JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is in talks with sports chiefs in Egypt and Greece over an audacious joint bid to host the 2030 football World Cup finals.
“The three countries are working flat out” and “the application to organize the tournament is being studied,” Mohammed Fawzi, spokesman for the Egyptian Sports Ministry, said on Friday.
Egypt had hosted many world championships in the past three years, Fawzi said, and was well qualified to stage football’s premier tournament.
A source at Greece’s Hellenic Football Federation in Athens confirmed that the three countries were holding discussions about a joint bid.
If the bid is successful, the tournament would take place in the winter of 2030 to avoid the extreme summer heat, as with this year’s World Cup finals in Qatar in November and December.
The bid will face competition from at least two other joint proposals. Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay launched a bid in early August to host the 2030 World Cup, while Spain and Portugal announced their joint candidacy last year.
The joint South American bid aims to stage the 2030 final in the same Centenario stadium in Montevideo that hosted the first final 100 years earlier. World football’s governing body FIFA will select a host for the 2030 tournament in 2024.
Hosting major international sporting events, including European club football and boxing world title bouts, is a key part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 development strategy.
BARCELONA, Spain: Barring a quick recovery for Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema or a change of strategy by Atlético Madrid, Sunday’s Spanish capital derby will be played mostly without the rivals’ leading stars.
Benzema is expected to miss the match at Atlético after being sidelined last week with a right leg injury he picked up in the 3-0 win at Celtic in the Champions League.
But the hosts could likewise be without goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who is also injured, while once again it seems likely that forward Antoine Griezmann will be limited to playing the final half hour because of a dispute between Atlético and Barcelona regarding his loan deal.
Madrid arrive to the derby on a roll, picking up from where they finished last season when they won both the European Cup and the Spanish league. Madrid have started the season with eight wins in as many games across all competitions and leads the league.
Atlético have had a lackluster start and enter the game five points behind in seventh place in the Spanish league.
Atlético coach Diego Simeone’s biggest problem, oddly enough, has been created by his own club.
Atlético have apparently asked Simeone to limit the minutes Griezmann plays in an attempt to avoid having to pay Barcelona 40 million euros ($40 million) stipulated in his loan contract if he played more than half the available minutes.
Barcelona say that Atlético should already pay the sum after the France forward played more than half the games last season, mostly as a starter for Simeone.
Atlético have a different interpretation of the loan deal that is in its second season. They seemingly are trying to reduce the overall average of Griezmann’s playing time to less than 45 minutes per game by the end of the season.
Atlético club president Enrique Cerezo said his club were not in talks to renegotiate the deal with Barcelona, which have threatened to take its league rival to court.
“I think on the Griezmman issue it is all very clear and everyone knows or imagines what is going on,” Cerezo said Wednesday. “Until this is completely resolved, if indeed there is something to solve, we will remain at this same point.”
Griezmann has produced in his limited role, scoring three goals despite not playing more than 30 minutes in all seven of his appearances. Atlético’s other playmaker, João Félix, has yet to score this season. Álvaro Morata, a former Madrid striker, has also scored three times and will most likely start.
Simeone may also be without his top goalkeeper as Oblak recovers from a knock. Ivo Grbic has taken his place in the last two games: a 4-1 win over Celta Vigo and Tuesday’s 2-0 loss at Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.
Madrid have done just fine without Benzema in the two matches he has missed. The team beat Mallorca 4-1 last weekend before topping Leipzig 2-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday.
On Benzema’s chances of playing against Atlético, Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said it would depend on him being back in shape to practice before the big game.
“We’ll have to see whether he’s able to train or not in the coming days,” Ancelotti said. “We won’t be risking anything at all. If he trains well on Saturday, he’ll be involved on Sunday.”
Barcelona host Elche on Saturday seeking a win that would move them a point ahead of Madrid.
Bayern Munich handed Barcelona their first loss of the season in any competition on Tuesday, 2-0 in Germany.
Robert Lewandowski missed clear scoring chances against his former team and will be seeking to rekindle his excellent form after having found the net nine times since arriving in Spain.
Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui is under pressure to get a win at Villarreal on Sunday. Sevilla have only one victory in seven games overall and were held 0-0 at Copenhagen in the Champions League this week, while Villarreal’s only loss came last week.
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud unveiled the National Gaming and Esports Strategy on Thursday.
The strategy marks the beginning of a new era towards leading the sector and making the country a global hub for the gaming industry by 2030, according to state news agency SPA.
It also serves the Saudi Vision 2030 objectives, which aim to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy, create new job opportunities in different industries and ‘provide world-class entertainment’ to residents and visitors.
“The National Gaming and Esports Strategy is driven by the creativity and energy of our citizens and gamers, who are at the heart of the strategy,” said the Crown Prince.
Raising the quality of life by improving players’ experience, providing new entertainment opportunities, and achieving an economic impact by contributing to the GDP by about 50 billion riyals are the strategy’s three main objectives.
SPA’s report also suggests that this will lead to the creation of 39,000 new job opportunities by 2030.
Saudi Arabia aims to produce more than 30 competitive games in the Kingdom’s studios and become one of the top three countries containing the highest number of professional esports players.
The country intends to implement the strategy through 86 initiatives covering the entire value chain, which was launched and managed by more than 20 government and private entities.
These initiatives are divided into eight focus areas, which include technology and hardware development, game production, e-sports, additional services, and other aspects such as infrastructure, regulations, education and talent acquisition.
The gaming and esports sector is considered the fastest growing among all media sectors, and is expected to reach $200 billion by 2023.
It also confirms the kingdom’s position as a geographical link between the East and West.
Among cricket’s unfathomable characteristics for those trying to understand the game from scratch are fielding positions and their names. Even once these are mastered, there is another, higher, plane to comprehend — that of their strategic use at different stages of the match. Over cricket’s history, positions, their use and importance, have evolved, continuously and gradually.
In pictures and photographs that depict the game up until the mid-19th century, fielders are shown to be static, dressed in elaborate headgear, sometimes top hats, which gave the impression that running after a cricket ball was a rare occurrence. Bowlers delivered the ball underarm, bats were of a curved design and those holding the bat had no leg protection. This set-up must have conditioned the direction in which the ball could be hit, along with its speed, both being determinants of where fielders were placed.
Anyone who has bowled in cricket will know the vital role played by the wicketkeeper. It is highly frustrating for a bowler to beat the bat, only to find that the wicketkeeper has been unable to catch or stop the ball. Until the late 18th century, it was customary for the bowler to assume wicketkeeping duties at the end from which he had just completed an over. The lack of a specialist wicketkeeper created the need for a fielder to be positioned behind the keeper on the boundary, known as long-stop. The position has now become obsolete as specialist wicketkeepers have assumed a critical role, especially once gloves and pads became available.
Standing in an arc to the immediate right or left of the keeper, depending on whether the batter is right or left-handed, are the slips. Their job is to catch or stop balls which glance off the edge of the bat. In most cases, these are the result of mistakes by the batter, so called slips in the language of the 18th and 19th centuries. Since the development of fast overarm bowling, it is common to witness four slips at the beginning of an innings and, also, at other times when an attacking field formation is required.
All positions can be divided into areas relative to the stance of the striker of the ball. If an imaginary line is drawn between the middle stumps, the offside of the wicket is the one in which the striker does not stand, whereas the on or leg side is where the striker stands when preparing to receive the ball. Another imaginary line drawn outwards from either side of the wicket to the boundaries, enables positions to be determined as backward or forward of the line. Backward positions are designated according to the extent to which they are square or fine of the wicket: Forward positions according to proximity to the striker — close, mid or deep — and straightness.
All of this has generated a complex-looking number of about 40 potential fielding positions. These can be used in conjunction, according to such variables as the circumstances of the match, type of bowler, perceived strengths and weaknesses of the striker, state of the pitch, weather conditions, and age of ball. In an attacking phase of the match, there are other close catching positions available to supplement this approach.
In addition to four slips, a gully can be positioned at the edge of the arc of slips, a forward and or backward short leg placed almost under the nose of the striker, and leg slips in catching positions. An extreme example of this occurred in 1947 when the West Australian captain Keith Carmody placed all nine fielders around the bat in an umbrella formation.
A classic and controversial use of fielding strategy, used in combination with a potent fast-bowling attack, occurred in 1932-33 in Australia. There, in an effort to dilute the batting prowess of Donald Bradman, some of England’s bowlers directed their deliveries at the bodies of the Australians. This forced them to play shots on the leg side, where no restrictions on the number of fielders existed at that time. The ill-feeling created by these tactics led to the introduction of a law that restricts to two the number of fielders behind square.
Limited overs cricket, in which the winning team is the one scoring the most runs, has placed much higher importance on fielding than Test cricket. The athleticism now witnessed in short format cricket can be extraordinary. The sliding stop on the boundary edge designed to pull the ball back before it crosses the boundary, first seen in the 1970s, is now a common part of a fielder’s repertoire, even at Test level.
It has also found its way down to club level, largely among younger players, to the bewilderment of their elders. They probably do not care much for fielding anymore, as hand-eye coordination deteriorates and the ball seems to hurt more when stopped by ageing hands and legs. Gone are the days when they tried to emulate the great fielders of their generation, mainly those who fielded around 25 meters from the bat on either off or on side.
These positions on the off side of the wicket allowed those with anticipation, speed of foot, ability to pick up the fast-moving ball up and throw at the stumps all in one flash, to bestride the field of play. One such player was the South African Colin Bland. Although his career was rooted in the 1960s, he is still rated by many as the greatest fielder of all time. This view centers on his ability to throw the ball to hit the wicket while running at full pace, often in the opposite direction and sometimes in midair.
Evidence of the game’s evolution can be encapsulated by discernible improvements in fielding skills, coupled with the expansion and use of potential positions to accord with strategic plans. Modern professionals spend hours honing their ground fielding and catching skills, so that these plans can be realized. Eccentric-sounding fielding positions serve to enrich the drama under which these plans play out.
NEOM: NEOM announced on Thursday the NEOM Beach Games 2022, bringing leading sport events from more than 25 countries to the sustainable regional development taking shape in northwest Saudi Arabia as it aims to become a hub for sport in the region.
The series of major sport events will launch on Oct. 19 and feature kitesurfing, triathlon, 3×3 basketball, beach soccer and mountain biking.
NEOM’s CEO, Nadhmi Al-Nasr, said: “We are delighted to host the NEOM Beach Games, which brings together local and international rights-holders for five globally popular sports in one diverse location in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“NEOM is a place of unparalleled natural beauty and will be the ideal backdrop for what promises to be a period of exciting competition among world-class athletes competing in a variety of challenging sports.”
The event will start with World Cup kitesurfing over the first five days, followed by Olympic-level competition at the short-course triathlon on Oct. 29. Other events include an international 3×3 basketball tournament (Nov. 4-5) and a four-day beach soccer competition that will see 12 teams from around the world take part from Nov. 9.
NEOM will host teams from more than 25 nations across the four sports. The NEOM Beach Games 2022 will conclude on Dec. 9 with a three-day desert mountain bike race, which will host 220 male and female riders from around the world for a four-stage event, varying from 80 to120 km per stage.
Jan Paterson, managing director of Sport at NEOM, said: “We are excited to be hosting world-class events in NEOM as we aim to develop a sporting hub which will contribute to our evolving sport ecosystem. Partnering with key sporting bodies will strengthen our goals of building a high-performance culture and inspire the next generation of athletes across the region.”