Overath, recalling that Beckenbauer had phoned him just three months ago for his birthday “with all the strength he still had then.”


Al-Ittihad sign Algerian midfielder Houssem Aouar on a four-year contract

Karim Benzema welcomes Houssem Aouar to Al-Ittihad’s training camp in Alicante, Spain. (X/@ittihad_en)
Karim Benzema welcomes Houssem Aouar to Al-Ittihad’s training camp in Alicante, Spain. (X/@ittihad_en)
Updated 17 July 2024
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Al-Ittihad sign Algerian midfielder Houssem Aouar on a four-year contract

Karim Benzema welcomes Houssem Aouar to Al-Ittihad’s training camp in Alicante, Spain. (X/@ittihad_en)
  • Aouar joins from Roma, where he scored four goals in 16 appearances last season
  • Midfielder previously played for hometown club Lyon in France’s Ligue 1, scoring 30 goals in seven seasons

JEDDAH: Al-Ittihad have signed French-born Algerian international midfielder Houssem Aouar on a four-year contract.

Aouar joins from Roma, where he scored four goals in 16 appearances last season.

The 26-year-old midfielder previously played for hometown club Lyon in France’s Ligue 1, scoring 30 goals in seven seasons.

The signing ceremony took place at the team’s training camp in Alicante, Spain on Tuesday.

The event was officiated by the club’s CEO, Domingos Oliveira, and witnessed by sporting director Ramon Planes, following Aouar’s successful medical examination this morning.

Domingos Oliveira expressed his warm welcome to Aouar, noting that this move marks a significant new chapter in Aouar’s career. He emphasized that Aouar will contribute significantly alongside his teammates to achieving the high standards and results anticipated by the club’s fans and supporters.

Oliveira highlighted that Aouar’s signing aligns with the team’s technical requirements for a player possessing specific qualities that enhance the squad. This strategy is based on the technical needs identified by the sports committee and reviewed by the coach.

Houssem Aouar shared his enthusiasm about joining Al-Ittihad Club, recognizing its rich history, passionate fan base, distinguished players, and experienced coaching staff. He is motivated to deliver his best performance to represent the club and bring joy to its supporters.


FIFA says opening probe into Argentina players’ racist chants

FIFA says opening probe into Argentina players’ racist chants
Updated 17 July 2024
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FIFA says opening probe into Argentina players’ racist chants

FIFA says opening probe into Argentina players’ racist chants
  • The song targets France’s star striker Kylian Mbappe among others and includes racist and homophobic insults

PARIS: FIFA said on Wednesday it was opening an investigation into racist chants by Argentina players after they won the Copa America.
“FIFA is aware of a video circulating on social media and the incident is being looked into,” a spokesperson for world football’s governing body said.
They added: “FIFA strongly condemns any form of discrimination by anyone including players, fans and officials.”
The chants were heard during a live video posted on social media by Chelsea and Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez from the team bus in the wake of the Copa victory over Colombia in Miami on Sunday.
Some players, including 23-year-old Fernandez, sing a chant dating back to the 2022 World Cup final in which Argentina beat France.
The song targets France’s star striker Kylian Mbappe among others and includes racist and homophobic insults.
Chelsea had earlier announced they had launched an internal disciplinary procedure against Fernandez over the incident.
Fernandez has apologized and the club said in a statement it had launched an “internal disciplinary procedure.”
“Chelsea Football Club finds all forms of discriminatory behavior completely unacceptable,” it added.
“We acknowledge and appreciate our player’s public apology and will use this as an opportunity to educate.”
Fernandez, who joined Chelsea from Benfica for a Premier League record fee of £105 million ($136.8 million) in 2023, said in his apology: “The song includes highly offensive language and there is absolutely no excuse for these words.
“I stand against discrimination in all forms and apologize for getting caught up in the euphoria of our Copa America celebrations.”
The French Football Federation (FFF) complained to FIFA about the chants on Monday.
FFF president Philippe Diallo “condemned with the greatest firmness the unacceptable racist and discriminatory remarks made against players of the France team.”
France beat Argentina in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup.


Belal Muhammad gears up for UFC 304 showdown with Leon Edwards

Belal Muhammad gears up for UFC 304 showdown with Leon Edwards
Updated 17 July 2024
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Belal Muhammad gears up for UFC 304 showdown with Leon Edwards

Belal Muhammad gears up for UFC 304 showdown with Leon Edwards
  • Muhammad sees the upcoming fight as a defining moment in his career trajectory
  • His Palestinian heritage serves as a profound source of motivation and pride ‘that means everything to me’

Riyadh: In the lead-up to UFC 304, slated for July 27 in Manchester, UK, Belal Muhammad, the formidable Palestinian-American welterweight contender, has honing his skills with a series  of rigorous training camps which have inluded sessions with Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Mackachev in Dagestan.

Speaking exclusively to Arab News, the 36-year-old reflected on his preparations and the profound significance of his upcoming bout against champion Leon Edwards.

“My training camp has been very good,” Muhammad said, detailing the final stages of his preparation. “It’s about being safe, staying uninjured, and making it to the fight week. It’s been a hard camp, but I feel the best I’ve ever felt. I can’t wait to get to Manchester and fight,” he added with palpable enthusiasm.

Ranked second in the welterweight division, Muhammad sees the upcoming fight as a defining moment in his career trajectory. “This is everything,” he stressed. “When I got into the UFC, all I wanted was to be the champion. Now, I see the finish line. I’m knocking on the door. All I’ve got to do is walk through it.”

Acknowledging the competitive landscape of the welterweight division, Muhammad assessed his opponents with a keen eye. “I see weaknesses in a lot of these guys,” he said. “I don’t think there are going to be easy fights, but looking at this division, Leon (Edwards) is my easiest fight,” he added.

Muhammad’s journey in mixed martial arts is deeply intertwined with his Palestinian heritage, which he views as a source of profound motivation and pride. “That means everything to me,” he said. “I wake up every day knowing I’m fighting for something bigger — to have my flag raised with the title, to give my people a voice.”

He highlighted the resilience and determination of his Palestinian community as a driving force in his career. “I can’t sleep. I can’t take any days off. I can’t be soft, because these people are hard. These people are so resilient. They push me every day to work harder. I’ve never seen a stronger people in my life.”

Addressing his Palestinian fans directly, Muhammad expressed solidarity and admiration. “Keep fighting. Keep staying strong. Keep being resilient because you’re changing the world,” he said, stressing the inspiration he draws from their unwavering support.

With the recent surge of MMA interest in the Middle East, Muhammad praised the region’s growing prominence in the sport. “It’s amazing to see the Middle East becoming a huge market for fighters and the UFC,” he said. “When you look at Arabs and Muslims, we’re not the tallest we’re not the biggest so you’re not gonna see a lot of us in the NBA. But now we have a different sport that we can take over. We can all be fighters,” he added optimistically, envisioning a future where Arab fighters continue to make significant strides in the sport.

Reflecting on his career’s evolution, Muhammad emphasized the lessons learned from both victories and setbacks. “I’ve had the highest highs and the lowest lows,” he said. “After every fight, I analyze what I did wrong. I train year-round to be a better fighter,” he added, attributing his continuous growth to a relentless pursuit of improvement.

Muhammad started his MMA journey at 23, unlike many fighters who start at a much younger age, a factor that has always played on his mind as he trains, he said.

“I really think I’m behind a lot of these guys. So I’ve always had that mentality that I’m behind and have to keep learning, growing, and getting better. And I think that’s what separates me from the rest. Every single fight, I come as a different fighter.”

Maintaining mental focus and motivation amid the stakes of UFC 304, Muhammad revealed a deeply personal motivation. “I love to win and I hate to lose,” he admitted. “I never want to see my mom disappointed in me. I keep winning so she keeps a smile on her face,” he added, highlighting the familial support that fuels his drive.

As the countdown to UFC 304 progresses, Muhammad stands poised to seize the welterweight crown, driven by skill, dedication, and a steadfast commitment to his goals. With Manchester on the horizon, Muhammad’s journey to championship glory promises to captivate fans worldwide and inspire a new generation of fighters from the Middle East and beyond.


‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters,’ ‘Counter-Strike 2’ and ‘PUBG Mobile’ top week 3 at Esports World Cup

‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters,’ ‘Counter-Strike 2’ and ‘PUBG Mobile’ top week 3 at Esports World Cup
Updated 17 July 2024
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‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters,’ ‘Counter-Strike 2’ and ‘PUBG Mobile’ top week 3 at Esports World Cup

‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters,’ ‘Counter-Strike 2’ and ‘PUBG Mobile’ top week 3 at Esports World Cup
  • 3 tournaments taking centerstage at Boulevard Riyadh City with high-stakes drama in store until Sunday  

RIYADH: The Esports World Cup has three major competitions taking place this week at Boulevard Riyadh City, promising further entertainment after a fortnight of action.

Running for eight weeks until Aug. 25, the Esports World Cup has a record-breaking $60 million prize pool on offer across 22 competitions and 21 games.

Sixteen clubs are vying to reach the latter stages of the $5 million “Dota2 Riyadh Masters” with hometown heroes Team Falcons flying the flag for Saudi Arabia.

Having topped the Group A standings with four wins and two draws from seven matches, Team Falcons have emerged as top contenders for the $1.5 million first prize and are certain to receive incredible home support this week.

Also, two other tournaments make their highly anticipated Esports World Cup debuts. The $1 million “Counter-Strike 2” competition will see some of the world’s best clubs competing.

Working together in five-versus-five format, players must display exemplary tactics to eliminate opponents and reign supreme in this ultra-realistic team-based shooter game.

Also sharing the spotlight is “PUBG Mobile,” with 24 teams battling for the $3 million prize on Friday.


Team Falcons reach ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ semifinals, target Esports World Cup hat trick

Team Falcons reach ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ semifinals, target Esports World Cup hat trick
Updated 17 July 2024
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Team Falcons reach ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ semifinals, target Esports World Cup hat trick

Team Falcons reach ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ semifinals, target Esports World Cup hat trick
  • The Saudi Arabia team have already claimed top places in the ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ and ‘Free Fire’ competitions

RIYADH: Team Falcons remain on course for a historic hat trick of Esports World Cup titles after the hometown heroes reached the semifinals of the “Dota2 Riyadh Masters” competition on Tuesday.

One of the front-runners for the $1.5 million first prize, the Saudi Arabia club entered the knockout stages in scintillating form, topping Group A with four wins and two draws.

This form continued with the support of a capacity crowd inside the SEF Arena.

A 2-1 victory against China’s WBG.XG set up a semifinal showdown with Canadian outfit Gaimin Gladiators.

This moves Team Falcons closer to their dream of winning the competition and adding to Esports World Cup victories in “Call of Duty: Warzone” and “Free Fire.”

The “Dota2 Riyadh Masters” is running throughout week three at the Esports World Cup, concluding on Sunday, July 23.