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World Cup 2022: Fifa tells all competing nations to ‘focus on football’ in Qatar

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Fifa has written to all 32 teams competing at the World Cup telling them to “now focus on the football” following a controversial build-up.Host Qatar has been criticised for its stance on same-sex relationships, its human rights record and its treatment of migrant workers.The tournament starts on 20 November.

The letter urges that football should not be “dragged” into ideological or political “battles” and it should not be “handing out moral lessons”.

Peaceful protests have been planned by some players.England’s Harry Kane and nine other captains of European teams will be wearing ‘One Love’ armbands.

Denmark will wear “toned-down” shirts to protest against Qatar, with kit provider Hummel saying it “does not wish to be visible” in a tournament it claims “has cost thousands of lives”.

Australia’s squad have released a video urging Qatar to abolish its laws on same-sex relationships.Paris, and other French cities, are refusing to screen matches in public areas, despite France being the defending champions.The letter, signed by Fifa president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura and seen by the BBC, reads: “We know football does not live in a vacuum and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world.

“But please do not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.

It adds: “At Fifa, we try to respect all opinions and beliefs, without handing out moral lessons to the rest of the world. No one people or culture or nation is “better” than any other. This principle is the very foundation stone of mutual respect and non-discrimination.

“And this is also one of the core values of football. So, please let’s all remember that and let football take centre stage.

“We have the unique occasion and opportunity to welcome and embrace everyone, regardless of origin, background, religion, gender, sexual orientation or nationality.”

MPs call on Southgate and Kane to act over Iran

The England team has been asked to consider making a “display or gesture of solidarity with Iranian women fighting for their civil liberties” when the two countries meet in their opening match at the World Cup on 21 November.

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokesperson, has written to coach Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane telling them such a move would be “hugely meaningful in raising awareness about the Iranian government’s condemnable actions”.

In a letter also signed by Lib Dems sport spokesman Jamie Stone and seen by the BBC, it states that such an action would also “likely be seen by those who are putting their lives on the line in protest, which could be invaluable”. Protests and unrest in Iran have been sparked by the death on 16 September of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who fell into a coma after being arrested by morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating Iran’s strict rules requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab, or headscarf.There were reports that officers beat her head with a baton. The police said she suffered a heart attack.Iranian football and sports personalities and human rights group Open Stadiums have previously requested that Fifa ban the Iranian national team.The BBC has contacted the Football Association for comment.

We try to help as much as we can – Henderson

Speaking this week, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said it was “not fair” to expect players to make political statements or protests at the tournament. England midfielder Jordan Henderson said “A lot gets put on players on ‘should the World Cup be played there?’ and everything that goes with that, but the players don’t decide where the World Cup is played.

“Fifa decides that and that is a question for them to answer. For us as players we just play football and try to have a voice in certain ways to help as much as we can.”

He added: “We do little things like that to try and show people we are all one, we are all inclusive and that is why that campaign [Kane’s armband] was brought to light.

“If you do the right things, that is most important. Unless everyone is just not going to turn up, then no matter what people say it is never going to be enough.”

England’s Beth Mead said on Thursday it is “disappointing” the tournament is being held in Qatar. Mead, who is openly gay, does not think the Gulf state is the “right place” for the tournament to be staged.

A controversial build-up

Other off-the-field issues include Russia being banned by Fifa after the country’s invasion of Ukraine. In addition, the Ukrainian FA has called for Iran to be banned from the World Cup for “systematic human rights violations”. It believes a crackdown on protests in the country “may violate the principles and norms” of Fifa.

The World Cup has been moved to the northern hemisphere winter for the first time in its 92-year history. Qatar initially proposed to host the finals during the summer in air-conditioned enclosed stadiums, but the plan was rejected.

Qatar’s World Cup organisers state “everyone is welcome” to visit the country to watch the football, and that no-one will be discriminated against.Seven new stadiums have been built for the event, as well as an airport, roads and about 100 hotels. Qatar’s government says 30,000 foreign labourers have been hired just to build the stadiums, with most coming from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and the Philippines.Human rights groups have complained about the treatment of foreign labourers in Qatar, and the number who have died there.

In February 2021, the Guardian said 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar since it won its World Cup bid in 2010.The number is based on figures provided by the countries’ embassies in Qatar.However, the Qatar government said the total was misleading, because not all the deaths recorded were of people working on World Cup-related projects.The government said its accident records showed that between 2014 and 2020, there were 37 deaths among labourers at World Cup stadium construction sites, only three of which were “work-related”.

BBC Arabic has gathered evidence which suggests Qatar’s government has under-reported deaths among foreign labourers.England’s Football Association has backed calls for compensation to be awarded for “any injury or death related to any construction project” for the World Cup.

Yasmine Ahmed, UK director of Human Rights Watch, called the Fifa letter “nothing short of appalling”, while Amnesty International’s Felix Jakens told BBC Radio 5 Live: “There’s never been a right time to talk about human rights issues in Qatar as far as they [Fifa] are concerned.

“Now is the time to apply pressure on these issues. Once the World Cup rolls out of town, are we still going to be having conversations about Qatar? I don’t think we are.”

(BBC Sports)



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Second Sri Lanka – Afghanistan ODI called off

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By Rex Clementine

Heavy rain forced match officials to call off the second One-Day International between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan at the Pallekele International Stadium on Sunday.Set a target of 229 runs to win, Sri Lanka had reached 10 for no loss in 1.4 overs when rains came down forcing the players indoors.

Rain didn’t stop and at 8:57pm local time play was called off. SLC said in a statement that the ground staff needed more than one hour to clear the covers due to the amount of water collected on the covers and weren’t able to start by 9:56 pm, the latest cut-off time.

Afghanistan lead the three-match series 1-0 having won the opening fixture on Friday by 60 runs.

The series is part of the World Cup Super League and the no result meant that both teams collected five points each. That means, Afghanistan are edging closer to automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup. They are at seventh in the table currently. Sri Lanka are in the danger zone placed at tenth position. Only eight teams earn automatic qualification for the sport’s showpiece event.

Afghanistan opted to bat first after winning the toss and half-centuries by Rahmanullah Gurbaz (68) and Rahmat Shah (58) helped them to post 228 all out in  48.2 overs. Mohammad Nabi chipped in with 41 off 34 balls with two fours and two sixes.

Sri Lanka’s bowling was wayward to start with, but they bounced back well claiming the last five wickets for 33 runs.Seamer Kasun Rajitha finished with career best bowling figures as he claimed three wickets for 31 runs in his nine overs, which included two maidens.

Maheesh Theekshana and Lahiru Kumara chipped in with two wickets each as Sri Lanka bowled out Afghanistan.The game was being played on the same surface as Friday’s game and there was quite a bit of purchase for the spinners and Sri Lanka would have faced a tough challenge during the run chase.

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Gayana, Charuka, Anjala excel

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Under 19 Cricket

by Reemus Fernando

A remarkable match saving effort by Gayana Weerasinghe for Maliyadeva and a match bag of ten wickets by Charuka Peiris to guide S. Thomas’ to their third outright victory of the season were among the highlights of the Under 19 traditional matches played over the weekend.

Weerasinghe stood out scoring unbeaten knocks in both innings to avoid defeat in the match against Royal. In reply to Royal’s 302 for seven wickets declared, Maliyadeva collapsed but Weerasinghe scored an unbeaten century (135 in 204 balls, 18x4s) to defy the home team at Reid Avenue. Following on, he was joined by Jayamin Muthukumarana (25), Chandupa Abeysinghe (24) and Amesh Tennakoone (40) to force a draw. In the second innings, Weerasinghe batted for 134 minutes and remained unbeaten on 61 runs (in 122 balls, 4x4s).

Peiris completed a match bag of ten wickets with a six wicket haul in the second innings as S. Thomas’ cruised to victory with a session remaining in the match. S. Thomas’ posted 289 runs in reply to Mahinda’s 101 runs and in their second essay the visitors were bowled out for 174 runs.

It was S. Thomas’ third outright victory of the season. In the match between St. Servatius’ and Mahamana the latter earned first innings honours as Anjala Bandara scored 126 runs for them to post 241 runs in reply to St. Servatius’ 126 runs.

Results

On Sunday

St. Servatius’, Mahanama ends in draw

St. Servatius’ 126 all out in 42.3 overs (Kushan Wijerama 23, Chathum Bimsara 23, Thisan Dewmith 21n.o.; Duvindu Ranatunga 3/23, Dasith Gunathilake 3/36, Venuk Hettiarachchi 2/24, Omesh Udara 2/28) and 147 for 4 in 42 overs (Chamarindu Nethsara 41n.o., Mithila Charles 29, Denuwan Pramod 26, Diniru Sanushka 21, Vishwa Supun 21n.o.; Dasith Gunathilake 2/49).

Mahanama 241 all out in 72.3 overs (Anjala Bandara 126, Duvindu Ranatunga 36, Omesh Udara 35; Tharush Damindu 4/48, Thisan Dewmith 4/66)

On Saturday

St. Thomas’ beat Mahinda by an innings and 14 runs at Mount Lavinia

Scores:

Mahinda 101 all out in 30.1 overs (Dhanuja Induwara 53; Nathan Caldera 5/27, Charuka Peiris 4/21) and 174 all out in 46 overs (Hiruna Gallege 40, Dinura Kalupahana 36, Chandupa de Silva 20, Shenuka Dangamuwa 29; Charuka Peiris 6/66, Akash Fernando 2/33, Nathan Caldera 2/32)

S. Thomas’ 289 all out in 69 overs (Thisen Eheliyagoda 40, Romesh Mendis 117, Senesh Hettiarachchi 72; Tharusha Dilshan 5/71, Sanuka Dangamuwa 3/51)

Maliyadeva force a draw after Royal enforce follow on at Reid Avenue

Scores:

Royal 302 for 7 decl. in 77.2 overs (Ramiru Perera 85, Uvindu Weerasekara 60, Dasis Manchanayake 100n.o., Bulan Weeratunga 33; Gayana Weerasinghe 4/76, Charuka Herath 2/80)

Maliyadeva (52 for 3) 201 all out in 63.4 overs (Jayamin Muthukumarana 18, Chandupa Abeysinghe 17, Gayana Weerasinghe 135n.o.; Sandesh Ramanayake 2/60, Dasis Munchanayake 4/33) and 198 for 5 in 66 overs (Jayamin Muthukumarana 25, Chandupa Abeysinghe 24, Amesh Tennakoone 40, Chamod Sathsara 17, Gayana Weerasinghe 61n.o.; Menaka Heyyanthuduwa 2/28).

Dharmasoka and Nalanda settle for draw at Campbell Park

Scores:

Nalanda 105 all out in 34.4 overs (Rusiru Vilochana 22, Kushmitha Silva 23; Pathum Malitha 2/19, Senitha Halambage 5/17) and 309 for 9 in 90.5 overs (Rusiru Vilochana 65, Kushmitha Silva 80, Eranga jayakody 90, Sajitha Vithanage 38, Sathmina Serasinghe 17n.o.; Chanaka Jananga 4/59, Senitha Halambage 4/100)

Dharmasoka (210 for 6) 238 all out in 78.5 overs (Manasa de Silva 39, Senitha Halambage 97, Chandupa Kavisha 27; Chanul Athukorale 2/43, Minod Caldera 3/71, Janula Indusara 3/12)

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Trinity, St. Anthony’s clash for final spot  

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Under 19 Division I Tier ‘A’ Cricket  

Arch rivals Trinity and St. Anthony’s Katugastota will clash in Colombo today to secure a final berth in the Under 19 Division I Tier ‘A’ tournament. Both teams have seen some of the leading teams in their respective groups in the first round being eliminated in the knockout stage and will be eager to last the full distance to earn the coveted title.

St. Anthony’s captained by Lahiru Abesinghe were able to eliminate one of the favourites to the title, Mahanama in their quarter-final match thanks largely to the heroics of their top order batsman Mohamed Aaqil. With the rest of the batting line up failing to impress, Aaqil scored a dogged knock of 80 runs to secure their semi-final berth. The team inclusive of a couple of Sri Lanka Under 19 players will be looking forward to avoid the mistakes in that department in the crucial encounter.

St. Anthony’s were the fourth placed team in Group ‘Y’ after they ended up with a card of just four victories and four defeats during the first round. St. Sebastian’s and Maliyadeva, who finished second and third respectively in their group, were eliminated early in the knockout stage. In the event of St. Anthony’s advancing to the final they will be meeting Richmond, the champions of their group in the first round.

Trinity skippered by Rahal Amarasinghe eliminated St. Sebastian’s in the quarter-final after advancing to that stage with a third place finish in their group in the first round. During the first round they recorded five victories in eight outings.  Trinity have a number of players who were part of the Under 17 team adjudged the joint champions of the Under 17 tournament with St. Joseph’s. The experience of playing in that final where the scores were tied is likely to stand in good stead.

Teams:  

Trinity (from):  Rahal Amarasinghe (Captain), Vibhavith Ehelepola (Vice Captain), Theeraka Ranatunga, Supun Waduge, Manula Kularatne, Tharana Wimaladharma, Kusal Wijethunga, Dinusha Pieris, Dinuka Tennakoon, Jayavi Liyanagama, Janith Warnakula, Malith Rathnayake, Lakvin Abeysinghe, Vathila Udara, Yewan Hulangamuwa, Viduka Dhammage. 

Officials:

Naveen Ekanayake (Head Coach),  Lakshitha Alahakoon (Asst. Coach), Bryan Senaratne (Master in Charge). 

 St. Anthony’s (from):  Lahiru Abesinghe  (Captain), Travin Mathew (Vice Captain), Mohommed Aaqil, K.S. Bandara, Thisara Ekanayake, Ravindu Kapukotuwa, Ryan Anthonys, Induwara Galapitage, Kaveesha Piyumal, Janith Rathnasiri, Charuka Ekanayake, Kevan Fernando, Januka. Rathnayake, Dasun Welanga, Ravindu Kasthuriarachchi, Nik Fonseka, Senura Abesekara, Dinura Ganegoda, Kaushika Kumarasinghe, Sanuka Kalpana. 

Officials:

Suneth Gunathilake (Head Coach), Priyantha Kumara (Asst. Coach), Lenin Jayasinghe (Master in Charge). 

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