Neymar scores hat-trick as PSG win game suspended after racism walkout

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PSG’s Neymar celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the Champions League game against Istanbul Basaksehir at the Parc des Princes, Paris, France, Dec. 9, 2020. (AP Photo)
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Istanbul Basaksehir’s Demba Ba speaks with Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe during the UEFA Champions League game at the Parc des Princes, Paris, Dec. 8, 2020. (AFP)
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The Paris St Germain v Istanbul Basaksehir F.K. Champions League game at the Parc des Princes was suspended after an alleged racist insult by the fourth official, Paris, France, Dec. 8, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 December 2020

Neymar scores hat-trick as PSG win game suspended after racism walkout

  • Both sets of players and the match officials took a knee on the pitch before resuming the match that had been suspended over an alleged racist insult
  • Romanian fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu, appeared to describe Basaksehir assistant coach Pierre Webo, a former Cameroon international player, as ‘black,’ or ‘negru’ in Romanian

PARIS: Neymar scored a stunning hat-trick as Paris Saint-Germain romped to a 5-1 win over Istanbul Basaksehir on Wednesday, while both sets of players and the match officials took a knee on the pitch before resuming the match that had been suspended over an alleged racist insult.

The world’s most expensive player was clearly in the mood and he put PSG in front within seven minutes of the restart with a stunning turn and nutmeg followed by a curling strike into the top corner.

Kylian Mbappe set up Neymar to make it 2-0, and the Brazilian then won a penalty which was converted by Mbappe for the third goal just before half-time
Neymar completed his hat-trick with another tremendous hit after a one-two with Angel di Maria at the start of the second half, and Mbappe got PSG’s fifth into an open goal after Mehmet Topal had scored for Basaksehir.

The unprecedented walkout of Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir players over an alleged racist comment by a Champions League official sparked a new row about racism in football.
Both teams left the pitch on Tuesday after a touchline argument erupted when the Romanian fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu, appeared to describe Basaksehir assistant coach Pierre Webo, a former Cameroon international player, as “black,” or “negru” in Romanian.
The group game in Paris, which was goalless at the time, was suspended and resumed on Wednesday where it left off, in the 14th minute, with a different set of officials.
PSG forward Kylian Mbappe tweeted “Say no to racism,” while teammate Neymar posted “Black Lives Matter.” Both players were prominent in the heated discussions on the touchline.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is understood to be close to Basaksehir’s owners, tweeted that he “strongly condemns the racist remarks,” while France’s sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who was born in Romania, praised the players’ “historic decision.”
Basaksehir midfielder Giuliano told Brazilian media: “(The comment) was very clear, many people heard, including our coach. It was disgraceful.
“As a team and a group, we decided to protest because that is unacceptable. Racism has to end.”
The row flared after Webo was shown a red card. Television microphones in the empty Parc des Princes stadium — matches are taking place without spectators because of Covid-19 restrictions — then picked up a furious Webo repeatedly asking why a racist term had been used to describe him.
In the exchange in question between the all-Romanian officiating team, Coltescu said: “The black one over there. This is not possible. Go and identify him. That guy, the black one.”
Basaksehir’s Senegalese forward Demba Ba, among the substitutes for the away side, could be heard remonstrating with the official in English, saying: “When you mention a white guy, you never say ‘this white guy’, you just say ‘this guy’, so why when you mention a black guy do you say ‘this black guy?’“
European football’s governing body UEFA promised a “thorough investigation.”
The French government’s spokesman Gabriel Attal condemned all racism in sport and commended the “solidarity” shown by both teams.
Rio Ferdinand, the former Manchester United and England defender and now a TV pundit, said on BT Sport: “I think we are at a disturbing tipping point. Not a week goes by without an incident involving race.
“The players walking off is a step in the right direction, but it can’t just be left to them.”
Ferdinand’s brother Anton was involved in a high-profile incident in 2012 when Chelsea player John Terry was accused of racially abusing him during a match in England.
Many athletes have taken a strong stand against racism since Black Lives Matter protests flared around the world over the death of George Floyd during his arrest in Minneapolis in May.
Danny Makkelie of the Netherlands was named as the referee for the remainder of the game. The other officials will be Dutch and Polish. They replace Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan, his two assistants and Coltescu.
The president of the Turkish champions said his side refused to restart the game as long as the fourth official was still involved.
“The fourth official used the word ‘negro’ in front of everybody,” Goksel Gumusdag told Turkish television channel TRT Spor.
Basaksehir responded to the incidents by tweeting “NO TO RACISM #Respect,” along with a photo of UEFA’s anti-racism logo.
The message was retweeted by PSG.
“All forms of racism go against the values held by Paris Saint-Germain, the club’s chairman, staff and players,” the French champions said.
Regardless of the result of the match, PSG have qualified for the last 16 from Group H after RB Leipzig beat Manchester United 3-2 in Germany.
However, PSG will need to win the game in order to finish top of the group above the German team.


Pakistan Super League cricket series postponed with ‘immediate effect’

Updated 05 March 2021

Pakistan Super League cricket series postponed with ‘immediate effect’

  • PCB says decision made after seven coronavirus cases reported in the competition
  • Says will focus on the secure passage of all participants, arrange tests, vaccines 

KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board announced on Thursday it had decided to postpone the ongoing Pakistan Super League cricket series after a number of players tested positive for the coronavirus.
Three players tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. Islamabad’s two foreign cricketers, including Australian leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed, and another unnamed foreign player, are already in isolation after testing positive earlier this week.
“Following a meeting with the team owners and considering the health and wellbeing of all participants is paramount, the Pakistan Cricket Board has decided to postpone the HBL Pakistan Super League 6 with immediate effect,” the PCB said in a statement. “The decision was made after seven cases were reported in the competition, which had started on 20 February.”
“The PCB, as an immediate step, will focus on the safe and secure passage of all participants, and arrange repeat PCR tests, vaccines and isolation facilities to the six participating sides,” the statement said.
PCB has also decided to offer coronavirus vaccine doses to all participants of PSL, becoming the first cricket board to do so.
“The decision has been made in the line with the PCB’s duty of care policy and to ensure all participants of the league remain safe and healthy during the event, which concludes on 22 March,” PCB said in a separate statement on Wednesday. “The vaccine doses will be administered on Thursday and will be offered to all those inside the biosecure bubble. However, it will solely be the players and officials’ decision if they want to get the vaccine shots.”
PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said the cricket board took the “health, safety and wellbeing of its players and officials very seriously.”


Azam, Nabi cruise Kings to victory over Peshawar Zalmi

Updated 03 March 2021

Azam, Nabi cruise Kings to victory over Peshawar Zalmi

  • Afghan allrounder Muhammad Nabi declared man of the match for his impressive inning
  • In Wednesday's second match, Multan Sultans are taking on Quetta Gladiators

KARACHI: Pakistan’s star batsman Babar Azam and Afghan allrounder Muhammad Nabi cruised the Karachi Kings to victory over table toppers Peshawar Zalmi, defeating them by six wickets at the national stadium in Karachi on Wednesday.

Karachi Kings won the toss, invited Peshawar Zalmi to bat first and completed a chase of 189 runs with three balls to spare, making it 13 consecutive wins for a chasing team since the start of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2021.

Azam, who scored 77 out of 47 with the help of six fours and three sixes, fell one run short of scoring his 6,000 runs in the Twenty20 cricket career but ensured a win for his side and a place on the top of the points table. Nabi, who was dropped at 20 by Amad Butt, scored 67 of 35 with the help of eight fours and four huge sixes. He made a partnership of 118 runs with Azam, earning victory for his team. 

Nabi was declared man of the match for his impressive inning.

Kings lost their early wickets in their chase of 189 runs. Sharjeel Khan was caught out at the duck, Joe Clarke and Colin Ingram scored only 17 and three runs. Dan Christian, who came to bat after Nabi, scored16 of nine, including the winning shot.

Batting first, Zalmi’s inning started well but debutant Abbas Afridi sent back openers Kamran Akmal and Tom Kohler-Cadmore to the pavilion back-to-back in the fifth over. Akmal scored 21 of 17 and Kohler-Cadmore made 10 of 11. Shoaib Malik, who captained the team in the absence of injured Wahab Riaz, was the third to go in the next over after facing just two balls and making one run. Haider Ali, who batted well in previous innings, could score just nine out of 12 balls and was caught by Afridi on the ball of Christian in the tenth over.

Partnership of 83 runs between Sherfane Rutherford (46 of 32) and Ravi Bopara (58 of 40 not out) provided Zalmi a chance to score a defendable total, but this was Amad Butt’s blitzing 27 on seven balls that made the match interesting. Butt hammered the last over by Christian which turned a treat for the opposition. The Kings’ Australian bowler gave away 32 (almost 17 percent of Zalmi's total) runs in his last year.

Afridi remained the most successful bowler and grabbed two wickets by conceding 27 in his four overs. Muhamad Ilyas took two wickets in his four by giving away 27 runs. Imad Waseem and Arshad Iqbal proved expensive and conceded 16 and 10 respectively in their one and two overs. Christian who took the wicket of dangerous hitter Haider Ali and conceded 13 in first two remained the most expensive due to his over, which provided Peshawar Zalmi a good chance to fight for a win.

In the day's second match, Multan Sultans are taking on Quetta Gladiators which so far have lost all four matches they have played this season.


Documentary highlights Saudi Greens’ tournament run in 2019

Updated 03 March 2021

Documentary highlights Saudi Greens’ tournament run in 2019

  • All-female team competed in New York City while also promoting environmental causes

RIYADH: The profile of women’s football in Saudi Arabia continues to rise.

The first Women’s Football League was established in the Kingdom last year and now a new film documenting the historic appearance of the Saudi Greens at the 2019 Global Goals World Cup (GGWCup) is being released by the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA).

Launched across the SFA website, its YouTube channel and social media accounts last week, the documentary chronicles the all-women Saudi football team’s journey at the GGWCup in New York City.

It was the first time a female sports team from the Kingdom had ever competed in the US, but the team’s involvement went beyond just a sporting achievement.

The tournament framed the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a sport, as 30 teams worldwide competed to create the kind of world they would like to see. Each team created an action plan with a particular global goal and strived to achieve it in their own country while also competing in five-a-side football tournaments.

Regional qualifying rounds determined which teams progressed to the finals in New York, where the winner was decided based on the impact of its activism and performance on the pitch.

In 2019, the Greens focused on SDG 15 “Life on Land,” bringing attention to the effects of single-use plastics on the environment. Prior to the tournament, team members hosted community events and campaigns across the Kingdom, helping to educate people on the impact of plastics and the wider SDGs in general.

The team distributed reusable bags, collected litter, held awareness talks, and collaborated with local schools and sports clubs to collect plastic bottles and teach children about the importance of recycling.

After they progressed through qualifiers in Copenhagen, the Greens joined 14 other teams at the 2019 finals, where they finished in second place. 

The documentary highlights the team’s experience in New York, but not just in footballing terms. The film also reflects on the team’s social development, international bridge-building and the Greens’ role in boosting female empowerment within Saudi Arabia.

The Greens were formed in 2018 with support from the SFA, the Saudi Ministry of Sports and the country’s Olympic Committee. Less than three year later, the team has come to symbolize progress and female empowerment in the Kingdom.

Since the tournament, the team has hosted virtual workout sessions for the GGWCup Clubhouse, contributed to SFA events and initiatives, and paved the way for the Women’s Football League, which was launched last February.

The latest role for the team will be as ambassadors for the upcoming GGWCup Saudi Arabia – the Kingdom’s first qualifying round of the global competition – due to take place this year.


Islamabad beats winless Quetta by 6 wickets in PSL 

Updated 02 March 2021

Islamabad beats winless Quetta by 6 wickets in PSL 

  • Paul Stirling smashed 56 off 33 balls as Islamabad eased to 157-4 with three balls to spare 
  • Peshawar Zalmi, Islamabad and Lahore Qalandars share a three-way tie atop the leaderboard 

KARACHI: All-rounder Faheem Ashraf and Paul Stirling starred in Islamabad United’s emphatic six-wicket victory over winless Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League on Tuesday.
Fast bowler Ashraf’s 3-11 limited Quetta to 156-7 and then Stirling smashed 56 off 33 balls as Islamabad eased to 157-4 with three balls to spare.
The match was rescheduled for Tuesday after Islamabad’s leg spinner Fawad Ahmed tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. Two more foreign cricketers, including one unidentified Islamabad player, tested positive Tuesday before the Pakistan Cricket Board decided to go ahead with country’s premier Twenty20 tournament.
Quetta’s fourth successive loss at the toss continued a trend, as all 12 preliminary round matches have been won by teams chasing with all six captains opting to field first after winning the toss.
Peshawar Zalmi, Islamabad and Lahore Qalandars share a three-way tie atop the leaderboard after the conclusion of fourth round matches, with each having won three of their four games.
Quetta skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed (54) hit his second successive half century that featured four consecutive sixes off spinner Iftikhar Ahmed.
But Islamabad always looked ahead after fast bowlers Hasan Ali (2-23) and Ashraf picked up four wickets inside the first six overs of Quetta’s batting powerplay.
Ashraf sent Cameron Delport’s offstump cartwheeling off his first delivery before trapping Sarfaraz leg before wicket in his return spell as Quetta could score only one six and a four in their last seven overs.
Stirling took the game away from Quetta within the first three overs by propelling the total to 44-0. The prolific Irish batsman hammered South Africa’s Dale Steyn for four boundaries in one over after smashing leftarm spinner Mohammad Nawaz for two boundaries and a six in the first over.
Legspinner Zahid Mahmood (2-29) clean bowled Stirling in the 10th over off a sharp googly, but Rohail Nazir (34), playing his first PSL game this season, and captain Shadab Khan (21) made useful contributions to take the two-time champion home. 


Two more foreign cricketers positive for virus in Pakistan 

Updated 02 March 2021

Two more foreign cricketers positive for virus in Pakistan 

  • They bring to four the number of known infections in Pakistan Super League 
  • Pakistan Cricket Board official says league will continue with testing every three days 

KARACHI: Two more foreign cricketers and one staffer tested positive for the coronavirus in the Pakistan Super League on Tuesday. 
One unnamed player was from Islamabad United, while the other two’s names and teams were not identified by Pakistan Cricket Board media and communications director Sami Ul Hasan.

They bring to four the number of known infections in the league after Australian leg spinner Fawad Ahmed tested positive on Saturday. His Islamabad side had its scheduled game against Quetta Gladiators on Monday postponed to Tuesday.

Hasan said that game will go ahead, and the league will continue with testing every three days. Spectators will also continue to be allowed.

All four people who tested positive are in 10-day isolation.