Arsenal stars targeted by ‘knife-wielding car-jackers’

The Daily Mail reported that the incident happened close to a Turkish restaurant. (File/AFP)
Updated 26 July 2019

Arsenal stars targeted by ‘knife-wielding car-jackers’

  • In the footage, the Premier League club’s Bosnian defender Kolasinac is seen leaping from the vehicle to confront the masked aggressors
  • Both attackers appeared to brandish knives at the 26-year-old Kolasinac. The Daily Mail reported that the incident happened close to a Turkish restaurant

LONDON: Arsenal footballers Sead Kolasinac and Mesut Ozil fought off knife-wielding car-jackers in a terrifying ordeal in London captured on video circulated on social media.

In the footage, the Premier League club’s Bosnian defender Kolasinac is seen leaping from the vehicle to confront the masked aggressors, who had pulled up alongside the car on mopeds in the city’s leafy Golders Green district on Thursday.

Both attackers appeared to brandish knives at the 26-year-old Kolasinac. The Daily Mail reported that the incident happened close to a Turkish restaurant.

“Ozil looked absolutely terrified, as anybody would after being chased by men with knives,” financial worker Azuka Alintah, 36, told MailOnline.
“He looked like he was running for his life. And I suppose he was. I saw him disappear into the restaurant with the motorcycle guys on his tail,” he said.

“They didn’t take off their helmets and were all in black, wearing long sleeved tops in this hot weather. They stood out,” he added.
Yasmin Tahsiner, the joint owner of the restaurant, told Sky News that the two footballers are regular customers and were pursued by the robbers for “10 or 15 minutes.”

The Daily Mail said that after fending off their assailants the players then chased the robbers “for more than a mile. “We have been in contact with both players and they are fine,” said a spokesman for Arsenal. Police confirmed that they had responded to reports of an attempted robbery.

“It was reported that suspects on motorbikes had attempted to rob a man who was driving a car,” a spokesman for London’s Metropolitan Police told AFP.

“The driver, along with his passenger, managed to get away unharmed and traveled to a restaurant in Golders Green, where they were spoken to by officers.

“There have been no arrests. Enquiries continue.” Some media reported that Amine Gulse, Ozil’s wife, was also in the car. Kolasinac and German midfielder Ozil are not the first footballers to be targeted on London’s streets.

In 2016, Andy Carroll, a former West Ham player, was threatened at gunpoint on his way home from training. There has been a sharp increase in knife crime in Britain in recent years, particularly in the capital.

5,500 people were injured or killed by knife crime in London in the 12 months to October 2018 — a record level. Newly-installed Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to recruit 20,000 extra police officers across Britain.


Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

Updated 21 January 2020

Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

  • High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire

CAIRO: There is little doubt that the switch by the Africa Cup of Nations from summer to winter competition will have a big impact on European competitions, with those at the top of the Premier League perhaps most affected.

The confederation confirmed that from 2021 when Cameroon will play host, the tournament will revert back to being played in January and February.

The tournament was moved to a June-July slot for last year’s edition in Egypt, which meant minimal disruption to the European domestic season. But plenty of Premier League managers will be left with problems this time next year, with several stars likely to leave for up to six weeks, including pre-tournament preparations.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp appears to face the biggest headache given that two of his star attacking players, Mohamed Salah from Egypt and Sadio Mane from Senegal, both featured in the African tournament last summer and are almost certain to be involved in the 2021 competition in some capacity.

High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire, while Manchester City will lose Riyad Mahrez should Algeria feature.

Klopp is critical of the decision to move the tournament dates, calling it “a catastrophe.” Salah and Mane’s absence would leave huge gaps in the Liverpool side. There is also Cameroon’s Joel Matip and Guinea’s Naby Keita to worry about. Matip has become solid at the back. Keita, too, would be a loss given his recent resurgence.

The Liverpool manager is upset because last year’s tournament was moved to mid-year to end a long-standing clash between clubs and countries over the release of their players. It was felt that common sense had prevailed when the tournament, which since 1960 had always been held during winter, reverted to summer. African players in western European clubs would no longer find themselves the target of competing claims for their attention every other season, which would benefit the players and their clubs and countries, and lead to fewer squabbles.

But then Cameroon changed its mind about hosting the tournament in summer next year, changing the dates from June and July to between Jan. 6 and Feb. 6. Why? The weather. It’s simply too hot in Cameroon in summer.

Organizers said they had agreed to the change after discussions with player and coach representatives.

But didn’t Cameroon know beforehand that its summers are too hot, too humid and right in the middle of its rainy season? That the country does not enjoy ideal conditions for football in summer could not have taken its organizers by complete surprise.

The situation serves as a vivid reminder of the botch-up of the 2022 Qatar World Cup. The host and FIFA decided that the World Cup, which is forever played in summer, would be moved to winter because of Qatar’s oppressive heat — but that decision came only after Qatar won the bid. That change, again, will mean a head-on clash with international tournaments and club competitions.

A football tournament simply cannot keep changing when it will be held as often as people change their socks. This is especially true for the Africa Cup of Nations, which is played every two years.

A major sports tournament must have fixed times. And, to be sure, its organizers should understand that you can’t please everybody. A championship’s times are bound to clash with some tournament or other. The African tournament, for example, will avoid a clash with FIFA’s revamped 24-team Club World Cup to be played in China in June and July 2021. But it cannot but conflict with European leagues. The important thing is to stay the course. Once a date is picked, it should be stuck to like glue.