Willian leaves Corinthians following death threats

Corinthians' Willian (R) and Flamengo's Rodinei (L) vie for the ball during their Copa Libertadores football tournament quarterfinals all-Brazilian second leg match, at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday. (AFP)
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Updated 12 August 2022

Willian leaves Corinthians following death threats

  • "Willian asked us for his (contract) termination," said club president Duilio Monteiro Alves
  • "Whenever Corinthians lost and I didn't play well, my family received threats and insults on social media," Willian told the Globo Esporte website

SAO PAULO: Former Chelsea and Arsenal midfielder Willian quit Corinthians on Friday following the Brazilians’ Copa Libertadores elimination against domestic rivals Flamengo, after claiming he and his family received death threats on social media.
“Willian asked us for his (contract) termination. We are sad not to have him anymore and also because it didn’t go the way we expected. But we have to keep those here that are happy,” said club president Duilio Monteiro Alves.
It was only a year ago that the 34-year-old only rejoined the club where he made his professional debut in 2006. Local media have linked him with a move to promoted English Premier League side Fulham.
The return to Corinthians in Sao Paulo quickly turned sour for Willian both on the pitch where he scored one goal in 45 matches, and off it.
“Whenever Corinthians lost and I didn’t play well, my family received threats and insults on social media. My wife, my children, recently they also started attacking my father, my sister,” Willian told the Globo Esporte website.
“I didn’t play as well as I expected but I was never a player who scored 20 or 30 goals a season,” he told ESPN Brasil on Wednesday.
Willian, who also played for Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine and Russians Anzhi Makhachkala, leaves the club three days after they were eliminated from the Copa Libertadores quarter-finals by Flamengo, 3-0 on aggregate.


Ukraine to join Spain and Portugal in 2030 World Cup bid

Updated 10 sec ago

Ukraine to join Spain and Portugal in 2030 World Cup bid

NYON, Switzerland: War-torn Ukraine will join Spain and Portugal in a bid to host the 2030 World Cup, presidents from the three countries’ football associations announced on Wednesday.
The original proposal was made public two years ago but has been given a political impetus by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The institutional headquarters are in Madrid, the administrative headquarters are in Lisbon. Now the Ukrainian delegation will unite with us,” the Spanish football association’s (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales said.
“In the coming months, we will come to work on practicalities,” he added.
RFEF, which organized the 1982 edition, said in a statement the idea was backed by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.
“The Royal Spanish Football Federation and the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) have incorporated the Ukrainian Football Association (UAF) into the Iberian Bid to organize the 2030 World Cup,” RFEF said.
“With the full support of Aleksander Ceferin, the Iberian bid incorporates the federation chaired by Andriy Pavelko in order to build bridges and project a message of unity, solidarity and generosity from all of European football,” it added.
Portugal held the 2004 European Championship while Ukraine was a joint host with Poland of Euro 2012.
“The example of tenacity and resilience set by the Ukrainian people is inspiring,” the FPF said.
The FPF added that the joint bid “aims to contribute through the power of football to the recovery of a country undergoing reconstruction.”
It added the terms of Ukraine’s role in the bid “will be discussed and defined in due course.”
It follows the announcement last month from an Egyptian official that Egypt, Greece and Saudi Arabia are in talks to jointly host the 2030 World Cup.
In August, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay launched their bid to host the event — which is the centenary of the first World Cup, held in Uruguay — with the hope of bringing the global showpiece back to its first home.
The 2026 edition has already been awarded to three countries — Canada, Mexico and the United States.
More than half of the 21 World Cup finals already staged have been in Europe but later this year Qatar will host the finals, the first time they have been played in the Middle East.

‘Mindboggling’ how Babar Azam handled relentless pressure, criticism — Shadab Khan

Updated 52 min 26 sec ago

‘Mindboggling’ how Babar Azam handled relentless pressure, criticism — Shadab Khan

  • Pakistan vice-captain Shadab Khan backs Babar Azam ahead of triangular series
  • Pakistan to play New Zealand, Bangladesh in coming days before T20 World Cup 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan cricket team’s vice-captain Shadab Khan on Wednesday threw his weight behind skipper Babar Azam, praising him for handling “relentless pressure” and “sometimes unfair criticism” as the green shirts prepare for their triangular series against New Zealand and Bangladesh. 

Azam, widely regarded as the best T20I batter in world cricket today, has been criticized by fans over Pakistan’s recent losses in the Asia Cup 2022 and in the home series against England. At times, fans have questioned Azam’s captaincy decisions, his playing XI choices and blamed him for the team not batting aggressively. 

Pakistan have a hectic T20 schedule ahead of them in the coming days and weeks. Azam’s team are scheduled to play Bangladesh on Friday and New Zealand on Saturday for the triangular series. On October 23, they kick off their T20 World Cup campaign with a clash against arch-rivals India.

Khan, in a blog published on the Pakistan Cricket Board’s website, said the more he learns from Azam, the more his admiration for the 27-year-old grows. “The way this 27-year-old, who is relatively new to the leadership role, has handled relentless pressure and sometimes unfair criticism while ensuring his own performance doesn’t slip, is simply mindboggling,” he wrote. 

“He has stood like a rock for his players and fully backed them. This is the hallmark of a leader, this is how you earn respect from your players and this is how you develop your team,” Khan added. 

Khan said Azam had thrown his weight behind every member of the team, adding that it is up to them to rise to the occasion. “If we have to make our captain stand tall and be proud, then we have to convert our potential into performances,” he added. 

Khan responded to the backlash after Pakistan’s 4-3 loss at home to England, saying the team had “only two poor days in the office” if the series was properly analyzed. 

“But we understand and accept the anger and frustration of the fans and public: they’ve once again started to pin hopes on us after what we have achieved as a team in the past 12 months,” he added. 
 


Christensen ruled out as Barca injury crisis deepens

Updated 05 October 2022

Christensen ruled out as Barca injury crisis deepens

  • The Denmark centre-back was taken off in the 1-0 defeat by Inter Milan on Tuesday
  • Barca are already without Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde and Hector Bellerin in defence

BARCELONA: Barcelona defender Andreas Christensen has suffered a sprained ankle, the club confirmed on Wednesday, leaving the Catalans with only two fit center-backs.
The Denmark center-back was taken off in the 1-0 defeat by Inter Milan on Tuesday at the San Siro, and is a doubt for upcoming games, including the Clasico on October 16.
Barca are already without Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde and Hector Bellerin in defense, as well as Dutch duo Memphis Depay and Frenkie de Jong.
“Tests carried out on Wednesday have confirmed that the first team player Andreas Christensen has a sprained left ankle,” said Barca in a statement.
“He is unavailable and his recovery will dictate his return.”
Gerard Pique and Eric Garcia are set to line up in the center of defense against Celta Vigo on Sunday in La Liga, with Xavi thin on alternatives beyond using players from the B team.
Inter visit Camp Nou on Wednesday October 12, a crucial game for Barca’s hopes of qualifying for the next round of the Champions Leagues, before the Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu.


Saudi Arabia wins right to host Asian Winter Games in 2029

Updated 05 October 2022

Saudi Arabia wins right to host Asian Winter Games in 2029

  • Games to be held at Trojena, winter sports complex being built in northwest of Kingdom as part of the futuristic NEOM megacity
  • Olympic Council of Asia said the Saudi bid was “unanimously approved” at general assembly meeting in Phnom Penh

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia was chosen on Tuesday to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at Trojena, a year-round winter sports complex being built in the northwest of the Kingdom as part of the futuristic NEOM megacity.

“The deserts and mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for winter sports,” the Olympic Council of Asia said after the Saudi bid was “unanimously approved” at its general assembly meeting in Phnom Penh.

Trojena, which is due to be completed in 2026, is in an area of NEOM where winter temperatures drop below zero and year-round temperatures are generally 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the region.

One of 10 regions within NEOM, it is about 50 km inland from the Gulf of Aqaba in an area that, like much of the rest of the Kingdom, receives very little rainfall. The site spans 60 square kilometers, at an elevation of between 1,500 and 2,600 meters.

The complex will have year-round skiing, chalets, mansions, ultra-luxury hotels and a five-meter-deep manmade lake filled with desalinated sea water.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said that Trojena “will redefine mountain tourism for the world by creating a place based on the principles of ecotourism, highlighting our efforts to preserve nature and enhance the community’s quality of life.”

Among those on the successful Saudi bid team for the Games was alpine skier Fayik Abdi. “I never believed I would ski in my homeland,” he said.

There will be 47 events at the Trojena Games — 28 on snow and 19 on ice — including competitions for skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey and figure skating.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, president of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said the success of the Saudi bid to host the Games was “a great victory for the Saudi nation and the people of the Gulf countries.”

He said: “The Saudi sports sector significantly contributes to … the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.”

The successful bid “also shed light on the enormous potential and the outstanding infrastructure of Saudi Arabia to host and organize international-level sports competitions and games successfully.”

Committee vice president Prince Fahd bin Jalawi said the Saudi leadership was “sparing no effort to push Saudi sports forward alongside the most advanced countries in the world.”

NEOM chief executive Nadhmi Al-Nasr said Trojena would have “suitable infrastructure to create the winter atmosphere in the heart of the desert, to make the Winter Games in Trojena an unprecedented global event.”


Tunisian star Jabeur eases into second round at home in Monastir

Updated 05 October 2022

Tunisian star Jabeur eases into second round at home in Monastir

  • The 28-year-old, whose ambition is “to be a good example for all the young people who follow her” has won three WTA titles including two this year in Madrid and Berlin

MONASTIR, TUNISIA: Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur eased into the second round of her home tournament at Monastir on Tuesday with a straight sets win over American Ann Li.

Top seed Jabeur, a finalist at both Wimbledon and the US Open this year, won 6-2, 6-3 in the first-ever WTA tour event to be hosted in Tunisia.

The world No. 2 took 73 minutes to dispatch her 67th ranked opponent in their first meeting.

The Monastir tournament, staged on the central coast of Tunisia, is just the second women’s professional circuit organized in Africa, after that of Rabat in Morocco.

Jabeur is hugely popular in north Africa, and the world No. 2 is hoping “to reach the final and win in Monastir to make Tunisians happy.” 

The 28-year-old, whose ambition is “to be a good example for all the young people who follow her” has won three WTA titles including two this year in Madrid and Berlin.

“Young people must gain self-confidence to achieve their ambitions,” said the player dubbed “Minister of Happiness” in a Tunisia hit by a deep political and economic crisis.

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