French federation to go after abusers of World Cup players

Argentina players celebrate after Emiliano Martinez saves a penalty taken by France’s Kingsley Coman during the penalty shootout during their World Cup Final at Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022. (Reuters)
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Updated 20 December 2022
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French federation to go after abusers of World Cup players

  • The federation said Tuesday that some players were hit by “unacceptable racist and hateful comments on social networks"
  • Isabelle Rome, the minister in charge of gender equality, said Kylian Mbappe and Kinglsey Coman were among those abused

PARIS: The French soccer federation wants to go after social media users who targeted some of the national team’s players with racist comments following France’s loss to Argentina in the World Cup final.
The federation said Tuesday that some players were hit by “unacceptable racist and hateful comments on social networks” and that it planned to file a complaint against those that posted abuse.
“The French soccer federation condemns with the utmost firmness these intolerable behaviors and abuses,” it said in a statement.
French government officials have expressed their indignation following the insults. Isabelle Rome, the minister in charge of gender equality, said Kylian Mbappe and Kinglsey Coman were among those abused.
Mbappe and Coman are Black.
Coman’s club, Bayern Munich, also condemned the racist comments targeting the winger, one of the French players who missed during the penalty shootout that decided Sunday’s final.
“The FC Bayern family is behind you, King. Racism has no place in sport or our society,” Bayern wrote on Twitter.
French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera tweeted her support to Coman and all the players abused, saying the heinous comments “have no place in soccer or anywhere else.”
France twice fought back for a 3-3 draw through extra time in Qatar before Argentina won a penalty shootout to cap one of the most exciting finals in World Cup history. Coman had an attempt saved by Argentina goalkeeper Emi Martinez and Aurelien Tchouameni then missed for France.


SailGP brings its Inspire program to Dubai ahead of showpiece event

Updated 05 December 2023
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SailGP brings its Inspire program to Dubai ahead of showpiece event

  • The Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas takes place on Dec. 9 and 10
  • Hundreds of students and members of the city’s sailing clubs will benefit from Inspire’s learning, careers and racing programs

DUBAI: Ahead of the return of the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas to the emirate on Dec. 9-10, SailGP is once again rolling out its dedicated community, education and outreach initiative, Inspire, to benefit hundreds of local youngsters and members of the sailing community.

SailGP said it founded the Inspire initiative with the aim of increasing diversity within the sport of sailing among young people, free of race, gender or socioeconomic barriers.

“The Inspire program is such an amazing part of SailGP and something unique to the championship,” said Pippa Kenton-Page, a sailing gold medalist at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and Inspire coordinator in the UAE.

“Engaging young people in the sport is something I’m particularly passionate about, especially those who may not otherwise have the chance to try sailing and get involved. SailGP offers this opportunity for young people all around the world to try sailing and be inspired by the amazing boats and athletes involved.

“For me, this part of the global league is really incredible and I can’t wait to see the young people of Dubai and Abu Dhabi getting on the water and hopefully introducing them to a lifetime of sailing.”

Through Inspire’s learning, careers and racing programs, SailGP said it aims to have a positive effect on the local communities that host its events, and create a legacy. To date, it added, 16,727 young people have taken part in the program, exceeding the initial target of 10,000, and the aim now is to have 25,000 young people participate by the end of season 5 in 2024/25.

Through the Inspire learning program, 200 students in Dubai between the ages of 9 and 15 from more than half a dozen schools, including JESS Dubai and Dubai Heights Academy, will have the chance to take part in what is described as a unique experience at P&O Marina’s Sailing Academy.

It includes a tour of the SailGP technical base at Mina Rashid, lessons from members the Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities exploring the science behind the sport. It all culminates in learn-to-sail sessions aboard RS21 racing boats.

The racing program, which is taking place at the academy this week, gives up to 10 young sailors each day the chance to take part in exclusive foiling taster clinics. Foiling is when a boat lifts above the surface of the water on hydrofoils as it moves, thereby reducing drag and increasing speed. Through the Inspire program’s partnership with sailboat maker Waszp, participants will have the opportunity to experience foiling for the first time and receive expert coaching, SailGP said.

The careers program gives 14 people of age 18 and over the chance to see how some of SailGP’s key departments work, including boat building, hydraulics, sustainability, media services and the shore team. SailGP said the aim is to showcase the variety of career paths in the sailing industry, and the selection process for the program prioritizes a mix of skills, backgrounds and diversity, making it the ideal platform for the next generation of sailing enthusiasts.

An “Adopt-a-Club” initiative, meanwhile, offers 300 people the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of high-performance sailing in a truly unique way, according to SailGP. This part of the Inspire program pairs 10 local sailing clubs with each of the 10 SailGP teams, giving members a chance to explore SailGP facilities, watch the preparation of the catamarans and gain insights into the logistical and technological aspects of high-performance sailing. Participants will also directly interact with SailGP athletes and other team members.

“P&O Marinas is incredibly proud to host the SailGP Inspire program at our Sailing Academy again,” said Hamza Mustafa, the chief operating officer of P&O Marinas.

“Inspire gives us the opportunity to both reach a great number of UAE youth who may not have had the opportunity to try sailing before, but also to inspire young sailors who are already engaged with the sport to accelerate their own skills, experience foiling and realize their dreams of competing in an F50 one day.

“It is a great program that combines theory and practice and we look forward to welcoming all the participants.”

Following the event in Dubai this week, the next round of the SailGP championship will be in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 13 and 14.


Golden triumphs during day 12 of Saudi Games 2023

Updated 05 December 2023
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Golden triumphs during day 12 of Saudi Games 2023

  • Winners receive medals from Princess Delayel bint Nahar Al-Saud, other leading figures
  • Athletes compete in table tennis, karate, handball, basketball, fencing, Thai boxing, futsal competitions

RIYADH: Princess Delayel bint Nahar Al-Saud, the deputy director of the Saudi Games, on Monday crowned the winners in the para table tennis competition at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Olympic Complex Paralympic Hall.

Al-Riyadh’s Ghaliah Al-Anzi secured the gold medal, Renad Al-Rehaili from Al-Sharqiya claimed silver, and bronze was presented to Al-Riyadh’s Maryam Al-Myrisl.

The princess also handed out awards to the winners in the women’s fencing contest, held at the Riyadh Club. In the epee category, Al-Shabab’s youth player Fawzya Al-Khibiri retained her Saudi Games gold medal title. Al-Nahda’s Nada Abed took silver, and Layan Ahmedo and Dana Al-Qassem from Al-Shabab both received bronze.

Jana and Mariam shine in karate:

Adwa Al-Araifi, assistant minister of sports affairs, presented awards to the winners in the women’s open-weight karate competitions, staged at King Saud University.

Maryam Al-Salah of Al-Hilal won the gold medal, while Samar Mokhtar from Al-Farouk took home the silver. Al-Nassr’s Noura Al-Rashed secured bronze.

In the women’s open-weight youth category, Hajer’s Jana Al-Omarin took the gold, Al-Hilal’s Jwan Feteiha silver, and Al-Ittihad’s Rana Faiad bronze.

Hajer takes the youth karate gold:

Hajer’s Abdullah Al-Garni secured the gold medal in karate’s under-55 kg men’s youth category, which took place at King Saud University. Khaled Al-Otaibi from Al-Ahli Club received silver, and Al-Saffa’s Ali Al-Aryani the bronze.

Mahdi Al-Munjem from Okh won gold in the under-61 kg category, silver went to Hajer’s Omar Shaman, and bronze to Bassam Shafei from Al-Hilal Club.

Hajer’s Abdulaziz Al-Saif scooped the gold medal in the under-68 kg category, while Al-Safa’s Haitam Oufkir took silver, and Al-Ahli’s Fahad Al-Otaibi bronze.

Al-Safa’s Abdullah Al-Qahtani won gold in the under-76 kg class, Hajer’s Enad Al-Mubarak silver, and Hamza Rami from Al-Nahdah Club claimed bronze.

In the over-76 kg competition, Abdulaziz Mansour from Al-Shabab Club was the gold-medal winner, with Hajer’s Fazaa Al-Saiar taking silver, and bronze going to Al-Fateh’s Yousef Al-Abdulazeem Safa.

Al-Hilal dominates karate with three gold medals:

Al-Hilal’s Saud Al-Basher secured the gold medal in the under-60 kg category in the karate competitions, also held at King Saud University. His teammate, Turki Al-Nami, won silver, and Saud Al-Dossari from Al-Nassr Club claimed the bronze.

Omar Al-Azmi from Al-Nassr won gold in the under-67 kg category, followed by Al-Ittihad’s Fahd Al-Khathami with silver, and Al-Ahli’s Anas Basha taking the bronze medal.

In the under-75 kg category, Ali Burnawi from Al-Ittihad secured the gold medal, Ali Mugari from Al-Safa Club the silver, Al-Hilal’s Majed Al-Khalifah the bronze.

Firj Al-Nashiri from Al-Hilal Club won gold in the under-84 kg class, with his teammate Mohammed Al-Maliki clinching silver. Al-Nassr’s Anas Al-Zahrani received the bronze.

Al-Hilal’s Sanad Sufyani secured gold in the over-84 kg category, and Ibrahim Al-Marzooq of the same club, took silver. Al-Safa’s Zayed Al-Bishi was the winner of the bronze medal.

Karate gold for Hajer youth:

Secretary-general and CEO of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, Abdulaziz Baeshen, awarded the medals for the karate winners.

Abdullah Al-Garni took home the gold in the youth under-55 kg category at King Saud University. The silver medal was won by Hajer’s Khaled Al-Otaibi, while Ali Al-Aryani from Al-Saffa secured the bronze.

In the men’s over-76 kg category, Abdulaziz Mansour from Al-Shabab Club won gold, followed by Fazaa Al-Saiari taking silver, and Yousef Al-Abdulazeem securing bronze.

Handball victories for Al-Qarah, Al-Khaleej, and Al-Safa:

In the men’s handball competitions, Al-Qarah defeated Al-Jeel 30-24 in the first group match held at King Saud University’s Sports Arena. Al-Khaleej overcame Al-Muheet 39-21, and Al-Safa defeated Al-Njoom with a score of 65-19 in the second group.

Al-Rawdah will face Al-Noor in the third group, while Al-Adalah will play against Al-Hada. Al-Wehda will compete against Al-Hazem in the fourth group.

Three matches in youth handball:

Al-Wehda defeated Al-Hazem 25-15 in the first group match at King Saud University’s Sports Arena, and Al-Noor secured a 32-18 victory over Al-Hada in the same group. Al-Khaleej will play Al-Ibtisam in the third group, and the second group will see Al-Ahli versus Mudhar and Al-Hilal take on Al-Qarah.

Women’s basketball semi-finals begin:

Jeddah United women’s basketball team began their campaign to defend their title with a victory over Al-Qadisiyah, winning 60-20 in the first match of the quarterfinals.

The Al-Ittihad team defeated Al-Nassr 48-36, while Al-Hilal overcame Al-Ahli 49-42. Jeddah United will next face Al-Ittihad, and Al-Hilal will play against Al-Asima.

Men’s basketball semi-finals begin:

The men’s basketball semi-finals take place at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Olympic Complex Sports Arena. Al-Ahli and Al-Hilal will open the matches, followed by Al-Nassr against Ohod.

Al-Nassr dominates youth fencing gold:

Al-Nassr’s athletes claimed the podium in the youth foil events. Gold was awarded to Saud Al-Rasheed, while Abdulaziz Al-Mugairen took silver, and Fares Al-Omair and Abdulaziz Hatem Al-Tuwaijri received the bronze.

In the men’s youth sabre category, gold was awarded to Al-Adalah’s Jehad Al-Obaid. Silver was presented to Al-Omran’s Ali Saeed Al-Hashem, and Al-Adalah’s Ahmed Al-Omran and Al-Watani’s Abdulsalam Turk Al-Anazi secured bronze.

In the youth men’s epee fencing category, Hassan Abed from Al-Nahda Club won gold, Al-Hilal’s Ahmed Hzazi took silver, and Youssef Al-Banai from Al-Hilal and Saleh Sultan Al-Sudais from Al-Nassr claimed bronze.

In the youth women’s sabre division, Al-Shabab’s Talene Al-Kudmani clinched the gold while her teammate, Zilal Ahmado, bagged silver. Luluh Al-Buqmi from Okaz and Al-Ettifaq’s Aleen Khalid Al-Amoudi took home the bronze.

Hattan wins gold in Thai boxing:

Hattan Al-Saif secured the gold medal in the women’s Thai boxing 57 kg category at King Saud University. Abdulrahman Al-Olayeq, the former secretary-general of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, and Rian Al-Ahmad, a Saudi Arabian Thai Boxing Federation board member presented the awards.

Ghadah Al-Shehri won the silver medal, while Dana Al-Ghussein and Reema Al-Ferdews received bronze.

Champions crowned in men’s Thai boxing:

Ahmad Rosli won the gold medal in the 57 kg men’s Thai boxing category, staged at King Saud University. Khalid Al-Dawalibi took the silver, and Alaraa Al-Amoudi and Abdullah Mohammed received the bronze.

Othmane Essaadaoui clinched the gold medal in the 63.5 kg category, with Abdullah Al-Qahtani taking silver, and Mujtaba Al-Zaki and Mehtab Khan bronze.

In the 75 kg class, Soufiane Marzaq was the gold-medal winner, while silver was presented to Abdulrahman Bajbaa. Ali Najee and Amer Al-Anzi both came away with the bronze.

Al-Riyadh wins gold in men’s futsal:

Al-Riyadh team claimed the gold medal in men’s futsal after defeating Al-Nassr 4-3. Al-Ittihad secured bronze after winning 8-5 against Al-Qadisiyah.

Dr. Khalid Bin Muqrin, board member of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, and former Saudi football star Majid Abdullah handed out awards to the winners.


Michael Thorbjornsen earns exemption into Dubai Desert Classic as No. 1 in PGA TOUR University

Updated 05 December 2023
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Michael Thorbjornsen earns exemption into Dubai Desert Classic as No. 1 in PGA TOUR University

  • 35th edition of tournament will be played at Emirates Golf Club on Jan. 18-21

DUBAI: As the No. 1 player in the PGA TOUR University ranking at the end of the fall college golf season, Stanford senior Michael Thorbjornsen has earned an exemption into the DP World Tour’s Hero Dubai Desert Classic.

The Rolex Series event and the 35th edition of the tournament will be played at Emirates Golf Club between Jan. 18 to 21 and is the third year the tournament has offered an exemption to PGA TOUR University’s top-ranked player.

Thorbjornsen competed in the 2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic on a sponsor exemption and posted a third-round 64 en route to a T20 finish in his first start on the DP World Tour. He also has four made cuts on the PGA TOUR, highlighted by a fourth-place finish at the 2022 Travelers Championship, and he qualified for the US Open three times.

His junior season at Stanford included wins at the Fighting Illini Invitational and Pac-12 Championship, and he was named 2023 Pac-12 Golfer of the Year and a PING First-Team All-American.

Texas A and M’s Sam Bennett (2022) and Texas Tech’s Ludvig Aberg (2023) were the first two players to earn the PGA TOUR University exemption into the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.

Since their starts in the event, Bennett went on to win the 2022 US Amateur and finished T16 at the 2023 Masters, and Aberg competed for Europe at the 2023 Ryder Cup and has wins at the DP World Tour’s Omega European Masters and the PGA TOUR’s RSM Classic.

Thorbjornsen will join world No. 2 and defending champion Rory McIlroy, who will be searching for his fourth Dallah Trophy in January with organizers set to announce more big players in the coming weeks.

Simon Corkill, executive tournament director of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, said: “Helping develop the next stars of tomorrow – both locally and overseas – is very important for us and our partnership with the PGA Tour provides a platform for golf’s young rising stars to not only compete against the world’s best professionals but also gain vital competitive experience that will help them take their game to the next level.

“We look forward to welcoming Michael Thorbjornsen to the Hero Dubai Desert Classic in January following an impressive year on the PGA Tour University calendar.”

Golf Channel will air all four rounds live of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic in the US and Canada, with SKY Sports Golf providing live event coverage in the UK and Ireland.

In partnership with the World Amateur Golf Ranking, PGA TOUR University ranks collegiate players based on their average performance in NCAA Division I men’s team competitions, official PGA TOUR tournaments, and select DP World Tour events over a two-year ranking period.


Jota seals top spot for Al-Ittihad in AFC Champions League’s Group C

Updated 05 December 2023
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Jota seals top spot for Al-Ittihad in AFC Champions League’s Group C

  • Jota's contribution means Tigers finish group with five wins and one defeat and can look forward to knockout stages

JEDDAH: Al-Ittihad took top spot in Group C in the Asian Champions League on Monday following a 2-1 win over Sepahan in Jeddah.

It marked a third straight victory for new coach Marcelo Gallardo and, more importantly, the return to action after a lengthy injury for center-back Ahmed Hegazi, although Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante are still struggling with injuries.

It proved a rewarding night for the 2004 and 2005 champions, although the game was far from easy against a strong Sepahan side.

The early stages went according to plan for the hosts, though, and in the 14th minute Saleh Al-Amri scored in spectacular fashion. He lined up a free-kick just outside the penalty area before curling the ball home into the corner of the net.

Fabinho then had the chance to extend the lead but his header was off target.

There was nothing wrong with the header from Sepahan’s Ramin Rezaeian three minutes after the restart, though. Mohammad Daneshgar’s long ball from the left side found the forward free at the back post and his header bounced once before ending up high in the top corner of the net beyond Abdullah Al-Mayouf, who was in goal in place of usual No. 1 Marcelo Grohe.

The experienced goalkeeper had an impressive game and made a number of vital saves against opponents who enjoyed more possession and had more attempts on goal than the hosts.

It was left to Jota to settle the tie midway through the second half with his first goal in the Asian competition. After a slow and patient buildup from the back, Abderrazak Hamdallah picked up possession just outside the Iranians’ area and slipped the ball through for the Portuguese winger to stab home the winner.

Rezaeian almost earned the visitors a share of the spoils with a late free-kick but Al-Mayouf saved to give Ittihad and their new Argentine coach another win.

It means that the Tigers finish the group with five wins and one defeat and can look forward to the knockout stages, which start in 2024, with confidence.

It also means that, following a league game against Damac on Thursday, Ittihad can focus on the FIFA Club World Cup in Jeddah and an opening game against Oceania champions Auckland City. Gallardo will be hoping that the likes of Benzema and Kante can return to fitness in time for the tournament.

But, for now, Ittihad are on the winning track.


Al-Hilal look good in AFC Champions League after another victory

Updated 04 December 2023
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Al-Hilal look good in AFC Champions League after another victory

  • A 2-1 win over Nassaji Mazandaran ensures top spot in Group D
  • Jorge Jesus’ men are looking unstoppable at the moment, even when they rest top-class international players such as Aleksandar Mitrovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

Al-Hilal made sure of top spot in Group D of the AFC Champions League on Monday with a 2-1 win over Nassaji Mazandaran.

Goals in each half from Michael and Salem Al-Dawsari proved enough to defeat the Iranians and for Al-Hilal to progress to the second round unbeaten and in fine form with 15 wins from the last 15 in all competitions.

Jorge Jesus’ men are looking unstoppable at the moment, even when they rest top-class international players such as Aleksandar Mitrovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

Both of those players scored in last Friday’s 3-0 win over Al-Nassr in the Riyadh derby, and Al-Hilal carried on from where they had left off, scoring this time after just four minutes.

Mohammed Al-Breik collected the ball on the left side of the area and rolled it across the six-yard box. It evaded everyone but Michael who was there at the far post to blast home from close range.

The Blues continued to push forward and Saud Abdulhamid, Al-Breik, and Saleh Al-Shehri — given a rare start by his coach after his recent heroics for the national team — all had attempts on goal.

Home fans may have expected their side to stroll to victory but, while dominating possession, they were made to work for the second goal.

They thought they had it just before the half hour when Abdullah Al-Hamdan broke free of the defense, but his low shot was well saved by Hossein Khatir. That was not the end of the danger either, as the ball bounced off Amir Houshmand and headed toward goal before the goalkeeper clawed it off the line.

The visitors, who had already been eliminated, had not looked too dangerous going forward, but that changed just before the break. Hossein Zamehran took a free-kick from the right and Mahmoud Rahmati stooped to send a perfect low header toward the opposite corner, Yassine Bounou getting down quickly to make a fine diving save.

Al-Hilal grabbed a second goal early in the second half. Al-Hamdan lifted a pass over the defense for Al-Dawsari who, under pressure from defenders, pushed the ball past the goalkeeper.

It all looked too easy, and with 13 minutes remaining, the Iranians pulled one back through Rahmati. Kalidou Koulibaly headed away a cross but it fell to the forward who volleyed high into the net to give Bounou no chance.

That was it as far as goals were concerned, but there looks to be much more to come in the AFC Champions League for Al-Hilal.