Psllivecricket t20 world cup 2022 World Cup run temporarily masks Argentina's inflation misery – Arab News

World Cup run temporarily masks Argentina's inflation misery – Arab News

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BUENOS AIRES: Argentina’s economy may be sinking but the entire country is buoyant, basking in the elation of its football team led by iconic captain Lionel Messi reaching the World Cup final.
The dream of landing Argentina’s third world title, 36 years after the last one, seems — at least for now — to have let Argentines forget their woes.
That No. 3 seems significant today, and not just because Messi and his teammates seek to put a third championship star on the team’s blue and white jersey.
Sporting glory arrives at a time when many people believe the inflation that has wreaked havoc on the South American nation’s economy will reach a barely believable triple digits for 2022.
Last Thursday, the INDEC statistics institute published the price index for November, around six percent, suggesting inflation, which already stood at 88 percent over the last 12 months, is not decelerating.
Argentina has had double-figure inflation for decades.
But there is a genuine feeling that soccer success — and that Messi magic — can alleviate the pain of millions in a country where the poverty level is over 40 percent.
Before the tournament in Qatar began, Argentina’s Labor Minister Kelly Olmos was even asked whether lowering inflation was more important than winning the World Cup.
“We must constantly work against inflation, but one month won’t make a huge difference,” she said.
“On the other hand, from a morale point of view, given what it means for all Argentines, we want Argentina to be champions,” Olmos added. “The Argentine people really deserve some joy.”
Predictably, that provoked a barrage of criticism.
And yet Argentines crowd around television screens in droves to watch the team’s matches, whether in bars, homes, even a Buenos Aires ‘fan zone.’
Most of these fans could never dream of affording a ticket to Qatar in a country where the average wage is a meagre 66,500 pesos ($390).
“People are well aware of the problems” but football and the economic situation “are on parallel paths, they don’t meet,” Lucrecia Presdiger, a 38-year-old hospital worker, told AFP after Argentina’s quarterfinal victory over the Netherlands.
“Many people really need this joy and are making the most of it. But they don’t take it literally, they know it’s only football, they are perfectly aware of the problems,” Presdiger said, adding: “You shouldn’t take them for fools.”
For designer Tony Molfese, an Argentina triumph would be “a relief, a breath of fresh air, a joy, even momentary – and we deserve it.”
Olmos drew parallels with Argentina’s first World Cup success in 1978, when the country was run by a military dictatorship.
“We were under dictatorship, persecuted, we didn’t know what tomorrow held, but Argentina became champions and we went out to celebrate in the streets,” she recalled.
“And then we went back to the reality, which was unrelenting.”
Despite the great passions football inspires, it remains just a game, according to writer Ariel Scher.
“Football bestows individual and collective joy, but that joy is transient, it doesn’t eliminate the other problems of existence,” Scher, a university lecturer and football specialist, told AFP.
“It’s like when our child passes an exam: We’re delighted but that doesn’t pay the bills.”
The power of football is that “it gives us the possibility of a happiness that is both transient and eternal,” added Scher.
“No problems will be resolved or eliminated but at the same time, even briefly, it dazzles us with something that leaves a lasting memory.”
In a November poll, more than three quarters of Argentines said the country’s fortunes at the World Cup would have an effect on people’s morale.
Some 32 percent even said they thought the result would affect the next presidential election in 10 months time.
Political scientist Raul Aragon scoffed at such an idea.
Regardless of what happens in Sunday’s final “the social mood will return to what it was before. And no political force could capitalize on any eventual victory.”
LISBON: Portugal coach Fernando Santos has quit, the Portuguese soccer federation announced Thursday, after eight years in the job and five days after Portugal’s exit from the World Cup in the quarterfinals.
The 68-year-old Santos reached an amicable agreement with the federation to leave two years before his contract ends, a statement said.
The federation named no replacement for Santos and said they were starting their search.
Santos led Portugal to the 2016 European Championship title — the country’s first international trophy — and the inaugural UEFA Nations League title in 2019.
Portugal left Qatar after a 1-0 loss to Morocco in the World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.
The Portuguese squad had an enviable depth of talent and won their opening two games in the group stage. In the round of 16, they made a splash by thrashing Switzerland 6-1.
But Portugal’s early departure from Qatar was widely regarded as an underachievement.
Whoever takes over faces a tricky question of how to manage Cristiano Ronaldo’s future role in the team.
The 37-year-old star, who has made five appearances at World Cups over 16 years and is Portugal’s record scorer and greatest ever player, was dropped from the starting lineup for the Switzerland game when a new generation of Portuguese players emphatically made their mark.
Against Morocco, he again started on the bench.
Those tactical options caused friction between Santos and his star player, who left the field in tears after the Morocco defeat.
In a later Instagram post, Ronaldo said his dream of winning the World Cup had “ended,” but he didn’t say he would retire from international duty.
Portugal’s qualifying campaign for Euro 2024, at least, appears straightforward. In Group J their opponents are Bosnia, Iceland, Slovakia, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.
Portugal’s next international games are in March.
BERLIN: Disgraced former tennis superstar Boris Becker was due back in Germany on Thursday after being deported following his release from a British prison where he served a sentence relating to his 2017 bankruptcy, his lawyer said.
The 55-year-old German six-time Grand Slam champion “was released from custody in England and has left for Germany today,” his Berlin-based attorney Christian-Oliver Moser said in a statement.
He added Becker has “served his sentence and is not subject to any penal restrictions in Germany.”
Moser declined to provide information on where Becker would arrive and said any requests for interviews “will not be answered.”
News magazine Der Spiegel said Becker landed in Munich in the afternoon on a chartered private plane but later withdrew the report, saying that he had not been on board although he was on the passenger list. Daily Die Welt said Becker had landed in Stuttgart.
German national Becker was jailed for two and a half years in April for flouting insolvency rules by hiding £2.5 million ($3.1 million) of assets and loans to avoid paying debts.
He had been declared bankrupt in June 2017, owing creditors £50 million over an unpaid loan of more than £3 million on his estate on the Spanish island of Majorca.
A judge at Southwark Crown Court in south London told Becker, who has lived in the UK since 2012, that he would serve half of his sentence in prison. However he was released on Thursday morning.
Becker was initially reported to have been held at Wandsworth Prison in southwest London, near the All England Club at Wimbledon where he won three titles.
He was then transferred to the lower-security Huntercombe prison near Oxford, southern England, for foreign criminals awaiting deportation.
Becker qualified for removal as he is not a British citizen and received a custodial sentence of more than 12 months.
The Sun newspaper on Tuesday said Becker’s mother Elvira, 87, told a friend that her son’s release from prison was “the best Christmas present I could hope for.”
“I cannot wait to hold my beloved son in my arms,” she was quoted as saying.
Media reports suggested he would stay with friends in Frankfurt.
During his trial, Becker recounted how his career earnings were swallowed up by a costly divorce from his first wife Barbara, child maintenance payments and expensive lifestyle.
He said he was “shocked” and “embarrassed” when he was declared bankrupt and had relied on advisers to manage his life outside tennis.
But he insisted he had cooperated with trustees trying to secure his assets.
Judge Deborah Taylor disagreed, telling him he had shown no remorse or acceptance of his guilt.
“You… have sought to distance yourself from your offending and your bankruptcy. While I accept your humiliation as part of the proceedings, there has been no humility,” she said.
Becker, with a shock of strawberry-blond hair, shook up the tennis world in 1985 when he became Wimbledon’s youngest men’s singles champion at 17.
Nicknamed “Boom Boom” Becker for his ferocious serve, he repeated the feat the following year and won a third title in 1989.
He also won the Australian Open twice and the US Open during his glittering career, becoming the top-ranked player in the world in 1991.
He landed a high-profile commentary role with the BBC after his retirement, but returned to the court in 2013 coaching Novak Djokovic.
On Wednesday, excerpts were released of a new Apple TV+ documentary on Becker from the time leading up to his very public downfall.
Just before he was sentenced, an emotional Becker admitted he had hit rock bottom. “I don’t know what to make of it,” he said.
But added: “I will face it. I’m not going to hide or run away. I will accept whatever sentence I’m going to get.”
ABU DHABI: When Borna Coric was just 17 years old and ranked 124 in the world, he shocked third-ranked Rafael Nadal during their first-ever meeting in Basel, in 2014.
At 18, the Croatian broke into the top-40 rankings for the first time and by 22 he hit a career-high No. 12. Now 26 years old, Coric, who was considered a teenage phenomenon, is brutally honest when assessing his own career progression.
“When I was No. 33 in the world — probably at my best at the time I was 18, 19 — I wasn’t able to deal with it,” Coric told Arab News ahead of his Mubadala World Tennis Championship debut on Friday.
“I just got way too… I thought, it’s going to be much, much easier. I thought, okay now I’m top-30 and next year I’m going to be top-15, next year I’m going to be top-five, and the year after that I’m going to be No. 1 or top-three. And I stopped working hard. I got very complacent.
“I didn’t actually improve my tennis and I felt those three or four years, between 2015 and 2019, I was just there on the same level, pretty much. If you watch my game when I was 18 and when I was 22, it was pretty much the same. And then if you watch my game, I feel at least when I was 24 and now, it’s a big, big difference.”
Coric is a last-minute replacement for Frances Tiafoe in Abu Dhabi this weekend, where he will take on Andrey Rublev in his opening match on Friday. The winner of that clash will face Carlos Alcaraz, who at the age of 19 is already a Grand Slam champion and the reigning world No. 1.
“What he’s doing is absolutely unbelievable,” Coric said of Alcaraz. “It’s very good for him that he has such a good team around him. They know what they need to do to keep him on the same level, being No. 1, or just being at the top.
“He’s an unbelievable player, an unbelievable talent and I know he’s a very, very good guy, I know him very well.
“I have absolutely no doubt that he’s going to stay there. If you’re asking about me, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it at that age for sure.”
A post shared by Borna Coric (@bornacoric)
Now older, wiser, and looking to put behind him a shoulder injury that sidelined him for a year, Coric explained what triggered his desire to change his approach to tennis and figure out a way to develop his game to its full potential.
“Probably just seeing that I was stuck at pretty much the same place for three years,” he said. “I just realized I need to change something, I need to focus more on the game, I need to study the game more.
“I was always working hard but I just felt that in those three years, which are very, very important in my opinion because there you can improve a lot and you don’t need to worry much about everything else, I just didn’t improve.
“I would just play the tennis to play it, I would just train to train, but I wasn’t training on my weaknesses, I was not thinking why I lost. My mentality was not so focused on the tennis.
“Nowadays I always try to see why I played badly. I try to understand, if I was slow that day, why I was slow. If I was tired, I try to understand why I was tired and then, obviously, I try to implement that in my training sessions. I just think there is way more thought given to my training and my tennis than when I was younger.”
After undergoing shoulder surgery and spending 12 months on the sidelines, Coric returned to action at Indian Wells in March but suffered a string of early, three-set defeats that resulted in him dropping as low as 278 in the world rankings.
He began to find his game again after the French Open, clinching a Challenger title on clay in June. Two months later, the Zagreb native stunned the field at the Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati, defeating three top-10 players — Nadal, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Stefanos Tsitsipas — en route to claiming the biggest title of his career.
It was a remarkable run, which helped Coric return to the world’s top 30 and contributed to him being named the 2022 Comeback Player of the Year.
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Reflecting on his first few weeks back on tour earlier this season, when the results were not going his way, Coric said: “It was not very easy for sure. I lost a couple of matches that were very, very tight.
“Having the ranking I had back then, I saw I was spending all of my protected rankings and not making much of the points. Obviously you can get a little bit panicky and it adds extra pressure.
“But at the same time I knew I needed to keep working hard. I think the good part was also that I didn’t think much about my tennis because my shoulder was still not 100 percent, so I had pains and niggles and it would be up and down. So when I was losing, I was probably more focused on recovery and my shoulder. That’s why I didn’t think much about tennis.
“I probably started to think more about tennis after the French Open, when I started to play Challengers. Then I was able to focus more on the tennis and not think so much about my shoulder.”
Coric said he has two main goals for 2023: To stay healthy for the whole season and to “attack the top 10 again.” He added that he now has a better understanding of what it takes to be a top-10 player compared with five years ago and will not be disappointed if he is unable to join that elite ranking bracket. The most important thing, he explained, is that he knows he gave it his best shot.
“If I finish top-15 and if I give my best in the whole season, which I will, I’ll still sleep well at night,” he said.
The world No. 26 was training in Dubai with his coach, Mate Delic, and fitness trainer and physiotherapist Yiani Louizos when he got the call to replace Tiafoe in the Abu Dhabi exhibition tournament.
Further testament to his work ethic is the fact that Coric opted not to go to Qatar to watch Croatia face Argentina in the World Cup semi-finals, instead opting to maintain his strict training regimen.
“I was thinking whether to go there or not but then I knew I probably wouldn’t be doing this interview if I’m there,” he said. “I would have probably been very tired from the game and from the night so I decided to stay healthy and to be professional.
“Croatia has had an absolutely amazing run; I was enjoying watching the games. We watched every game here, from Dubai. There isn’t much I can say other than they did an unbelievable job and hopefully we can win the (third-place) medal now, it’s going to be tough but that’s what we’re hoping for.”
Morocco’s historic run to the World Cup semifinals came as no surprise to Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur, who praised the ambition and spirit of the Atlas Lions’ coach Walid Regragui.
The world No.2 is currently in Abu Dhabi, where she is set to take on former US Open champion Emma Raducanu in an exhibition match on Friday at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
Jabeur, a history-maker herself as the highest-ranked African woman ever in the sport, flew to Qatar to support Tunisia against France in their World Cup group-stage clash and will be heading there once again for Sunday’s Argentina-France final.
She has followed Morocco’s journey in Doha closely and is convinced an Arab or African team will one day win the World Cup.
“I always believed in that,” she told reporters in the UAE capital on Thursday.
“I just love the Moroccan spirit and, hopefully, each country will follow that path because, honestly, nothing is impossible.”
No surprise here: @Ons_Jabeur wins the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award, voted by her peers “in having demonstrated conduct befitting of a professional sports figure and observing the rules of fair play, showing respect for others and being gracious on and off the court”.
Regragui frequently spoke to his players about the importance of “getting rid of the feeling of inferiority” against other teams and fully believed in their mission throughout their campaign in Doha.
As a result, Morocco became the first African and Arab country to make the final four at the World Cup before suffering a battling defeat to France on Wednesday.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s so great to see them doing so well,” Jabeur told Arab News.
“In their quarterfinal against Portugal, you know my heart was with Cristiano (Ronaldo) a little bit, but with Morocco, too. I was trying to be neutral, but Morocco always wins. For me, my heart was with Morocco.
“They’ve done a great job, they seemed so focused and I’m not surprised. I know Morocco has done a lot of great things from before and I like listening to their coach.
“It’s really amazing to see how determined he is. He said a lot of amazing things that I’ve been kind of saying from before about the Tunisian team.
“We share the same philosophy, like, ‘Stop you guys, it’s not about the color of your skin, where you come from or whatever; it’s about the confidence, if you know you can do it then you will do it.’
“So that really touched me, the way that he speaks.
“I like how he also spoke to some Moroccan journalists who didn’t believe in him, they didn’t even name him as a coach. It’s nice he spoke to them so now they can realize and they can start to believe even in more in their team.”
Jabeur on Netflix doc: It’s gonna be great to show how we r outside the court. I know ppl are curious to know what’s going on, I am curious to know sometimes how ppl are doing, be it footballers or tennis players, so I think it’s gonna be great & I think everybody should watch it
Jabeur, who is this year’s Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award winner, is in her final two weeks of preseason training before flying to Australia, where she will begin her 2023 in Adelaide.
She has been working hard with her coach Issam Jellali and husband/fitness trainer Karim Kamoun and took the chance to hit with other players, including Paula Badosa and Anastasia Potapova, in Dubai before making the trip to Abu Dhabi.
“Preseason has been tough, they’ve been killing me, but it’s part of the process,” she said with a laugh, referring to Jellali and Kamoun.
Jabeur reached back-to-back Grand Slam finals at Wimbledon and the US Open — unprecedent feats by an African woman or an Arab player in the Open era — and has her sights fixed on the top spot and that elusive Grand Slam title.
“2022 was a crazy year, a lot of emotions, a lot of great results,” she said on Thursday.
“I always like to set the bar very high for myself and I’m always very happy to achieve that. Definitely will use this experience of 2022 to be ready for 2023 with much higher goals. I want to be No.1. I want to win this Grand Slam, hopefully.
“The experience of playing a lot of tournaments and being in the latter stages of tournaments will definitely help me be ready for 2023.
“It’s always nice to be in Abu Dhabi, to be in an Arab country. It just feels like home. Every time I feel Arab fans they’re really supportive and their words really touch me. I hope the stadium will be full tomorrow.”
LUXEMBOURG: The European Court of Justice’s top legal adviser said Thursday that football governing bodies UEFA and FIFA had acted within the law when they threatened to expel clubs or players who joined a proposed Super League.
The opinion of Advocate General Athanasios Rantos is not binding on the court, which is examining a complaint from the firm that planned to start the new league, but it will be influential and taken as a sign of the direction the case is taking.
“EU competition rules do not prohibit FIFA, UEFA, their member federations or their national leagues from issuing threats of sanctions against clubs affiliated to those federations when those clubs participate in a project to set up a new competition,” he wrote.
The court’s final decision on the complaint is not expected until early next year, but the decision will be a relief for the world’s biggest football associations and the existing national European leagues wary of allowing some of their richest clubs to break away.
The legal opinion was immediately welcomed by lobby groups representing European football clubs, leagues and supporters.
Fan association Football Supporters Europe said: “Last year, twelve obscenely wealthy clubs tried to destroy European football by creating a closed breakaway league.
“They failed because fans across the continent — including their own -stood in solidarity against their plans.”
And the European Club Association hailed Rantos’ advice as “a clear rejection of the efforts of a few to undermine the foundations and historical heritage of European football for the many.”
The Spanish Liga also welcomed the news.
“La Liga is a strong advocate of the current model of European soccer, which has proven to be successful. The creation of a Super League outside of this governance model would also mean the end of European national leagues,” the Spanish league said in a statement.
“La Liga, along with other European leagues, will continue to fight for European institutions to legislate and provide legal protection for the current European model of soccer,” said La Liga president Javier Tebas.
The attempt to set up an elite trans-European league in 2021, under the aegis of the European Super League Company (ESLC), initially attracted the support of some of the continent’s biggest and richest clubs — but triggered a backlash from fans and several governments.
The effort fell apart within a frantic 48 hours that threatened to see the European game implode, but left behind bitterness and a key legal question.
The ESLC filed a complaint with a Spanish court accusing UEFA, which regulates European football and organizes the Champions League and Europa League, of “abusing its dominant position” in the market to squeeze out fair competition.
The case was appealed to the EU’s top court and the eventual ruling will be keenly watched by teams and fans across Europe, worried that a super league would form an exclusive club cornering marketing money and preventing smaller outfits from breaking into the top flight.
If the court follows its adviser’s reasoning, the ESLC’s challenge will fail.
“Whilst ESLC is free to set up its own independent football competition outside the UEFA and FIFA ecosystem, it cannot however, in parallel with the creation of such a competition, continue to participate in the football competitions organized by FIFA and UEFA without the prior authorization of those federations,” Rantos wrote.
If the court agrees, players from a super league might not be eligible for selection to their national sides in UEFA’s European Championship and FIFA’s World Cup. Super league teams could be excluded from national leagues and competitions such as England’s FA Cup.
European law generally protects commercial competition, but the advocate general found that the soccer governing bodies’ threats “may be justified by legitimate objectives related to the specific nature of sport.”
In the case of the short-lived super league initiative, this may be a moot point.
Initially it was supposed to create a new competition for 12 clubs: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Fellow giants Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich refused from the start to take part and the English clubs quickly distanced themselves from the plan in the face of fan fury.
UEFA imposed light fines on the nine clubs that dropped out quickly, extracting a commitment that they would not try again, but Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus face a disciplinary inquiry that has been put on hold pending the legal ruling.


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