Denmark coach steps up UEFA criticism over game resumption

Denmark’s coach Kasper Hjulmand attends a training session in Helsingor, north of Copenhagen, during the EURO 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 15 June 2021

Denmark coach steps up UEFA criticism over game resumption

  • Danish coach said UEFA failed to “lead with compassion” and that his players were put “in a hugely difficult situation”
  • Denmark was given the option by UEFA to either resume that evening or come back at noon on Sunday

COPENHAGEN: Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand stepped up his criticism of UEFA on Tuesday for not giving his players the option to postpone the game against Finland after Christian Eriksen’s collapse.
Hjulmand said UEFA failed to “lead with compassion” and that his players were put “in a hugely difficult situation” after the incident on Saturday at the European Championship.
The Euro 2020 game resumed following a suspension of about 90 minutes after Eriksen suffered cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated with a defibrillator.
Denmark was given the option by UEFA to either resume that evening or come back at noon on Sunday. That has led to widespread anger in Denmark and a spat between the team and UEFA about whether the players were pressured into coming back onto the field so soon.
Hjulmand pointed out that newly created coronavirus protocols for Euro 2020 allow UEFA to postpone a game for 48 hours if a certain number of players from one team test positive or have to self isolate.
”The only real leadership would have been to put the players on a bus and send them home. And then deal with it after,” Hjulmand said. ”With corona cases it’s possible to postpone a game for 48 hours. But with cardiac arrest, apparently it’s not. And I think that’s wrong. You don’t necessarily find good leadership in the protocols. Good leadership can sometimes be to lead with compassion.”
UEFA on Monday defended its handling of the situation and has repeatedly said it wasn’t possible to postpone the game for longer because Finland is due to play its second group game on Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Russia. Denmark plays Belgium in Group B in Copenhagen on Thursday.
Finland scored after the resumption and won 1-0. Had Denmark refused to play, it would have risked being handed a 3-0 forfeit loss.
“UEFA is sure it treated the matter with utmost respect for the sensitive situation and for the players,” the governing body of European soccer said. “It was decided to restart the match only after the two teams requested to finish the game on the same evening.”
However, the insistence from UEFA that it was the Denmark players who requested the resumption on Saturday has rankled both Hjulmand and his players. They insist that it would have been worse to come back Sunday after a sleepless night and that they should have been given a third option.
“It’s completely wrong to give the perception that it was we who came and said we wanted to continue playing as our first option. It was a choice between the two scenarios,” Hjulmand said. ”And then you can argue whether we were put under pressure. I felt that the players — and us close to them — were put under that pressure and were given that dilemma. It was a hugely difficult situation to be in.”
Eriksen remains in the hospital and sent his first public message via social media on Tuesday, thanking supporters from around the world for their well-wishes.
Denmark forward Martin Braithwaite said Monday that he and his teammates would have preferred a longer postponement.
”It was not our wish to play,” Braithwaite said. “But we were told we had to make a decision. ... There were many players who weren’t in a condition to play the match. We were in a completely different place.”
Hjulmand said he’s not expecting any kind of compensation from UEFA but is hoping that the governing body learns from the incident.
“Looking back, I don’t feel right that we were there (back on the field) after the incident,” Hjulmand said. “I think it showed so much strength from the guys, to be able to go out and play. That shows so much character, so much strength, and I’m very proud of that.
“Having said that, I don’t think it was the right thing to be given those two choices, play now or tomorrow at 12. … And maybe that’s a learning lesson for the future.”


Rauf helps high-flying Pakistan beat New Zealand in World Cup showdown in Sharjah

Updated 26 October 2021

Rauf helps high-flying Pakistan beat New Zealand in World Cup showdown in Sharjah

  • Fast bowler Haris Rauf took a career best 4-22 to help Pakistan defeat New Zealand by five wickets
  • This was Pakistan’s second successive win in Twenty20 World Cup, first one was against archrival India

SHARJAH: Fast bowler Haris Rauf took a career best 4-22 to help Pakistan defeat New Zealand by five wickets and record their second successive win in the Twenty20 World Cup on Tuesday.
Boosted by their brilliant performance in the 10-wicket rout of arch-rivals India on Sunday, Rauf inspired the 2009 champions to victory in front of a boisterous Sharjah crowd mainly comprised of Pakistani expats.
Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell both scored 27 for New Zealand, while skipper Kane Williamson made a laborious 25 off 26 balls as New Zealand were held to a below-par 134-8.
Veteran Shoaib Malik (27) and Asif Ali (26) came together with Pakistan wobbling at 87-5 and led the team to their target in 18.4 overs.

Pakistan's Shoaib Malik greets New Zealand's players after winning the Cricket Twenty20 World Cup match between New Zealand and Pakistan in Sharjah, UAE, on October 26, 2021. (AP)

Pakistan had lost skipper Babar Azam to Tim Southee — bowled for nine in the sixth over — as the paceman took his 100th wicket in his 84th T20 international.
He is only the third bowler behind Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan (117 in 92 T20Is) and Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga (107 in 84) to take 100 or more wickets in the format.
Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi trapped both Fakhar Zaman (11) and Mohammad Rizwan leg-before to leave Pakistan reeling at 69-4.
In between those two dismissals, Conway produced a brilliant diving catch at wide long-off to dismiss Mohammad Hafeez who attempted to lift spinner Mitchell Santner out of the ground.
When Imad Wasim fell for 11, Pakistan still needed 47 off 31 deliveries.
It was left to Asif — maligned for his continuous failures — to hit two sixes off Southee in the 17th over to bring down the target to 24 off the last three. Malik reduced that to nine in two overs by hitting a four and a six off Santner. Asif then smacked Boult for six before hitting the winning runs.

Pakistan's Asif Ali hits a six during the Cricket Twenty20 World Cup match between New Zealand and Pakistan in Sharjah, UAE, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (AP)

It was Rauf who did much of the damage with the ball against New Zealand — sent into bat on a sluggish pitch — improving on his previous best of 3-29, also against the same opponents last year.
Pakistan applied the pressure right from the start as left-arm paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi, whose three wickets against India earned him player of the match, bowled a maiden first over.
New Zealand reached 36 without loss when Rauf bowled Martin Guptill off his pads for 17. He also accounted for Conway and Glenn Phillips (13) in one over as New Zealand failed to lift the tempo at any stage.
There were no boundaries in overs 14 to 16 as even Phillips — who hit most sixes in the T20 blast in England this year with 36 — failed to clear the boundary.
Rauf also dismissed Santner (six) with the last ball of the final over.
Shaheen finished with 1-21 while spinners Hafeez and Imad also took a wicket each.
Pakistan kept the same team that beat India.
New Zealand — playing their first game in the Super 12s — were jolted before the start of the match when fast bowler Lockie Ferguson was ruled out of the tournament with a calf injury.
Pakistan next play Afghanistan in Dubai on Friday while New Zealand face India, also in Dubai, on Sunday.


Pakistan restrict New Zealand to 134-8 in T20 World Cup match in Sharjah

Updated 26 October 2021

Pakistan restrict New Zealand to 134-8 in T20 World Cup match in Sharjah

  • Pakistan produced another disciplined bowling display
  • Pakistan were this time led by fast bowler Haris Rauf

SHARJAH: Pakistan produced another disciplined bowling display to limit New Zealand to 134-8 in their Twenty20 World Cup clash in Sharjah on Tuesday.
Boosted after their brilliant performance in the 10-wicket win over arch-rivals India on Sunday, Pakistan were this time led by fast bowler Haris Rauf who finished with 4-22.
Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell were joint top-scorers with 27 each while skipper Kane Williamson made a laborious 26-ball 25.
Pakistan applied the pressure right from the start as left-arm paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi, whose three wickets against India earned him player of the match, bowled a maiden first over.
New Zealand reached 36 without loss when Rauf bowled Martin Guptill off his pads for 17. He also accounted for Conway and Glenn Phillips (13) in one over as New Zealand failed to lift the tempo at any stage.
Rauf also dismissed Mitchell Santner (six) with the last ball of the final over.
Shaheen finished with 1-21 while spinners Mohammad Hafeez and Imad Wasim also took a wicket each.
Pakistan kept the same team that won against India.
New Zealand — playing their first game in the Super 12s — were jolted before the start of the match when fast bowler Lockie Ferguson was ruled out of the tournament with a calf injury.


Bayern star Kimmich sparks vaccination debate in Germany

Updated 26 October 2021

Bayern star Kimmich sparks vaccination debate in Germany

  • On Saturday, Kimmich revealed he decided against being vaccinated, despite having founded the 'We Kick Corona" charity last year
  • Bayern president Herbert Hainer said he would be happy if Kimmich "still gets vaccinated, but there is no compulsory vaccination.

BERLIN: Joshua Kimmich will be under the spotlight for Bayern Munich at rivals Moenchengladbach on Wednesday amid a fiery debate in Germany since the footballer revealed he opted not to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The 26-year-old is set to play for Bayern in a German Cup second-round tie, but off the pitch, his decision not to get vaccinated has even drawn comment from the government in Berlin.
On Saturday, Kimmich revealed he decided against being vaccinated, despite having founded the ‘We Kick Corona” charity last year.
“It’s not that I’m a denier of the coronavirus or an opponent of vaccination,” said Kimmich, who based his decision on “personal concerns.”
The footballer’s stance drew comment from Caretaker Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, who hopes the footballer will inform himself and “let all available information about the vaccines approved in the EU sink in.”
Siebert urged Kimmich to get vaccinated because the Bayern star is “someone who is looked up to by millions” as a role model.
Kimmich appears to be in the minority among Germany’s top flight footballers.
Christian Seifert, managing director of the German Football League (DFL), has said around 94 percent of Bundesliga players are vaccinated.
Of Germany’s population of 83 million, around 66 percent are fully vaccinated, but Europe’s biggest economy is currently in the fourth wave with 10,000 new cases of the coronavirus reported Tuesday.
Since testing positive for Covid-19 last week, Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann has been giving training and matchday instructions from home where he is quarantined.
Kimmich says he may get vaccinated in the future and team-mate Thomas Mueller hopes it will be sooner rather than later.
“As a friend, it’s an absolutely acceptable decision,” said Mueller.
“As a teammate, and if you also look a little at what might be better for everyone... my opinion is perhaps that the vaccination would be better.”
On Monday, Bayern president Herbert Hainer said he would be happy if Kimmich “still gets vaccinated, but there is no compulsory vaccination. One has to respect the decision.”
Kimmich has drawn plenty of criticism from medical experts.
“Joshua Kimmich is certainly a proven expert in matters of football, but not an expert in matters of vaccination and vaccines,” Thomas Mertens, chairman of Germany’s Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko), told German media.
“It is the personal decision of Kimmich and it should have stayed that way.”
There is also some support.
In a statement, Carsten Ramelow, vice president of the footballers’ union VDV, said it must be “accepted if individual players have concerns about side effects of the vaccination and therefore hold a different opinion.”
The chair of the German Ethics Council also stressed the importance of respecting Kimmich’s “private decision.”
However, the council’s chairwoman Alena Buyx told Sky “I think it’s a pity. It would be great if he would have used his platform to get better advice in order to be a role model.”
Buyx is concerned skeptics could use his statements to “cast doubt over vaccinations.”


Students in Indian-administered Kashmir face terror law for cheering Pakistan win

Updated 26 October 2021

Students in Indian-administered Kashmir face terror law for cheering Pakistan win

  • Students and staff at two medical colleges being probed for celebrating India’s loss to Pakistan in T20 cricket game
  • Hundreds danced in the streets, lit firecrackers and chanted “Long live Pakistan” while seeking end of India’s rule over disputed region

SRINAGAR: Police in Indian-administered Kashmir are investigating students and staff at two medical colleges under a harsh anti-terror law for celebrating India’s loss to archrival Pakistan in a T20 World Cup cricket game, officials said Tuesday.
Police said some students and staff at the government-run colleges cheered and shouted pro-Pakistan slogans during the match Sunday night, calling it “anti-national” activity.
Pakistan crushed India by 10 wickets for its first-ever victory against its archrival in a T20 World Cup game in Dubai. Minutes after Pakistan won the match, hundreds of people in Indian-administered Kashmir danced in the streets, lit firecrackers and chanted “Long live Pakistan” while seeking the end of India’s rule over the disputed region.
The celebrations came as India’s powerful home minister, Amit Shah, was visiting the region for the first time since New Delhi in 2019 stripped Kashmir of its semi-autonomy, scrapped its statehood and removed inherited protections on land and jobs, further fueling tensions in the region.
Love of cricket, a legacy of Britain’s long colonial role of South Asia, is one of the few things that unites Pakistan and India despite their long history of animosity that has fueled three wars since the subcontinent’s partition in 1947, including two over control of Kashmir, which is divided between the two nuclear-armed rivals.
The fracas over Sunday’s match shows how easily passions can be inflamed in predominantly Muslim Kashmir, where anti-India sentiment runs deep. Rebels have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence or its merger with Pakistan since 1989.
A police spokesman said authorities on Monday registered preliminary investigations at two police stations in the city of Srinagar under the anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Police said the suspects were yet to be identified and officers were using videos of the celebrations on social media in an attempt to name them.
The anti-terror law was amended in 2019 to allow the government to designate individuals as terrorists. Police can detain people for six months without producing any evidence, and the accused can subsequently be imprisoned for up to seven years. Rights activists have called the law draconian.
Over a dozen Kashmiri students were attacked in India’s northern Punjab state for celebrating Pakistan’s victory, news reports said.
India describes the armed rebellion in the portion of Kashmir it controls as a Pakistan proxy war and state-sponsored terrorism. Most Muslim Kashmiris consider it a legitimate freedom struggle. Islamabad denies state complicity in any violence and says it only offers moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris.
The region is one of the most heavily militarized in the world. Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict.


Afghanistan beats Scotland by 130 runs in T20 World Cup

Updated 26 October 2021

Afghanistan beats Scotland by 130 runs in T20 World Cup

  • All of Afghanistan’s top-order batsmen were among the runs and hit big sixes

SHARJAH: Offspinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman and legspinner Rashid Khan bowled Scotland for 60 as Afghanistan started the T20 World Cup with a massive 130-run victory on Monday.
Mujeeb claimed three wickets in an over to finish with 5-20 while Rashid (4-9) ran through the tail quickly to dismiss Scotland in just 10.2 overs and raise Afghanistan’s biggest win in a T20.
Afghanistan had earlier posted a daunting total of 190-5 in its opening Group 2 match after skipper Mohammad Nabi won the toss and elected to bat.
“This was our plan, to bat first and put a big score,” Nabi said with a broad smile at the presentation ceremony. “Our openers started really well and finished the powerplay with a good score. … Everyone knows Rashid and Mujeeb are among the best (bowlers) in the world.”
All of Afghanistan’s top-order batsmen were among the runs and hit big sixes with Najibullah Zadran leading the way by scoring 59 off 34 balls.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz (46) smashed four sixes while opening batsman Hazratullah Zazai (44) hit three sixes and three fours to set the tone for a big total.
Scotland had upset Bangladesh in the qualifiers and advanced with convincing victories over first-timer Papua New Guinea and co-host Oman.
Opener George Munsey (25) started the run-chase in style by reverse sweeping offspinner Nabi for a six and a four in the first over as they raced to 27-0 in three overs.
But the wheels came off quickly in the fourth over when Mujeeb grabbed three wickets off five deliveries.
Mujeeb had Coetzer clean bowled and followed it up by trapping Calum MacLeod lbw on the backfoot off the next ball. Richie Berrington was out soon after when Mujeeb had him leg before wicket — again on the backfoot.
Recalled wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad then took a stunning diving catch to his right to dismiss Matthew Cross off fast bowler Naveen-ul-Haq before Mujeeb made it 37-5 in no time when he rattled Munsey’s stump in his next over.
Rashid resigned from the captaincy before the tournament, saying he had not been consulted on the team selection. But the legspinner bemused Scotland’s tailenders in a 14-ball spell by claiming four wickets to wrap up big win.
“We have been playing some good cricket to get here, but sometimes things don’t go to plan,” Scotland skipper Kyle Coetzer said. “We have to keep moving forward.”
Pakistan, which routed archrival India by 10 wickets on Sunday, and Namibia are the other teams in the same group.