Granit Xhaka was booed by fans as he was substituted in the 61st minute of Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Crystal PalaceArsenal captain Granit Xhaka says he “reached boiling point” following repeated threats to his wife and daughter, as he explained his angry confrontation with fans on Sunday.The Swiss midfielder was booed while he walked off the pitch at Emirates Stadium, prompting him to cup his ear.In an emotional statement, he said he had been “hurt deeply” by comments on social media and at matches recently.They included ‘Kill your wife’ and ‘Wish that your daughter gets cancer’.Breaking his silence for the first time since the incident, Xhaka, 27, said he got “carried away” and reacted “disrespectfully” to fans.Arsenal manager Unai Emery had called for Xhaka to apologise for his reaction but the player instead said he was sorry if people had thought he was being disrespectful.”The scenes that took place around my substitution have moved me deeply,” Xhaka said in statement on Instagram on Thursday.. “I love this club and always give 100% on and off the pitch.”My feeling of not being understood by fans, and repeated abusive comments at matches and in social media over the last weeks and months have hurt me deeply. “People have said things like, ‘We will break your legs’, ‘Kill your wife’ and ‘Wish that your daughter gets cancer’. That has stirred me up and I reached boiling point when I felt the rejection in the stadium on Sunday.”In this situation, I let myself be carried away and reacted in a way that disrespected the group of fans that support our club, our team and myself with positive energy. That has not been my intention and I’m sorry if that’s what people thought.”My wish is that we get back to a place of mutual respect, remembering why we fell in love with this game in the first place. Let’s move forward positively together.”It was not the first time Xhaka had been booed by his own fans this season, with Emery publicly defending the midfielder after a game against Aston Villa last month.That uneasy relationship with the Gunners fans did not stop Emery appointing Xhaka as club captain in September after the summer departure of Laurent Koscielny.However, Emery has refused to confirm whether Xhaka will remain captain after Sunday’s incident.
Going for goal: Saudi Arabia kicks off first women’s football league
RIYADH: First they opened the grandstands to women, now Saudi Arabia is encouraging them to cross the touchline and compete in the Kingdom’s first Women’s Football League tournament. The historic competition kicks off on Tuesday morning, with 24 teams across Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam competing for a championship cup, and a $133,000 cash prize. The…
RIYADH: First they opened the grandstands to women, now Saudi Arabia is encouraging them to cross the touchline and compete in the Kingdom’s first Women’s Football League tournament.
The historic competition kicks off on Tuesday morning, with 24 teams across Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam competing for a championship cup, and a $133,000 cash prize.
The Kingdom opened its stadiums to women football supporters in January, 2018, but this is the first time they will have been allowed to compete in a tournament.
The competition has been lauded as an important step for the Saudi sports world, with many in the game throwing their support behind the event.
Calling the competition a “positive step,” Abdullah Alyami, Saudi football coach and sports reporter, said he expects many more women to participate in future tournaments.
“This is a very happy day for all athletes, be they male or female. And based on what we’ve seen, and how beloved the sport of football is all over the Kingdom, I believe we will see many more of our sisters getting involved in professional sports,” he said.
عبدالله اليامي: انطلاق #الدوري_النسائي في #السعودية خطوة إيجابية.. وأتوقع إقبالا كبيرا على المشاركة في فرق كرة القدم النسائية#تواصل #قناة_الرسالة@m3sss3 pic.twitter.com/UxRa8pZSWo
— قناة الرسالة (@alresalahnet) November 17, 2020
Saudi sports reporter Riyan Al-Jidani tweeted his support.
“To all my dear sisters participating the Women’s Football League, your success in the tournament is a step in the right direction towards our dream of universality and representing our homeland to the outside world. Raising the flag on the field is a glory and pride,” he said.
The tournament was due to start in March – but the coronavirus pandemic stopped play.
But for some that just presented the opportunity to up their game.
“We started preparations early, and the delay due to the pandemic actually worked in our favor. We were able to take more than two months to prepare for the tournament,” Maram Al-Butairi, general manager and head coach at Dammam-based Eastern Flames FC.
Amal Gimie, 26, an Eritrean midfielder for Jeddah’s Kings United, previously told Arab News that she had been playing the beautiful game since she was eight.
“There was a match every weekend. The boys made us play as goalkeepers in the beginning, and in 2002, when I first saw the Women’s World Cup, it sparked my passion to learn more about this sport,” said Gimie, who is also a management information systems graduate. She joined her first female football team, Challenge, in Riyadh in 2014.
She said: “It was the first time I joined something organized. I was happy to be playing but at the same time I felt as though it was an unreachable goal (to become a professional athlete or join an official league), I felt like I was growing older without achieving anything.”
The matches won’t be broadcast, but Saudi’s army of football fans remain excited by the tournament.
Wejdan Al-Shammary, who grew up playing sports in school, said she would have tried for a team “in a heartbeat” if she had been just a few years younger.
“I played both basketball and football on my high school teams. I was a complete sports nut, but it makes me happy to know that even if it’s too late for me to achieve those dreams, there’s a chance now for young Saudi girls that I never had,” she said.
Najla Ahmed, a 16-year-old from Riyadh who plays on her school’s football team, said she would try for a local team in 2021.
“I’ll be 17, and therefore eligible, and I would love to see anyone try and stop me,” she said.
Both women said they hoped this was just the start and that more sports would be opened up to women.
“Football is just the beginning. I would love to see more focus on other sports, as well. Basketball, tennis, maybe even competitive swimming,” said Al-Shammary. “I’m sure we have so many potential Olympians among us who just need their talents nurtured.”
NFL game postponed over Covid-19 cases
Tennessee Titans’ long snapper Beau Brinkley (left) and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (right) have been put on the reserve/Covid-19 listThe NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday has been postponed because of Covid-19 cases.The game will be rescheduled for Monday or Tuesday after the outbreak among Titans players and staff.On Tuesday,…
Tennessee Titans’ long snapper Beau Brinkley (left) and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (right) have been put on the reserve/Covid-19 listThe NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday has been postponed because of Covid-19 cases.The game will be rescheduled for Monday or Tuesday after the outbreak among Titans players and staff.On Tuesday, defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, long snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson were put on the reserve/Covid-19 list.The NFL has since shut down the team facility.According to the NFL network, a fourth player also returned a positive test on Wednesday.The Titans played the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis last Sunday.The Vikings’ facility was also closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and it is unclear whether their scheduled game with the Houston Texans will take place on Sunday.
Pliskova survives scare at French Open
Karolina Pliskova reached the Italian Open final earlier in SeptemberCzech second seed Karolina Pliskova came from a set down to avoid an upset against Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in the French Open first round.World number four Pliskova, 28, had eight set points in the opener, before losing to Sherif – ranked 172nd in the world…
Karolina Pliskova reached the Italian Open final earlier in SeptemberCzech second seed Karolina Pliskova came from a set down to avoid an upset against Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in the French Open first round.World number four Pliskova, 28, had eight set points in the opener, before losing to Sherif – ranked 172nd in the world – in a tie-break.The 2017 semi-finalist wrapped up a quick second set against the 24-year-old after winning four games in a row.Pliskova came through a tense decider to claim a 6-7 (9-11) 6-2 6-4 victory.”It was super tough,” she said. “Especially after losing the first set after having set points.”She played a great game, especially in these conditions.”Sherif kept up an impressive level throughout and the pair exchanged breaks at the start of the second set.But Pliskova then won four games in a row, eventually holding serve to level things.The Czech was made to work much harder for the final set as she failed to convert five break points before winning the sixth to go 4-3 up.She held serve and wrapped up the match after two hours and 15 minutes with an ace down the middle.Pliskova, who has never won a Grand Slam, will face Latvian world number 43 Jelena Ostapenko in the second round.Live scores, results and order of playAlerts: Get tennis news sent to your phone