Saudi fans boo Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos at Spanish Super Cup final

Real Madrid player Toni Kroos. Credit: @IamPrinceSanya2
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Updated 15 January 2024
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Saudi fans boo Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos at Spanish Super Cup final

  • The 34-year-old midfielder was targeted following his earlier criticism of players who chose to move from Europe to play in the Saudi Pro League

Riyadh: Real Madrid player Toni Kroos found himself at the center of a social media storm following his team’s victory in the Saudi Arabia-hosted Spanish Super Cup, where he faced jeers from the crowd.

For the second consecutive match, Saudi fans booed the German whenever he touched the ball during Real Madrid’s 4-1 win against Barcelona in the competition’s final on Sunday.

The 34-year-old midfielder was targeted following his earlier criticism of players who chose to move from Europe to play in the Saudi Pro League.

In a post on X after the final, he said: “We just won a trophy!” 

In response, one X user said: “You won the trophy, but you lost the respect of all Saudi fans. We are not happy to see you in our country, we hope that is the last time.”

However, another user praised Kroos’ 95 percent passing accuracy in the match, despite the boos.

Kroos had received a similar negative reaction from the crowd during his team’s match against Atletico Madrid in the cup semi-final.


Amr Zedan clinches Royal Charity Polo Cup 2024 at Windsor

Updated 13 July 2024
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Amr Zedan clinches Royal Charity Polo Cup 2024 at Windsor

  • Saudi Polo Federation’s President Amr Zedan wins for second time in row
  • Zedan participated in the US Polo Assn team, which was led by Prince William

LONDON: The US Polo Assn team, led by the Prince of Wales, Prince William, and with the participation of the Saudi Polo Federation’s President Amr Zedan, have won the Royal Charity Polo Cup 2024.
It was Zedan’s second triumph in a row in the competition, which was held at the Guards Polo Club fields in Windsor, London, with the Japanese company Out-Sourcing Inc sponsoring the tournament.
The US Polo Assn team were crowned after drawing with the Malaysian team BP 4-4 and surpassing them on goal difference in the championship rounds.
Alongside Prince William and Zedan in the attack were Ayawat Srivaddhanaprabha, the CEO of King Power, representing Thailand, and Mark Tomlinson, representing the UK. Khaled Al-Ajmi, a board member of the SPF, and Faisal bin Dwaid, the federation’s CEO, were also present.
Zedan’s participation helped in furthering the SPF’s role in local and international social responsibility, while helping it toward its goals through participation and support in social events.
British media reports said that Prince William had taken part in the polo match to help raise more than $1.5 million for his charities. According to the UK’s royal family website, the funds raised by the match will be distributed across 11 charities and causes supported by Prince William and the Princess of Wales.


Saudi’s Hattan Alsaif fights for women’s place in Mideast MMA, continues winning start

Updated 12 July 2024
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Saudi’s Hattan Alsaif fights for women’s place in Mideast MMA, continues winning start

  • At PFL MENA 2 on Friday night, 22-year-old beat Egypt’s Iman Baraka at Riyadh’s Green Halls
  • Alsaif made winning debut in the Professional Fighters League against Egypt’s Nada Faheem in May

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Hattan Alsaif is fighting to prove that women deserve their place in the world of combat sports.

The 22-year-old Muay Thai striker recently made history by becoming the first female from the Kingdom to be recruited by a major mixed martial arts organization when she joined the Professional Fighters League.

In May, Alsaif made her highly-anticipated debut during the inaugural season of PFL MENA. She knocked out Egypt’s Nada Faheem by head kick in the second round, much to the delight of fans in Riyadh.

On Friday, she continued her winning start to her MMA career by beating Egypt’s Iman Baraka at Riyadh’s Green Halls.

Alsaif hopes to inspire other Saudi Arabia women to take up the sport.

“Combat sports isn’t exclusive to men anymore,” Alsaif said. “It’s open to both sexes.”

Alsaif has some big names in her corner, namely fellow Saudi Arabian fighter Abdullah Al-Qahtani, who is currently the Kingdom’s biggest MMA star.

“He supports me, he helps me develop my game, and he gave me a lot of motivation after my first PFL win,” Alsaif said of Al-Qahtani.

Alsaif said she does not feel pressure when fighting, but rather a determination to succeed.

“Winning my last fight wasn’t pressure, it was validation,” she explained. At PFL MENA 2 this weekend, she steps back into the cage to take on another Egyptian fighter.

“It showed my preparation was perfect, and now I’m even more confident facing Iman Baraka,” she said.

Alsaif said she enjoyed fighting in her hometown. “The energy of the Saudi fans after my first win was incredible. It fueled my training and showed me I was on the right track.”

“I saw the love and support from the fans after my victory, and it made me even hungrier to win again. I’m ready to step into the cage and prove myself,” she added.

“The last fight was a great victory, but now my focus is on Iman Baraka. I’m not dwelling on the past, I’m training for the challenge ahead.”


Team Falcons soar to victory, claim Call of Duty crown at Esports World Cup

Saudi Team Falcons crowned at Esports World Cup's week 1. supplied
Updated 07 July 2024
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Team Falcons soar to victory, claim Call of Duty crown at Esports World Cup

  • Their triumph marked the inaugural win of the tournament, setting a high bar for the competition
  • The Esports World Cup, running from July 3-Aug. 25, features 22 tournaments across 21 game titles

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s Team Falcons soared to victory in a historic moment for the nation’s esports scene, claiming the Call of Duty: Warzone championship at the Esports World Cup held in Boulevard Riyadh City.

The local favorites, comprising Shifty, Soka and Biffle, clinched the grand final with a commanding performance, securing a prize of $200,000. Their triumph marked the inaugural win of the tournament, setting a high bar for the competition.

The SEF Arena witnessed intense battles among 10 top-tier teams, culminating in Team Falcons’ decisive victory. Reflecting on their victory, Soka expressed gratitude to the passionate Saudi fans whose unwavering support fueled their success. The electrifying atmosphere and vocal encouragement from the crowd played a pivotal role, boosting the team’s morale throughout the competition.

Biffle echoed these sentiments, highlighting the energy of the home crowd that propelled them to greatness. The team’s dominance was evident from the early stages, having swept through the group stages with flawless victories.

Their success was a culmination of rigorous preparation and strong team chemistry, as acknowledged by Shifty. He stressed their commitment to excellence and the unparalleled bond among the trio, attributing their confidence and resilience to the fervent support of Saudi fans.

The Esports World Cup, running from July 3-Aug. 25, features 22 tournaments across 21 game titles. As the first week concludes with thrilling matchups in Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, League of Legends and Dota 2, Team Falcons’ triumph stands as a testament to Saudi Arabia’s growing influence in the global esports arena.


Saudi national football team to face UAE at West Asian Youth Championship final

Updated 04 July 2024
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Saudi national football team to face UAE at West Asian Youth Championship final

RIYADH: The Saudi national football team has qualified for the final match of the Arab Diar Championship for West Asian U-19 teams, organized by the West Asian Football Federation and hosted by the Taif Governorate, Saudi Arabia, state news agency SPA reported on Thursday.

The semifinal matches were held on Wednesday, where the Saudi national team defeated its Syrian opposition with a score of 2-0, while the UAE defeated Jordan 2-1.

The final match is scheduled to be held next Friday at the King Fahd Sports City Stadium in the Taif Governorate at 9 p.m.


‘Exponentially larger’ World Cup in Riyadh to elevate Esports to new heights, says tournament CEO

Ralf Reichert, CEO of the Esports World Cup Foundation. AN video
Updated 27 June 2024
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‘Exponentially larger’ World Cup in Riyadh to elevate Esports to new heights, says tournament CEO

  • 8-week tournament a ‘leap forward’ for global gaming, organizers say
  • ‘Unprecedented’ broadcasting network will ensure expanded global coverage

Riyadh: In a significant leap for the global gaming industry, Riyadh is set to host the Esports World Cup, which promises new levels of competition and cultural exchange.

Building on the success of previous events such as Gamers8, the new tournament aims to elevate esports to new heights.

Arab News interviewed Ralf Reichert, CEO of the Esports World Cup Foundation, ahead of the event to explore the global impact of the tournament on the gaming industry and beyond.

“We don’t want to be just another competition. Our goal is to leapfrog the industry and bring it together on a scale never seen before,” he said.

“With 22 competitions and 21 games, this is not just twice as big as anything before — it’s exponentially larger.”

Reichert highlighted Riyadh’s strategic location as a bridge between the West and the Middle East, creating a unique opportunity to unite gamers from both regions.

The eight-week event will celebrate the sport and its culture, pushing the entire industry forward, he said.

The CEO said there is a clear vision for the tournament, but executing it on this scale was daunting.

“Time was our biggest enemy,” he said. Despite this, strong support from publishers, a comprehensive qualification strategy, and numerous broadcasting partnerships have been secured.

“If you haven’t heard about it yet, our job is to make sure you do,” he added, emphasizing their commitment to broadening the event’s reach.

The response to the tournament has been overwhelmingly positive, with significant interest from broadcasting and media partners.

“We initially aimed for 15 games, but we’re starting with 21, featuring the best games in the world,” Reichert said.

Global esports supporters have rallied behind the event, resulting in more than 50 broadcasting partners worldwide.

“We’ve built an unprecedented broadcasting network, ensuring true global coverage from companies across the US, India, Africa, South America, Korea, and China.”

Reichert also discussed the thriving gaming culture in Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East.

“About 67 percent of the Saudi population identifies as gamers. Gaming is a core cultural pillar here,” though the world may not fully realize this yet, he said.

The region’s young population and leadership are highly supportive of gaming, backed by initiatives such as Vision 2030, and the national gaming and esports strategy. 

Saudi Arabia has already produced several gaming champions, and the CEO sees the Esports World Cup as a catalyst for nurturing more local talent.

“This tournament is a chance for fans to see the best gamers live and for aspiring players to envision themselves on these stages,” he said.

The event aims to inspire young gamers to pursue their dreams of becoming national and even global stars, helping to further popularize esports worldwide.

In a message to gaming fans, the CEO encouraged everyone in the region to attend the event. 

“You’ll witness the best sport in the world played live and experience fantastic gaming, esports, and cultural entertainment. This is more than just a tournament— it’s a fanfest. We call it the Esports World Cup Festival, a historic moment you don’t want to miss. If you can’t be there in person, make sure to tune in online.”