Real Madrid and Barcelona’s hopes of a so-called European Super League are dealt fresh blow

Real Madrid and Barcelona’s hopes of a so-called European Super League are dealt fresh blow
Juventus had been with Real Madrid and Barcelona in persisting with a new competition that would replace the Champions League. (AP)
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Updated 01 June 2024
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Real Madrid and Barcelona’s hopes of a so-called European Super League are dealt fresh blow

Real Madrid and Barcelona’s hopes of a so-called European Super League are dealt fresh blow
  • Juventus had been with Real Madrid and Barcelona in persisting with a new competition that would replace the Champions League

LONDON: A so-called European Super League was dealt a fresh blow on Saturday when Italian giant Juventus decided to rejoin the body of clubs opposing the controversial breakaway competition.
Juventus had been with Real Madrid and Barcelona in pushing for a new competition that would replace the Champions League. But it will rejoin the European Club Association of 600 teams, which has fought strongly against attempts to create a Super League.
“They are back. It is great,” ECA chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi said. “The club has an amazing history. We are proud they are back to their family. I also call the others to be back.”
Madrid and Barcelona are now the only two clubs trying to form a proposed Super League, which has already had one failed launch after angry fan protests in 2021.
Madrid president Florentino Perez has been determined to push ahead with plans to create a breakaway, despite the majority of Europe’s leading clubs rejecting the idea. His position appeared to be strengthened in December when the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that soccer’s governing bodies UEFA and FIFA acted contrary to EU competition law by blocking attempts for a breakaway league.
Super League organizers quickly revealed plans for the new competition, which Perez described as a “great opportunity to improve European club football.”
But, crucially, he did not have the backing of many of the leading clubs, which faced a furious backlash from fans when attempting to form a breakaway in 2021.
Back then a group of 12 of Europe’s most storied clubs announced plans to create a new Super League. Proposals for the 20-team elite tournament would have seen 15 top sides protected from relegation.
Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan were part of the original breakaway group.
Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus were eventually left as the only clubs carrying on the fight before Italy’s record 36-time champion, Juventus, withdrew last year.
Al-Khelaifi, who is also president of Paris Saint-Germain, spoke after a meeting of the ECA Executive Committee in London ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final between Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.
He said he wanted Madrid and Barcelona to follow Juventus’ lead, saying a Super League of two teams “doesn’t make sense.”
“They can play two teams, home and away for 20 matches?”, he said. “It is not for anyone’s interest. They are going against their (own) interests today.”
Madrid is going for a record-extending 15th European Cup when it faces Dortmund at Wembley Stadium.
“I heard yesterday they (Madrid) talked about the love story between Madrid and the Champions League. On the other hand they want to destroy the Champions League. You love or you hate. You want to destroy the thing you hate?” Al-Khelaifi said.
Al-Khelaifi said he would welcome discussion with Madrid and Barcelona about rejoining the ECA.
“It’s really important for us and for them,” he said.


Spain winning Euro priority not Golden Boot race with Kane: Olmo

Spain winning Euro priority not Golden Boot race with Kane: Olmo
Updated 57 min 48 sec ago
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Spain winning Euro priority not Golden Boot race with Kane: Olmo

Spain winning Euro priority not Golden Boot race with Kane: Olmo
  • Olmo and Kane are tied on three goals with four other players and if either score in the final on Sunday in Berlin they will likely claim the prize
  • However, with Spain angling for a record fourth European Championship, Olmo said the team’s target was far more important than his own individual glory

DONAUESCHINGEN, Germany: Spain playmaker Dani Olmo is vying for the Euro 2024 golden boot with England’s Harry Kane, but said Friday he doesn’t care about winning it as long as his team lifts the trophy.
Olmo and Kane are tied on three goals with four other players and if either score in the final on Sunday in Berlin they will likely claim the prize.
However, with Spain angling for a record fourth European Championship, Olmo said the team’s target was far more important than his own individual glory.
“It’s an extra motivation, if there’s even room for that, but look, as long as we win, I don’t care if I score or if (Spain goalkeeper) Unai Simon does,” Olmo told reporters.
“I don’t care at all, the important thing is winning the game, but I always have the objective of helping to chip in.”
Olmo has also created two goals for his team-mates but unlike in the past when that was used as a tie-breaker, the award will be shared by any players joint-top of the charts.
The RB Leipzig midfielder did not start the tournament as part of Spain coach Luis de la Fuente’s first choice side but made a strong impact off the bench when given the chance.
Olmo replaced the injured Pedri in the quarter-final win over hosts Germany, scoring and setting up the winner for Mikel Merino.
The midfielder also struck against France in the semifinal and has scored in all three knock-out rounds Spain have played.
“In this tournament I feel very good, in a great moment of form, so I have to keep taking advantage of it,” continued the 26-year-old.
“It’s true (Kane and I) are tied, but there are other players too who have helped us get here, with goals and good play.
“Speaking of goals, Fabian (Ruiz) has two goals, Alvaro (Morata) has one — if he scores a hat-trick then he will win it, and we’d be just as happy — it doesn’t matter who scores, the main thing is the team.”
Olmo scored a hat-trick for Leipzig as they beat Bayern Munich 3-0 in the German Supercup final on Kane’s debut for the Bavarian giants last August.
The England captain has still not won a trophy in his career at club or international level, finishing a runner-up with England in the Euro 2020 final.
Kane, 30, has struggled for form and peak fitness at the Euros despite managing three goals.
“Of course it would be a dream to score a hat-trick (again) and win it,” added Olmo.
“But I repeat, the goal is just to win it.”


Saudi Arabia to host first Esports Olympics in 2025: IOC

Saudi Arabia to host first Esports Olympics in 2025: IOC
Updated 12 July 2024
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Saudi Arabia to host first Esports Olympics in 2025: IOC

Saudi Arabia to host first Esports Olympics in 2025: IOC
  • The duration of the partnership between the IOC and the Saudi NOC will be 12 years
  • Riyadh is already to host the Esports World Cup in July and August, when 2,500 gamers will battle for $60 million in prize money.

Lausanne: Saudi Arabia will host the inaugural Esports Olympics in 2025 the International Olympic Committee said on Friday.
“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today announced that it has partnered with the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Saudi Arabia to host the inaugural Olympic Esports Games 2025 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the body said.
“The proposal will be made to the IOC Session, which will be held on the eve of the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
“The duration of the partnership between the IOC and the Saudi NOC will be 12 years, with Olympic Esports Games held regularly.”
Riyadh is already to host the Esports World Cup in July and August, when 2,500 gamers will battle for $60 million in prize money.
The IOC, in its perpetual quest to reconcile Olympic tradition with attempts to attract a younger audience, held an initial “Olympic e-sport week” in Singapore in June 2023, consisting of “ten mixed-gender category events.”
Last October, the IOC set up an “e-sport commission” chaired by Frenchman David Lappartient, the president of the international cycling union (UCI), to consider a dedicated competition.
However, IOC president Thomas Bach has said in the past he does not see e-sports as part of the traditional Olympics.
“With respect to esports, our values are and remain the red line that we will never cross,” he said.
Nevertheless he expressed his delight that the Esports Games had a natural home in Saudi Arabia.
“We are very fortunate to be able to work with the Saudi NOC on the Olympic Esports Games, because it has great — if not unique — expertise in the field of esports with all its stakeholders,” Bach said in a statement.
“The Olympic Esports Games will greatly benefit from this experience.
“By partnering with the Saudi NOC (National Olympic Committee) we have also ensured that the Olympic values are respected.
“In particular, with regard to the game titles on the program, the promotion of gender equality and engagement with the young audience, which is embracing esports.”
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, Minister of Sport and President of the Saudi Arabian Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said he was happy his country was part of sporting history.
“Saudi Arabia is hugely excited by the prospect of partnering with the IOC and helping to welcome a completely new era for international sport,” he said.
“We believe that to take part in the Olympic Games is one of the greatest honors any athlete can achieve.
“And we are proud to support the writing of a new chapter in Olympic history that has the potential to inspire new dreams and new ambitions for literally millions of athletes around the world.”
Conservative Saudi Arabia’s bid to become a sports powerhouse is part of a larger attempt to soften its austere image.
That rebranding is central to the success of its Vision 2030 economic and social reform agenda, designed to prepare the world’s biggest crude exporter for a prosperous post-oil future.
Last year, the kingdom hosted its first ATP Tour event with the Next Gen Finals.
It has also hosted exhibition matches pitting Novak Djokovic against Carlos Alcaraz and Aryna Sabalenka against Ons Jabeur.
In early January, Saudi Arabia appointed Rafael Nadal as ambassador of the Saudi Tennis Federation.
The country, which hosts a Formula 1 and MotoGP Grand Prix, as well as the Dakar rally-raid, has recruited a large number of top football players to its national league in recent years.
The Kingdom has also hosted a series of headline-grabbing boxing matches including the heavyweight unification bout between Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury earlier this year.


Etihad Arena to host global basketball stars, legends, coaches and senior executives

Etihad Arena to host global basketball stars, legends, coaches and senior executives
Updated 12 July 2024
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Etihad Arena to host global basketball stars, legends, coaches and senior executives

Etihad Arena to host global basketball stars, legends, coaches and senior executives
  • ‘Courtside Conversations and USA Basketball Showcase’ on July 16
  • Men’s teams from US, Australia, Serbia to play games in UAE capital

ABU DHABI: Sports enthusiasts are in for a treat as Etihad Arena will host a “Courtside Conversations and USA Basketball Showcase” on July 16 in Abu Dhabi featuring some of the sport’s top players and personalities.

This is in conjunction with the “2024 USA Basketball Showcase Games” in the UAE capital from July 15 to 17.

The games feature the world No. 1 US basketball men’s national team, Australian Boomers and Serbia, ranked at five and four respectively, that are all preparing for the Paris Olympic Games.

The “Courtside Conversations and USA Basketball Showcase” will be an evening of discussions with participants including basketball players, legends, and senior executives.

The forum will kick off with a “Global Growth of the Game” panel discussion highlighting the importance of investing in young people, women, and minorities.

It will also explore how programs beyond the court can mentor leaders in every community.

Speakers include Miami Heat legend Alonzo Mourning, the Las Vegas Aces’ Chief Business Development Officer Jennifer Azzi, and USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley.

The second panel, “The Road to Paris,” will have the panelists discuss how to build a championship-caliber team and the value of teamwork. The participants include NBA legend and US Men’s National Team MD Grant Hill and former NBA player Steve Smith.

Attendees will have the chance to ask questions, which have to be submitted in advance.

Select fans will be able to meet basketball legends Smith and Mourning, which includes on-court photo opportunities following the Australia-Serbia game.


Stars of ‘Free Fire,’ ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ and ‘Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’ battle it out at Esports World Cup

Stars of ‘Free Fire,’ ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ and ‘Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’ battle it out at Esports World Cup
Updated 12 July 2024
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Stars of ‘Free Fire,’ ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ and ‘Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’ battle it out at Esports World Cup

Stars of ‘Free Fire,’ ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ and ‘Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’ battle it out at Esports World Cup
  • World’s largest gaming competition runs until Aug. 25 at Boulevard Riyadh City

RIYADH: Action at the Esports World Cup is hotting up across three of the most high-profile conceptions — “Free Fire,” the “Dota2 Riyadh Masters” and “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.”

Running until Aug. 25 at Boulevard Riyadh City, the eight-week Esports World Cup has seen strong showings in “Free Fire” from All Glory Gaming, Team Solid, and Twisted Minds.

At the “Dota2 Riyadh Masters,” HEROIC, Team Spirit, Tundra Esports, and WBG.XG were among the teams to impress.

Meanwhile, “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang” has reached the quarterfinal stage.

The Esports World Cup features a unique cross-game structure pitting the world’s top clubs and players against one another across 22 global competitions in 21 leading games.

More than 1,500 players from 60 countries are battling it out for a share of the $60 million prize pool — the largest in the history of esports.


T1 star Faker hails ‘Cristiano Ronaldo-esque’ reception from fans at Esports World Cup in Riyadh

T1 star Faker hails ‘Cristiano Ronaldo-esque’ reception from fans at Esports World Cup in Riyadh
Updated 12 July 2024
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T1 star Faker hails ‘Cristiano Ronaldo-esque’ reception from fans at Esports World Cup in Riyadh

T1 star Faker hails ‘Cristiano Ronaldo-esque’ reception from fans at Esports World Cup in Riyadh
  • The ‘Michael Jordan of esports’ helped South Korean side overcome Top Esports of China 3-1 at Boulevard Riyadh City in Esports World Cup’s ‘League of Legends’ final

RIYADH: Faker, the T1 star known as the “Michael Jordan of esports,” believes his Esports World Cup reception from fans in Saudi Arabia has been “Cristiano Ronaldo-esque” — but that is mostly because they love “League of Legends,” not just him.

The 28-year-old South Korean professional, whose real name is Lee Sang-hyeok, is a hero across the world for his gaming exploits and has 1.5 million followers on Instagram.

Starred in the Esports World Cup’s “League of Legends” competition as South Korea’s T1 overcame Top Esports of China 3-1 in Sunday’s all-Asian final in front of a capacity crowd at the SEF Arena at Boulevard Riyadh City.

The win secured vital Esports World Cup Club Championship points for T1 and the $400,000 first prize.

Faker described the love he received from fans in Saudi Arabia as akin to that of five-time Ballon d’Or winner and Al-Nassr hero Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I think it’s because I’ve been putting in a lot of effort all these years and the fans really like that. But mostly I think it’s the love of ‘League of Legends’ itself from the fans. All I can do is just keep being better and keep it up all these years.”

Adored by millions worldwide, “League of Legends” is a strategy game where two teams of five powerful champions face off with the objective of destroying the opposition’s base.

The final on Sunday at the Esports World Cup was decided in a best-of-five format.

Faker — who competes alongside Zeus, Oner, Gumayusi and Keria in T1’s five-star lineup — said the world cup “symbolizes the growth of esports worldwide.

“There are so many athletes from so many countries competing here and this reflects the recent growth of our industry. It’s popular everywhere right now. I hope the Esports World Cup attracts even more athletes, clubs, games, and fans in the future.”

The Esports World Cup began on July 3 and ends on Aug. 25 with 22 tournaments across 21 titles.