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By the Gazette Editorial Board

T

HE image of the German astronaut in the cockpit of the International Space Station enjoying live transmission of the 2018 World Football Cup games is probably the strongest depiction so far of how this sporting activity has since its inception in the 60s of the 20th Century evolved into the world’s most-favoured and largest-spread sports. Today, the number of football fans across the world is widely estimated in the range of 3.5 billion, far exceeding the figure for any other sport. Of equal importance is the fact that football has concomitantly transitioned into a complex industry with a strong economy and a prospering, though at times risky, business – a quality that has indeed added much potentials, appeal, attraction and glamour to the game. Grace be to the magical ball which has drawn the love of billions of fans in the length and breadth of the world and has motivated huge numbers of young people to aspire for distinction in playing with it according to universally-regulated rules and for ascending to global stardom. 

And in its twin capacity as a sport and an industry, football has magnificently asserted itself as an area of innovativeness, performance improvement and regulation refinement. In the process, governments and societies of the world recognised how this sporting activity has an intrinsic capacity to disseminate such lofty human and social values as selflessness, co-operation, acting in team spirit and seeking distinction only through dedicated effort, fair play, sustained training and skill refinement. So, it has clearly been on the basis of such recognition that governments of the world have sought to extend as much material and moral support as they can to encourage the spread of this beautiful sport, building stadiums and playgrounds, recruiting coaches and trainers and sponsoring national teams in regional and international competitions.

As the German astronaut enjoyed the live streaming into space, the scene on the Earth was no less fantastic. Thirty two teams were there in Russia, contending for the World Cup Russia 2018, with President Vladimir Putin himself attending the opening game together with a host of world leaders and FIFA chief. Highlights of the matches played so far may be noticeably thrilling but are indeed indicative of the very nature of sports in general and football in particular. Though led by brilliant forward Lionel Messi, Argentina was overpowered by Iceland and Messi himself missed a penalty, the 2014 Cup holder Germany failed to win in the confrontation with Mexico, a Moroccan player who came on in the stoppage-time erroneously headed a ball into his own team’s net in added time, solely causing Morocco to lose out to Iran and the Brazil vs. Switzerland match ended in a 1-1 draw though the former is a team of eminent professionals playing with world-brand clubs.

As far as the Pharaohs are concerned, they, with the magnificent and strong show they delivered in their Group A opener with Uruguay, have justly won broad local and international acknowledgement as a team of serious players, steel defenders and skilled forward liners. Their chances of winning the match or at least scoring a point had remained high until the 89th minute Uruguayan surprise header scoring. They will be facing Russia today and whatever the result of the match will be, the Pharaohs will have established their credentials as a world-brand team which deservedly qualified for the World Cup Russia 2018 – all the more so with the Pharaohs grouping a number of internationally-renowned professional footballers, especially including Liverpool striker Mo Salah, Arsenal’s midfielder Mohamed Ninni, Huddersfield Town winger Ramdan Sobhi and Greek club PAOK midfielder Amr Wardah. It’s a real and momentous win.

 

 

BRUSSELS, June 12, 2018 (News Wires) - Belgium made light of injury to Eden Hazard in their last warm-up before the World Cup, the Chelsea star limping off in the 4-1 defeat of Costa Rica in Brussels.

Hazard was forced off in the 70th minute after an apparent knock to his right ankle as Belgium sparkled against their fellow finalists with a powerful brace from Romelu Lukaku.

While Red Devil fans will have looked on concerned Hazard’s teammates and manager dispelled fears of the injury having an impact on the 27-year-old Hazard’s World Cup.

“I’m not too worried about Eden, he’s a tough guy. He gets kicked all the time, but soon gets over it,” said Lukaku.

Dries Martens, who also got on the scoresheet, tapping in Hazard’s deflected shot, added: “Eden? We’ll see, he’s strong, I reckon he’ll be okay.”

And coach Roberto Martinez declared there was “nothing to worry about”.

“He’s very strong, he just had a dead leg towards the end of the match.”

“I really enjoyed his performance. He was sharp and strong, he was majestic,” he told reporters.

Hazard’s brother, Belgium teammate Thorgan, told Belgian newspaper SudPresse: “It was a little knock. He’ll be fine. I have to say sorry as it was on one of my passes that it happened.”

SudPresse reported that Hazard boarded a private jet to London after the match with Belkium due to fly to Russia tomorrow.

Martinez’s multi-talented side, missing injured defender Vincent Kompany, were just too much for Costa Rica, who opened brightly and even took the lead through Bryan Ruiz with a slick finish.

But Belgium, who beat Egypt 3-0 last week with a world-class Hazard pulling the strings, were 2-1 up by half-time thanks to finishes from Mertens and Lukaku.

The giant Manchester United target man got his second with a powerful header after running into space with great speed.

He then set up strike partner Michy Batshuayi for the fourth and the pair did a little dance to celebrate.

This will have proved unpleasant viewing for Belgium’s Group G rivals England, Tunisia and Panama, who they face in their opening game in Sochi next Monday.

 

MOSCOW, June 12, 2018 (News Wires) - Move over vuvuzela players. The musical instrument to master for this year's soccer World Cup is the Russian spoon.

Eight years after South Africans blared away on their plastic vuvuzela horns when they hosted the contest, Russians are hoping fans at the tournament it hosts starting on Thursday will celebrate by clacking their "lozhkas" - spoons that beat out an insistent, but quieter rhythm.

Folk musicians using the traditional instruments - two wooden spoons held back to back and struck by a third - have already become a feature at official receptions.

Less skilled supporters will be able to buy an adapted plastic pair, joined at the end for easier clicking.

Designer Rustam Nugmanov got government backing to produce a line of coloured and branded "Spoons of Victory" that have been recognised as the tournament's official instrument.

"When we were choosing an instrument which is typically Russian and which reflects Russian cultural values, we had a choice of three: a treshchotka (clapper), a shaker and a lozhka," he said.

They wanted instruments that could knock out a rhythm, without totally dominating the proceedings like the vuvuzelas did before them. They also wanted to avoid the shattering rattling produced by Brazil's "caxirola" percussion instruments at the championships four years ago.

"That (the caxirola) sounds like a beehive and is a very loud instrument and also does not allow you to clap a rhythm, said Nugmanov. "We have chosen spoons."

 

 

 

By Ramadan A. Kader

Egyptians have a special reason to celebrate this week’s edition of the World Cup in Russia. It marks the first time for the Pharaohs to appear in the global tournament in 28 years.

The event is riveting attention of local merchants as well. World Cup-themed products have already hit the market, obviously taking advantage of the super-interest in the event.

Local grocery stores are selling a miniature golden cup filled with lollipops for LE50 (2.8 dollars).The product, which generates good sales, is graced with images of soccer legends: Mohamed Salah, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, according to private newspaper Al-Watan. The cup also sells empty as a souvenir, for LE20.

“Will we wait for the national team to play and win in order to make us happy?” a trader named Amir said jokingly as he lifted the cup inside his shop in central Cairo. “It’s finished. We have already won and got the cup too!”

 

 By the Gazette Editorial Board

President Sisi's keenness on receiving all members of the Egyptian team and coaching staff that will compete in the 2018 Football World Cup which starts in Russia on Thursday is the latest and highest-level indication of the care given by the state to youth and sports activities. The timing of the President Sisi’s meeting with the team is quite significant as it took place with the 2018 World Cup only a few days away and the Pharaohs are readying to face Uruguay on Friday. Signaling to them the state’s profound support and estimation is indeed an important factor in encouraging the team to bolster their enthusiasm for producing such an honourable performance that would fulfill the hopes of their fans and re-asserts the competitiveness of Egyptian football players at all Arab, African, European and international levels.

 

While winning higher international recognition and medals is naturally a common objective of all nations that compete in world games, the range of state care and sponsorship points to the extent of interest in promoting sports activities as one of the areas for building a healthy society at both physical and moral levels. Needless to say, sporting and sports competitions constitute highly-influential areas where human societies can cultivate such desirable values as seriousness, fair play and dedication.

 

It was therefore a commendable move by some children magazines, especially including Al-Azhar’s Nour, and TV programmes to devote their cover stories and prime time content to the Pharaohs, especially including Mohamad Salah, bringing under focus his personality traits of seriousness in training and his firm resolve to keep advancing his professional performance. Nour’s editor has indicated in published statements that the magazine is keen on presenting Mo Salah as a model in motivating young people to achieve distinction.

 

Also reflecting the national attitude of lending all forms of support to the team representing Egypt in the world tournament is the decision by the national carrier EgyptAir to operate as many as 19 additional flights as of today and for four days to carry Egyptian fans to Russian cities. Preparations have also been actively under way to facilitate the travel arrangements and procedures for an estimated number of more than 3,500 Egyptian fans to Russian destinations where the national team will play matches with other Group 'A' contenders. There, the real fight will begin to bring joy and gratification to the millions of fans in Egypt and also to firmly establish the competitiveness and professional fineness of Egyptian football players.

CAIRO, June 10, 2018 (MENA) - Egypt's national soccer team headed on Sunday for Chechnya's capital Grozny en route to Russia to take part in the World Cup finals from June 14 to July 15.

About thirty-two teams are taking part in the World Cup.

The national team includes 23 players.

Meanwhile, EgyptAir decided to operate 19 additional flights from Sunday to Thursday to transfer Egyptian fans to Russia to support the national football team taking part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Up to 3,500 Egyptians are expected to fly to Russia Thursday on 10 flights to attend the opener of the national team against Uruguay, the national carrier said in a statement on Saturday.

All measures are taken to provide all necessary facilities, it added.

The Pharaohs have not reached the World Cup finals since 1990. 

Egypt's opening World Cup match takes place on June 15 against Uruguay, and they will face Russia on June 19. Their final Group A match will be against Saudi Arabia on June 24. 

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