Barcelona sell Camp Nou title to raise money to fight virus

The 99,000-seater Camp Nou is the biggest stadium in Europe. (Files/ AP)
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Updated 22 April 2020
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Barcelona sell Camp Nou title to raise money to fight virus

BARCELONA: Barcelona will sell the title rights to their storied stadium for one year in an effort to raise money for the fight against the coronavirus.
The Spanish club’s executive board said Tuesday it will donate the entire fee raised by selling the title rights to the Camp Nou to fighting the global pandemic.
The Camp Nou is the biggest stadium in Europe with more than 99,000 seats. It has never had a sponsor since it opened in 1957.
“We want to send a universal message: For the first time someone will have the opportunity to put their name on Camp Nou and the revenues will go to all of humanity, not just Barca,” club vice president Jordi Cardoner told The Associated Press.
“The initiative arose in an emergency situation. We think that we have to have a very quick response, putting our crown jewel at the service (of the fight).”
The club had planned to wait to sell the stadium’s title rights for the first time in the 2023-24 season. At that time, the club hopes to bring in €300 million ($326 million) paid up front for a 25-year contract to pay for renovations to the stadium and other facilities.
Cardoner, who has recovered after contracting the virus, said the board conceived of this new charity sale independent of the long-term deal of 25 years. But, he said that if there emerges a sponsor who wanted to include it in the long-term deal, then the club would consider it.
Cardoner said Barcelona want to listen to offers from companies and private foundations and will consider opening it up to a group of interested sponsors who could team up and hopefully provide even more funds to help battle the new virus.
He would not give any estimate on how much the foundation hopes to earn from this “one-shot” sale. But given the greatness of Lionel Messi and the millions of spectators who tune in each week to watch Barcelona’s games, Camp Nou is one of the most coveted venues in sports.
“Camp Nou is sending out an S.O.S.,” Cardoner said. “We are open to everything. We want to maximize the economic participation and to ensure that the partners share our same social values.”
The stadium will maintain the name “Camp Nou” in addition to including the sponsor, the club said.
Barcelona’s foundation for social charities, which is overseen by Cardoner, will manage the investment of the money in fighting the virus. The foundation runs programs in Spain and in 58 other countries, largely focused on at-risk youth and refugees.
The club said it hopes to close a deal “in the coming weeks.” The decision will then have to be approved by a general assembly of club members, which number 140,000, likely to be held in October, if conditions permit.
How the money is used will be determined by the club’s foundation and the sponsor, with each party proposing how to distribute half of the funds, Cardoner said. Barcelona said they want s to propose using part of the money in Spain, especially in Catalonia, and in countries where the club has current charities. Cardoner said specific projects have not been chosen, but he would like some money to go to helping the elderly, especially in the devastated nursing home sector.
Cardoner said that he took some inspiration from the club’s decision in 2006 to put UNICEF on its shirt, which had never carried a sponsor before. The club moved the UNICEF logo to the back of the shirt in 2011 and sold the front to a corporate sponsor. It has continued to donate €2 million ($2.14 million) to UNICEF annually.
The main impetus, however, hit Cardoner while he was confined to his bed waging his own fight against an infection from the virus. He never needed hospitalization and fully recovered after a couple of weeks, but he said that the experience prompted him to “think big.”
“I spent a long time in bed and had time to think,” he said. “We do a lot through our foundation, and it occurred to me that we had to think big, think big like we did with the shirt and UNICEF.”


Spain beat England 2-1 to win record fourth European Championship title

Updated 15 July 2024
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Spain beat England 2-1 to win record fourth European Championship title

  • Oyarzabal slid in to poke home Marc Cucurella’s cross, just when the game at Berlin’s Olympiastadion seemed destined for extra time

BERLIN: Spain won a record fourth European Championship title on Sunday after Mikel Oyarzabal’s 86th-minute goal clinched a 2-1 victory over England, whose painful decades-long wait for a major trophy goes on.
Oyarzabal slid in to poke home Marc Cucurella’s cross, just when the game at Berlin’s Olympiastadion seemed destined for extra time after the latest show of resilience by England at the tournament.
Substitute Cole Palmer equalized for England in the 73rd minute to cancel out Nico Williams’ opener in the 47th from 17-year-old prodigy Lamine Yamal’s pass.
Spain also won the title in 1964, 2008 and 2012.
“I did my job and what I had to and was lucky enough to score the goal for the win,” said Oyarzabal, who came on as a substitute for captain Alvaro Morata. “When you are among the 26 names to be picked, that is special enough, but then to get to help the team like I did, that is the most important part.”
England men’s team has now lost back-to-back Euro finals and is still without a major title since winning the 1966 World Cup.
It is another agonizing loss for one of the world’s most underperforming national teams, this one coming in front of Prince William and Spain’s King Felipe at the venue built for the 1936 Olympics.
“This time it just wasn’t meant to be,” the prince wrote on social media. “We’re all still so proud of you.”
There were joyous scenes after the final whistle among the Spanish players, with Williams putting his hands to his face before he was embraced by his teammates. Dani Carvajal slumped to the field and was piled on by jubilant teammates.
Yamal, Marc Cucurella and Dani Olmo were among the first to jump over the advertising hoardings to reach the Spanish fans in the stadium’s east end of the stadium.
It was fitting that Yamal and Williams combined for the crucial first goal as they are the poster boys of this exciting, multicultural team that mirrors the new reality in Spain.
Yamal’s mother is from Equatorial Guinea and his father is from Morocco, while fellow winger Williams has Ghanaian parents who made the long journey to Europe looking for a better life. To make it to Spain, they had to ride on the back of a crowded truck and walk barefoot through the Sahara desert.
“Euphoria! We are so happy. We deserved this,” said Williams, the player of the match. “This is for our fans and our parents, who have supported us throughout.”
Unlike his brother Inaki, who is a Ghana international, Nico chose to play for Spain and will now be regarded as a national hero there.
As, indeed, will Oyarzabal and the rest of the Spain team, who have won all seven of their matches at this tournament — an unprecedented feat — and beaten heavyweights Germany, France and England, back-to-back in the knockout stage.
Spain is back as a major player in senior soccer after winning both the Women’s World Cup and the men’s UEFA Nations League in 2023.
Since 2001, Spanish men’s teams have won 23 consecutive major finals in club and international soccer.


India beat Zimbabwe by 42 runs in fifth T20 to win series 4-1

Updated 14 July 2024
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India beat Zimbabwe by 42 runs in fifth T20 to win series 4-1

  • Sanju Samson, who was part of India’s T20 World Cup-winning squad, hit four sixes to help India score 167-6 in 20 overs
  • In reply, Zimbabwe was bowled out for 125 runs in 18.3 overs with medium pacer Mukesh Kumar taking 4-22 from 3.3 overs

HARARE: Sanju Samson scored 58 as India beat Zimbabwe by 42 runs in their fifth Twenty20 on Sunday to win the five-match series 4-1.
Samson, who was part of India’s T20 World Cup-winning squad, hit four sixes in his 45-ball innings to help India score 167-6 in 20 overs after losing the toss and batting first.
In reply, Zimbabwe was bowled out for 125 runs in 18.3 overs with medium pacer Mukesh Kumar taking 4-22 in 3.3 overs.
Zimbabwe had won the first T20 by 13 runs, with India then rebounding with four consecutive wins. It won the second, third and fourth T20s by 100 runs, 23 runs, and 10 wickets, respectively.
India’s top-order batters got double-digit starts Sunday but couldn’t build on them.
Yashasvi Jaiswal, who scored 93 not out on Saturday, was bowled for 12 off five balls. Skipper Shubman Gill was caught for 13, while Abhishek Sharma was dismissed for 14 as India reached 40-3 in five overs.
Samson and Riyan Parag (22) added 65 off 56 balls for the fourth wicket and stabilized the innings as India crossed the 100-mark.
The acceleration came late and cost India a few wickets, with Samson holding ground at one end. Shivam Dube scored 26 off 12 balls, hitting two sixes, and putting on 30 off 19 balls for the fifth wicket.
Zimbabwe pacer Blessing Muzarabani finished with 2-19 in four overs.
Kumar disturbed Zimbabwe’s start as opener Wessly Madhevere was bowled for a three-ball duck. He also sent back Brian Bennett for 10 runs.
Zimbabwe fought back with a 44-run partnership between Tadiwanashe Marumani (27) and Dion Myers (34).
Washington Sundar (1-7 in two overs) got the breakthrough in the ninth over, while Dube (2-25) dismissed Myers.
The hosts couldn’t fight back thereafter, especially with captain Sikandar Raza run out for eight. Zimbabwe crashed from 85-3 to 94-7 in the space of 15 deliveries.
Faraz Akram scored 27 off 13 balls to take Zimbabwe past 100, but the hosts never looked like winning.
Gill was leading India this series for the first time. He called it an “excellent series” for the young side.
“The hunger that we showed after the first loss was phenomenal to watch,” Gill said. “A lot of our players weren’t used to these conditions, some of them were on long flights, and we adapted very well.”


Carlos Alcaraz dominates Novak Djokovic to retain Wimbledon crown

Updated 14 July 2024
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Carlos Alcaraz dominates Novak Djokovic to retain Wimbledon crown

  • Alcaraz equals the Open Era record for most Grand Slams won at the age 21 or under

LONDON: Carlos Alcaraz overpowered seven-time champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets to retain his Wimbledon title on Sunday in a brutal statement that the new era of men’s tennis has arrived.
The Spanish third seed produced a performance combining awesome power with delicate touch to win 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4), collecting the fourth Grand Slam of his young career.
Alcaraz equals the Open Era record for most Grand Slams won at the age 21 or under, joining Boris Becker, Bjorn Borg and Mats Wilander.
And he is just the sixth man to win the French Open and Wimbledon back to back.
Djokovic, 37, who had knee surgery just weeks ago, was aiming to win a 25th Grand Slam — which would have been a record in the men’s and women’s game.
But he had no answers in the Center Court sunshine as the electric Alcaraz pounded him from the back of the court and treated the crowd to an array of his trademark drop shots.
“Honestly, it is a dream for me winning this trophy,” said the Spaniard. “I did an interview when I was 11 and I said my dream is to win Wimbledon.
“For me this is the most beautiful tournament, the most beautiful court and the most beautiful trophy.”
Alcaraz paid tribute to his beaten opponent, who only found his range in the third set.
“Djokovic is an unbelievable fighter, I knew he was going to have his chances,” said Alcaraz who had needed five sets to defeat the Serb in the 2023 final.
“It was difficult but I tried to stay calm going into the tie-break and tried to play my best tennis. I was glad at the end I could find the solutions.”
Alcaraz seized the initiative in a first game of breathtaking quality lasting 14 minutes, taking advantage of his fifth break point.
The Spaniard settled quickly into his routine on serve and went up a double break when Djokovic double-faulted in the fifth game.
The shell-shocked Serbian, playing in his 10th Wimbledon final, held serve to love to close the gap to 5-2 but dumped the ball into the net to hand the Spaniard the first set.
Alcaraz was immediately on the front foot in the second set, forcing a break in the first game and fending off pressure on his own serve to take a 2-0 lead.
A Djokovic backhand into the net in the seventh game handed Alcaraz another break point and a double fault put the defending champion 5-2 up and on the cusp of a two-set lead.
The Center Court crowd, including Catherine, Princess of Wales, looked on in disbelief as their hopes for a titanic tussle evaporated.
The under-par Djokovic fended off another of clutch of break points early in the third set to stay alive and showed signs that he was finding his rhythm.
But Alcaraz broke for a 5-4 lead and moved to 40-0 on his own serve, only to suffer a wobble as Djokovic saved all three championship points, breaking for the first time in the match.
He recovered his composure quickly and the set went to a tie-break.
Djokovic went wide with a forehand to give Alcaraz a 5-3 lead and the Spaniard won the title with his fourth championship point, clambering up to the players’ box to celebrate with his family and coaching team.
The champion struck 42 winners to Djokovic’s 26 over the course of the match.
Princess Catherine, patron of the All England Club, handed over the trophy.
Last month she tentatively returned to British public life for the first time since her diagnosis, attending a military parade in London to mark King Charles III’s official birthday.
Djokovic, still without a title this year, will now turn his attention to the Paris Olympics as he seeks to win gold for the first time.
“It obviously was not the result I wanted but of course in the first couple of sets the level of tennis wasn’t up to par from my side,” he said.
“But credit to Carlos for playing elite tennis, especially from the back of the court, he had it all today.”


Top level padel event to be hosted in Dubai as part of 25-tournament season

Updated 14 July 2024
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Top level padel event to be hosted in Dubai as part of 25-tournament season

  • Organized by Dubai-based Gallop Global, the event will feature 256 players in separate formats for male and female pairs

LONDON: Top level padel will be returning to Dubai as part of a newly unified 25-tournament season spanning 18 countries, it was announced on Sunday.

The Dubai Premier Padel P1 event will be held at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium and feature the world’s best players. 

Organized by Dubai-based Gallop Global, the event will feature 256 players in separate formats for male and female pairs. The accumulated prize pool for both categories is €470,000 ($513,263).

The sport is coming to Dubai following a multi-year hosting agreement between the UAE Padel Association, the Department of Economy and Tourism, Dubai Sports Council, Premier Padel, and Gallop Global.

“The support of the inaugural Dubai Premier Padel P1 from His Highness Sheikh Mansoor will be a significant motivating factor in organising more events in the country,” said Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum bin Juma Al-Maktoum, UAEPA president.

“Since the sport’s formal introduction to the UAE in 2013, the UAE leadership has supported various padel events, as well as other events that followed in subsequent years.

“For example, the World Padel Championship, hosted by Dubai in 2022, was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai and chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai. We thank the leaders for their invaluable support, which has led to the development of the sport in the emirate, as evidenced by the constantly growing infrastructure in line with the sport’s popularity over the years,” Sheikh Saeed added.

Saeed Mohammed Hareb, secretary-general of the Dubai Sports Council, said padel had experienced huge growth in the UAE, especially in Dubai.

Padel in the UAE is governed by UAEPA, which was founded in 2014 and is one of the first padel federations in Asia to be established. It has been affiliated with the International Padel Federation since 2016.

In 2014, the General Authority of Sports decreed the official recognition of padel as a sport with the government’s full support. Today, the UAE is home to 30 percent of padel courts in Asia and two percent of all courts worldwide.

“We have witnessed tremendous development and growth of padel in the UAE in general, and Dubai in particular, in terms of the number of practitioners and courts, as well as the organization of international tournaments, attracting top-ranked players in the world,” he said.
“This reflects the hard work of the UAE Padel Federation, headed by Sheikh Saeed and showcases the efforts to spread padel culture and the numerous benefits of playing the sport.

“This event plays a pivotal role in the growth of the padel community, not just in Dubai but also on a global scale, while also cementing Dubai’s position as a global hub for sports and events. Bringing world-class players to Dubai will also serve as a further catalyst for the growth of the sport and the emirate,” he added.


Spain and England to meet in European Championship final in front of Prince William and King Felipe

Updated 14 July 2024
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Spain and England to meet in European Championship final in front of Prince William and King Felipe

  • Spain is bidding to win the Euros for a record fourth time and for the first time since 2012
  • England lays claim to be the birthplace of soccer and hasn’t won a major title since the 1966 World Cup

BERLIN: Spain and England will meet in the European Championship final on Sunday, with much of the focus on a teenage wonderkid and whether one of the world’s most underachieving teams can end its decades-long wait for a title.
The match is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. local time (1900 GMT) in Berlin and is expected to be attended by Prince William, Spain’s King Felipe, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Keir Starmer, Britain’s new prime minister.
Spain is bidding to win the Euros for a record fourth time, breaking a tie with Germany/West Germany, and for the first time since 2012. The team’s new superstar is winger Lamine Yamal, a prodigy who turned 17 on Saturday.
England, who lays claim to be the birthplace of soccer, hasn’t won a major title since the 1966 World Cup and that was on home soil. This is the team’s second straight European Championship final, having lost in a penalty shootout in the final to Italy three years ago.
The teams have taken different paths to the final, which will take place at Berlin’s Olympiastadion — the 71,000-seat venue built for the 1936 Olympic Games and which hosted the 2006 World Cup final that featured Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt.
Spain has won all six of its matches and is widely regarded as the best team at Euro 2024, having seen off Germany and France in the knockout stage. England was unimpressive in the group stage and has shown resilience in coming from behind in all three of its knockout-stage games.