Tennis: Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur Falls in Guadalajara

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur plays a forehand return against Italy's Martina Trevisan during the WTA Guadalajara Open women's singles round of 16 tennis match in Zapopan, Mexico, September 20, 2023. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP)
Tunisia's Ons Jabeur plays a forehand return against Italy's Martina Trevisan during the WTA Guadalajara Open women's singles round of 16 tennis match in Zapopan, Mexico, September 20, 2023. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP)
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Tennis: Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur Falls in Guadalajara

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur plays a forehand return against Italy's Martina Trevisan during the WTA Guadalajara Open women's singles round of 16 tennis match in Zapopan, Mexico, September 20, 2023. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP)
Tunisia's Ons Jabeur plays a forehand return against Italy's Martina Trevisan during the WTA Guadalajara Open women's singles round of 16 tennis match in Zapopan, Mexico, September 20, 2023. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP)

Italy's Martina Trevisan pulled off a stunning comeback to defeat top-seeded Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-3 on Wednesday in the third round of the Guadalajara (Mexico) Open Akron.

With Jabeur up a set and serving for the match at 5-4 in the second, she went ahead 30-0 before Trevisan began her rally. Trevisan won the next four points to break serve, then won the next two games to force a third set.

Trevisan recorded two of the three service breaks in the final set to advance to her second quarterfinal in a WTA 1000 event this year. She also reached the quarters at Miami in March.

In earlier matches on Wednesday, Americans Sofia Kenin and Caroline Dolehide pulled off upsets.

Kenin ousted Latvian sixth seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-4, 7-5 by saving four of five break points while Ostapenko committed seven double faults. Dolehide completed a 6-1, 6-2 sweep of No. 8 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia with the help of three aces.

Three other Americans were in action on Wednesday, but all three fell. French third seed Carolina Garcia downed Hailey Baptiste 7-5, 6-4, Canadian Leylah Fernandez breezed by Emma Navarro 6-2, 6-3, and Emiliana Arango of Colombia defeated Taylor Townsend 7-5, 1-6, 6-4.

In other action, second-seeded Greek Maria Sakkari bested Italy's Camila Giorgi 6-2, 6-2, and 10th-seeded Belarusian Victoria Azarenka crushed seventh-seeded Veronika Kudermetova of Russia 6-2, 6-1.



US, Mexico Submit Bid to Co-host 2027 Women's World Cup

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Final - Spain v England - Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia - August 20, 2023 General view of World Cup trophy on display before the match REUTERS/Hannah Mckay/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Final - Spain v England - Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia - August 20, 2023 General view of World Cup trophy on display before the match REUTERS/Hannah Mckay/File Photo
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US, Mexico Submit Bid to Co-host 2027 Women's World Cup

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Final - Spain v England - Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia - August 20, 2023 General view of World Cup trophy on display before the match REUTERS/Hannah Mckay/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Final - Spain v England - Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia - August 20, 2023 General view of World Cup trophy on display before the match REUTERS/Hannah Mckay/File Photo

The United States and Mexico submitted a joint bid on Friday to co-host the 2027 women's World Cup that, if successful, would see the North American neighbors stage global soccer's two showcase events in back-to-back years.
Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands earlier on Friday put in a joint bid to be the 2027 hosts, while Brazil put forward their bid to world soccer governing body FIFA last month.
According to Reuters, US Soccer said in a statement that bringing the women's World Cup to North America would capitalize on a moment of extraordinary growth in women’s sports to deliver a tournament of unprecedented success.
The United States and Mexico, along with Canada, are set to co-host the 2026 men's World Cup but rather than viewing that as negative US Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone described it as a huge plus.
"This is a pivotal time for women’s soccer," said Parlow Cone. "The US and Mexico are in a unique position to host a World Cup that will leverage the same venues, infrastructure, and protocols used for the Men’s World Cup just a year prior.
"This will not only unlock the economic potential of women’s soccer, it will send a message to young players around the world that there is no limit to what they can achieve."
Member associations had until Friday to submit their bids to FIFA. South Africa had also submitted a bid but withdrew last month, saying they felt it was better to present a "well-prepared bid" for the 2031 edition.
"Extensive and detailed consultations between the three federations along with key stakeholders including central governments dates back to 2021," the Dutch football federation (KNVB) said in a statement accompanying the European nations' bid.
"This has led to alignment around the belief that our three countries are well placed to stage a FIFA Women's World Cup 2027 of unparalleled quality and impact."
FIFA will organize on-site inspection visits to bidding countries in February before the hosts are appointed in May by the FIFA Congress.

The 2023 tournament was co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand this year, with Spain beating England in the final.


Gala Ceremony for Best FIFA Football Awards to be Held in London in January

FILED - 29 March 2023, Brazil, Rio de Janeiro: Visitors watch the FIFA Women's World Cup trophy during a tour to promote the women's tournament. Photo: Joao Gabriel Alves/dpa
FILED - 29 March 2023, Brazil, Rio de Janeiro: Visitors watch the FIFA Women's World Cup trophy during a tour to promote the women's tournament. Photo: Joao Gabriel Alves/dpa
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Gala Ceremony for Best FIFA Football Awards to be Held in London in January

FILED - 29 March 2023, Brazil, Rio de Janeiro: Visitors watch the FIFA Women's World Cup trophy during a tour to promote the women's tournament. Photo: Joao Gabriel Alves/dpa
FILED - 29 March 2023, Brazil, Rio de Janeiro: Visitors watch the FIFA Women's World Cup trophy during a tour to promote the women's tournament. Photo: Joao Gabriel Alves/dpa

The Best FIFA Football Awards will be staged in London in January, world soccer's governing body said Friday.
The gala event, which will see the likes of Lionel Messi, Erling Haaland, Pep Guardiola, Aitana Bonmati and Emma Hayes in contention for big prizes, will be held on Jan. 15.
It is the eighth edition of the awards, which celebrates the “planet’s top players, coaches, fans, goals, and acts of fair play.” It is the third time it has been hosted in London, following previous ceremonies in 2016 and 2017.
FIFA did not say which venue had been chosen for the ceremony.
Eight awards are voted for by coaches, captains, journalists and fans. They include the best men's and women's player, coach and goalkeeper.
Among other awards is the Puskas Award for the best goal of the year.
Messi was named the best men's player in 2022 and Alexia Putellas won the women's award.
Argentina's World Cup winning coach Lionel Scaloni and England's European Championship winning coach Sarina Wiegman won the awards for their respective coaching categories.
Women's World Cup stars Bonmati, Linda Caicedo and Lauren James are among the nominees for the women's player award this year.
Messi, Haaland and Kylian Mbappe are among the names up for the men's award.
Guardiola is up for the best men's coach award after winning the treble last year with Manchester City. New US women's coach Emma Hayes is among a strong field in the women's category, with Wiegman and Barcelona's Champions League-winning coach Jonatan Giraldez among the nominees.


Saudi Sports Minister: 2034 World Cup Could be Hosted in Summer or Winter

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal is seen at an event with Saudi athletes. Asharq Al-Awsat
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal is seen at an event with Saudi athletes. Asharq Al-Awsat
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Saudi Sports Minister: 2034 World Cup Could be Hosted in Summer or Winter

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal is seen at an event with Saudi athletes. Asharq Al-Awsat
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal is seen at an event with Saudi athletes. Asharq Al-Awsat

Saudi Arabia is looking into the possibility of hosting the 2034 men's World Cup during the traditional months of June-July, according to the Kingdom's Sports Minister.

In an interview, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal told British broadcaster BBC that either a summer or winter tournament was possible.

“Definitely we are studying both options to see what is the best option to host the World Cup,” the Minister said in an interview in Jeddah published Friday.

“Why not see what the possibilities are to do it in the summer?” Prince Abdulaziz said.

The Qatar World Cup was the first to be played in November-December.

The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) announced last month that Saudi Arabia is the only country that has filed a bid to host the 2034 World Cup.

While Saudi Arabia getting the 2034 tournament is now seen as a formality across global soccer, the final decision must be rubber-stamped at a meeting of the 211 FIFA member federations late next year.

Saudi Arabia was already building some stadiums to host the 2027 Asian Cup and FIFA has asked for 14 stadiums to host the World Cup.


IOC: Russian, Belarusian Athletes to Participate at Paris Olympics as Neutrals

FILE - The Olympic rings are seen in front of the Paris City Hall, in Paris, on April 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard, File)
FILE - The Olympic rings are seen in front of the Paris City Hall, in Paris, on April 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard, File)
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IOC: Russian, Belarusian Athletes to Participate at Paris Olympics as Neutrals

FILE - The Olympic rings are seen in front of the Paris City Hall, in Paris, on April 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard, File)
FILE - The Olympic rings are seen in front of the Paris City Hall, in Paris, on April 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard, File)

Russian and Belarusian athletes who qualify in their sport for the Paris 2024 Olympics can take part as neutrals without flags, emblems or anthems at the event next year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Friday.

The athletes had initially been banned from competing internationally following Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year, but have since been gradually allowed back as neutral athletes in most sports.

"The Executive Board (EB) of the IOC has decided that Individual Neutral Athletes (AINs) who have qualified through the existing qualification systems of the International Federations (IFs) on the field of play will be declared eligible to compete at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 in accordance with the conditions outlined below," the Olympic body said in a statement.
"Individual Neutral Athletes are athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport."
The neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus will only compete in individual sports and no teams for the two countries will be allowed to participate in Paris.
The IOC also said athletes who actively support the war in Ukraine will not be eligible while any support personnel who do so will also not be entered.
It said out of 4,600 athletes qualified for the Paris Games so far, eight were Russians and three were Belarusian.


Sports Fans Flock to Club World Cup 2023 Promotional Events in Jeddah

Screens under the slogan "Welcome, Fans!" have emerged to greet football enthusiasts supporting the participating clubs. SPA
Screens under the slogan "Welcome, Fans!" have emerged to greet football enthusiasts supporting the participating clubs. SPA
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Sports Fans Flock to Club World Cup 2023 Promotional Events in Jeddah

Screens under the slogan "Welcome, Fans!" have emerged to greet football enthusiasts supporting the participating clubs. SPA
Screens under the slogan "Welcome, Fans!" have emerged to greet football enthusiasts supporting the participating clubs. SPA

Sports and football fans are gathering at the Jeddah Corniche to participate in promotional events for the 2023 Club World Cup, which will be hosted in the Saudi governorate from December 12 to 22.

The Corniche is hosting a range of interactive sports activities, including filming the original cup for the tournament, which will be held in the stadiums of King Abdullah Sports City and Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal City with the participation of seven international clubs.

Sports and entertainment activities on the Jeddah Corniche offer the chance to meet sports talents and football stars and learn about the tournament's history. The original cup will be on display, and a range of interactive activities will allow visitors to engage in sports experiences.

Seven clubs will participate in the 20th edition of the Club World Cup 2023, hosted by the Kingdom. These include the clubs that have won the highest-ranked tournaments in the continental federations and the host country's representative.

The participating clubs are Al-Ittihad Club of Saudi Arabia, Manchester City of England, Urawa Reds of Japan, Egypt’s Al-Ahly, Auckland City of New Zealand, Mexico’s Club Leon, and Fluminense of Brazil.


US Figure Skater Ilia Malinin Lands Quad Axel to Take Lead at Grand Prix Finals in Beijing

 USA's Ilia Malinin competes in the men short program during the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Beijing on December 7, 2023. (AFP)
USA's Ilia Malinin competes in the men short program during the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Beijing on December 7, 2023. (AFP)
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US Figure Skater Ilia Malinin Lands Quad Axel to Take Lead at Grand Prix Finals in Beijing

 USA's Ilia Malinin competes in the men short program during the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Beijing on December 7, 2023. (AFP)
USA's Ilia Malinin competes in the men short program during the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Beijing on December 7, 2023. (AFP)

Ilia Malinin had no intention of trying to land the quadruple axel, the most difficult jump in figure skating, while the 19-year-old American sensation was trying to qualify for the Grand Prix Finals.

Once he took the ice Thursday for the marquee conclusion to the Grand Prix season, all bets were off.

Not only did Malinin cleanly land the four-and-a-half revolution jump, which had never been done in a short program, the first skater to land it in competition last year kept piling up points. He added a quad lutz-triple toe loop combination along with a clean triple axel to post a score of 106.90 points, the best total of his international career.

“After Grand Prix France, it was an idea of mine for a long time — I mean, since the start of the season,” said Malinin, who earned the bronze medal at the Grand Prix Finals last year. “I think that at Skate America, without the triple axel getting those points, it really helped me set the base for my motivation and my confidence to try to include it.”

That jump, which initially wasn't recognized by computerized scoring because it had never been attempted in a short program, proved to be the difference in taking the lead into the free skate. Malinin edged two-time world champion Shoma Uno, who had 106.02 points after landing two quads of his own, and Yuma Kagiyama of Japan, who scored 103.72.

There were once again no Russian skaters at the Grand Prix Final, held at the National Indoor Stadium in Beijing, because of its ongoing war with Ukraine. They have not competed in international competition since after the 2022 Winter Olympics.

As pleased as Malinin was with his short program, set to “Malagueña” by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, the reigning US champion thought there was room to improve. That's despite getting 3.04 points for grade-of-execution on the quad axel, one of the best marks he's scored for the jump, which he had only previously done in his free skate.

“It wasn't one of the best programs that I've done,” said Malinin, who will try to hold off Japan's Uno and Kagiyama when the free skate takes place Saturday. “I'm just really glad that I was able to pull it together under pressure and stay on my feet.”

Kao Miura of Japan was fourth followed by Kevin Aymoz and Adam Siao Him Fa of France.

In the pairs competition, Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin of Germany scored 72.56 points in their short program to take the lead over the Canadian favorites Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps, who scored 71.22 points. Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii, the reigning bronze medalists, were once again third for Italy with 70.30.

Volodin had been ill recently and the pair nearly withdrew from the Grand Prix Final.

More than perhaps any other discipline, the pairs competition is wide open this season. Defending champions Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan withdrew from the entire Grand Prix season because of his back injury, and American silver medalists Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier took the season off while they contemplated retirement.

Maria Pavlova and Alexei Sviatchenko of Hungary were fourth, Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini of Italy were in fifth and Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud of Canada were in sixth following their short programs.

The pairs competition concludes Friday with the free skate. The women begin their competition with short programs while the ice dance competition begins with the rhythm dance.


Suarez Fires Farewell Double to End Brazilian Adventure

Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring the second of two goals in his farewell appearance for Gremio in a 3-2 win over Fluminense at the Maracana Stadium. MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring the second of two goals in his farewell appearance for Gremio in a 3-2 win over Fluminense at the Maracana Stadium. MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP
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Suarez Fires Farewell Double to End Brazilian Adventure

Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring the second of two goals in his farewell appearance for Gremio in a 3-2 win over Fluminense at the Maracana Stadium. MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring the second of two goals in his farewell appearance for Gremio in a 3-2 win over Fluminense at the Maracana Stadium. MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP

Luis Suarez scored twice in his farewell match for Gremio as the Brazilian side defeated Fluminense 3-2 at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday.
The 36-year-old Uruguayan football icon, who has been linked with a move to join close friend Lionel Messi at Inter Miami, scored in the 43rd minute and then bagged a second with a cheeky panenka from the penalty spot in the 64th minute, AFP said.
The victory ensured Gremio finished second in the Brazilian championship, two points behind champions Palmeiras as the season drew to a close on Wednesday.
It marked a fitting finale to what has been a dazzling season in Brazilian football for Suarez, who cut short his two-year deal with Gremio after one season saying the calendar was too much for his aging body.
Leading Gremio as captain, Suarez played in 54 of the club's 64 matches in 2023, scoring a total of 29 goals.
He ended the year as the second-highest goal scorer in the Brazilian league, with 17, inspiring down-on-its-luck Gremio to an unexpectedly solid season.
Suarez has declined to comment on rumors linking him to a move to join former Barcelona team-mate Messi in Miami, saying he wants to focus first and foremost on his family and his health.
"I love this job, but it's hard waking up in pain every morning," he said last weekend. "I'm hard-headed and I want to keep playing, but I don't know what comes next."
Those comments came after he scored the lone goal in Gremio's win over Vasco in his final home match, earning an emotional standing ovation from the sold-out crowd.
His stint at Gremio could have been a lame swan song, coming after a return to his boyhood club, Nacional, last year, and tearful exit with Uruguay in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup.
Instead, Suarez shone in the club's first season back in top-flight play after a painful relegation, helping them to the Rio Grande do Sul state championship and state winners' cup titles -- the latter courtesy of a Suarez hat trick.
Porto Alegre soon caught "Suarezmania:" the striker was named an honorary citizen, and the state government gave him a medal.
Attendance at Gremio's stadium meanwhile doubled, and the club registered record sales of jerseys and other paraphernalia.
'Hard to say "basta"'
Fans and local politicians tried to talk Suarez out of his decision to leave after he announced his plans in July.
Making his departure more difficult, Gremio's strong showing this season means they have qualified for the Copa Libertadores next year, the South American equivalent of Europe's Champions League.
"I would have loved to play in that competition. But my body is calling the shots," Suarez said.
"I need rest, recreation and time to think. It's hard to say 'basta' (enough). Footballers are never ready for retirement."


UK Apologizes to Families of 97 Liverpool Football Fans Killed in Stadium Crush 34 Years Ago

Players observe a minute's silence to remember the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 9, 2023. (AFP)
Players observe a minute's silence to remember the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 9, 2023. (AFP)
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UK Apologizes to Families of 97 Liverpool Football Fans Killed in Stadium Crush 34 Years Ago

Players observe a minute's silence to remember the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 9, 2023. (AFP)
Players observe a minute's silence to remember the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 9, 2023. (AFP)

The British government apologized Wednesday to the families of 97 Liverpool soccer fans who died after a stadium crush 34 years ago, as it introduced a charter it said will sharply diminish the chances that others will endure the kinds of injustices they suffered.

However, it refused to back calls from campaigners to legally require public bodies, including police, to tell the truth and proactively cooperate with official investigations and inquiries in cases of public disasters.

The so-called Hillsborough disaster happened on April 15, 1989. More than 2,000 Liverpool fans at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield were allowed to flood into a standing-room section behind a goal with the 54,000-capacity stadium already nearly full for a match against Nottingham Forest.

An original inquest recorded verdicts of accidental death, which the families of the victims refused to accept. Those verdicts were overturned in 2012 after a far-reaching inquiry into the disaster that examined previously secret documents and exposed wrongdoing and mistakes by police. In 2016, a jury found that the victims were "unlawfully killed."

The proposed "Hillsborough Law" would have incorporated a "duty of candor" on public authorities and officials in such cases.

Instead, a "Hillsborough Charter" would see public bodies pledge to tell the truth in the wake of public tragedies whatever the impact on their reputation. The government said it is not aware of any gaps in legislation that would further encourage a culture of candor among public bodies and their representatives.

The new charter comes six years after a report from James Jones, the former bishop of Liverpool, who was commissioned to learn the lessons of the disaster and a subsequent cover-up.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk issued an apology on behalf of the government for the way the families were treated over the decades and for the delay in its response to the report.

"It doesn’t provide closure for the families of course," Chalk said. "Grief is indeed a journey without a destination but today is a milestone on that journey."

Hooliganism was rife in English soccer throughout the 1980s, and there were immediate attempts to assign blame on the Liverpool fans and defend the policing operation. A false narrative that blamed drunken, ticketless and rowdy Liverpool fans was created by police, a narrative that was only turned around by the tireless campaign of the bereaved families.

Organizations that have already signed on to the "Hillsborough Charter" include the National Police Chiefs’ Council, College of Policing and Crown Prosecution Service.

"The Hillsborough families have suffered multiple injustices: The loss of 97 lives, the blaming of the fans and the unforgiveable institutional defensiveness by public bodies," Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said. "I am profoundly sorry for what they have been through."


Ronaldo Rested as Al Nassr Top Asian Champions League Group

Al-Nassr's Portuguese forward #07 Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the AFC Champions League group E football match between Saudi Al-Nassr SC and Tajikistan's FC Istiklol at King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh on October 2, 2023. (AFP)
Al-Nassr's Portuguese forward #07 Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the AFC Champions League group E football match between Saudi Al-Nassr SC and Tajikistan's FC Istiklol at King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh on October 2, 2023. (AFP)
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Ronaldo Rested as Al Nassr Top Asian Champions League Group

Al-Nassr's Portuguese forward #07 Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the AFC Champions League group E football match between Saudi Al-Nassr SC and Tajikistan's FC Istiklol at King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh on October 2, 2023. (AFP)
Al-Nassr's Portuguese forward #07 Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the AFC Champions League group E football match between Saudi Al-Nassr SC and Tajikistan's FC Istiklol at King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh on October 2, 2023. (AFP)

Al Nassr rested Cristiano Ronaldo and started the majority of their foreign contingent on the bench as they concluded the Asian Champions League group campaign with a 1-1 draw away to Istiklol on Tuesday night.

With progress secured with one matchday to spare, Nassr manager Luis Castro chose to leave Ronaldo out of the squad for the match in Dushanbe, while he named among his substitutes the likes of Sadio Mane, Aymeric Laporte, Otavio and Anderson Talisca.

Istiklol took the lead at the Pamir Stadium just after the half hour when midfielder Alisher Dzhalilov fired a fine low shot into the bottom corner, AFP reported.

The hosts, yet to win in this season’s competition, were hoping for three points to lift them off the bottom of the group.

However, Abdulrahman Ghareeb levelled five minutes into the second half, the Nassr winger converting a close-range volley at the second time of asking following an initial stop from Istiklol goalkeeper Rustam Yatimov.

Castro did send for Talisca, Nassr’s second-top scorer this season behind Ronaldo, in the 74th minute, and Ivory Coast midfielder Seko Fofana and Portugal winger Otavio late on but the visitors could not snatch the win.

Nassr ended the group stage unbeaten, with four victories and two draws.


Messi Named Time's 'Athlete of The Year'

Argentina's forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his team's first goal - his 100th with the national team - during the friendly football match between Argentina and Curacao at the Madre de Ciudades stadium in Santiago del Estero, in northern Argentina, on March 28, 2023. (AFP)
Argentina's forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his team's first goal - his 100th with the national team - during the friendly football match between Argentina and Curacao at the Madre de Ciudades stadium in Santiago del Estero, in northern Argentina, on March 28, 2023. (AFP)
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Messi Named Time's 'Athlete of The Year'

Argentina's forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his team's first goal - his 100th with the national team - during the friendly football match between Argentina and Curacao at the Madre de Ciudades stadium in Santiago del Estero, in northern Argentina, on March 28, 2023. (AFP)
Argentina's forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his team's first goal - his 100th with the national team - during the friendly football match between Argentina and Curacao at the Madre de Ciudades stadium in Santiago del Estero, in northern Argentina, on March 28, 2023. (AFP)

Lionel Messi has been named Time magazine's "Athlete of the Year" for 2023 after a trailblazing season marked by an eighth Ballon d'Or award and his ground-breaking move to Major League Soccer's Inter Miami.

Time said the Argentine superstar had already had a transformative impact on the American sporting landscape, which has been historically slow to embrace football.

"Lionel Messi this year managed to do what once seemed impossible, when he signed with Inter Miami: turning the US into a soccer country," Time commented, AFP reported.

The 36-year-old Messi made his debut for Miami in July following an acrimonious departure from Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi was quoted by Time as saying that his first preference after PSG had been a fairytale return to Barcelona, but that move stalled over the club's finances.