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‘Visit Saudi’ sponsorship is tone-deaf ahead of Women’s World Cup



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The Women’s World Cup is nearing, and as is tradition, FIFA marked the occasion with controversy. Host countries Australia and New Zealand are urging the soccer federation to back out of its sponsorship with Visit Saudi. The main issue with the deal is Saudi Arabia’s ever-present, awful record of women’s rights violations.

A letter authored by representatives Chris Nikou of Australia and New Zealand’s Joanna Wood was sent to FIFA on Wednesday, voicing concerns about how such a sponsor could “severely tarnish the reputation” of the tournament.

“We write to express our serious disappointment and concern at the news of the apparent appointment of Visit Saudi as a sponsor.

“We cannot express strongly enough the potential repercussions and fallout that could result of this decision.

“Australia and New Zealand, both as sovereign nations and as football associations, have for decades placed the utmost importance on gender equality, and have sought to promote these ideals around the world.”

Incidentally, Visit Saudi also was a sponsor at the men’s World Cup late last year, and I guess we missed that with the flood of human rights stories that plagued host country Qatar. (While I do remember the Visit Qatar ads during that tournament, I would not be surprised if this is one of a number of gross stories that went overlooked or unreported.)

It’s nothing new for the Saudis to attempt to improve their reputation via sportswashing. They literally have half the world’s golfers on retainer for the divisive LIV Golf League. However, I’m not falling for the bullshit, and clearly neither are the Aussies or the Kiwis.

The USWNT is more or less deified in the states because of how good they are on and off the pitch, so don’t be surprised if any number of players speak out about this or a bunch of other shit that FIFA will inevitably screw up as we close in on the Women’s World Cup.

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Cricket Scotland: Four resign from anti-racism group due to frustrations with governing body’s tackling of racism | Cricket News



Four members of Cricket Scotland’s anti-racism and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) advisory group have resigned due to the organisation’s handling of tackling racism.

It follows last week’s update from Cricket Scotland chair Anjan Luthra, who said progress had been made by the governing body.

Those comments were criticised by anti-racism group Running Out Racism, which labelled Luthra’s claims as “unsubstantiated nonsense” and said the update from Cricket Scotland was “tone deaf” and “arrogant”.

Scotland international Abtaha Maqsood, Running Out Racism’s Raza Sadiq, businessman Imran Khan and academic Khadija Mohammed are those who have stepped down.

Funding body SportScotland is now holding “urgent discussions” with Cricket Scotland.

Last July, Sky Sports News revealed a damning review found that the governing body failed on almost all tests of institutional racism.

Majid Haq (left) and Qasim Sheikh (right) called for action to be taken after a review found that Cricket Scotland had failed on almost all tests of institutional racism

The full Cricket Scotland board stepped down prior to the publication of the independent report that found 448 instances of racism in the sport.

The anti-racism and EDI group was formed following recommendations from the report – in a bid to help create change alongside Luthra and interim chief executive Gordon Arthur, who has announced he will be leaving the organisation next month due to personal reasons.

A spokesperson for SportScotland – Scotland’s national agency for sport – said: “It is deeply disappointing that members of Cricket Scotland’s anti-racism and EDI advisory group have decided to resign their positions. However, we fully respect and understand their decision to do so.

“We have been consistently clear that only by engaging in real and meaningful consultation and engagement will cultural change be delivered within the sport. We are having urgent discussions with Cricket Scotland on this issue.”

‘Cricket Scotland claims are unsubstantiated nonsense’

Following the review conducted last July, Cricket Scotland was placed in ‘special measures’ by SportScotland.

As part of its six-month update, Cricket Scotland chair Luthra said last week that he expected the progress being made would lead to those measures being lifted.

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Cricket Scotland chair Anjan Luthra discusses why he took the role, the challenges he faces and his target to make Scotland ‘dream big’

Luthra said: “Our current trajectory means that we will exit special measures by October 31 and ensure Cricket Scotland continues its work towards becoming the most inclusive sport in the country over the long term.”

Luthra outlined significant progress made around Cricket Scotland’s approach to equality, diversity and inclusion, citing the new diversity working group as another step in the right direction.

However, anti-racism group Running Out Racism said Luthra’s statement “set back trust significantly” and “demonstrated that the governing body is failing in learning from mistakes of the past”.

Running Out Racism also revealed it has tried to raise concerns in private but is “sick of fighting for change in public with no results”.

The statement read: “The release by Cricket Scotland today has set back trust significantly and demonstrated that the governing body is failing in learning from the mistakes of the past.

“In order to address the issues in the sport, they must meaningfully engage with people. Not just Running Out Racism, but the wider cricketing community.

“Today’s release flies in the face of that. It is tone deaf and arrogant.

“To say they have significantly upgraded [their] approach to EDI is unsubstantiated nonsense. Unless that substantial upgrade is referring to ticking boxes as opposed to the previous strategy of ignoring the problem. They continue to ignore the very people who have been ignored for so long.

“To cite the EDI working group as an achievement is frankly embarrassing. At the first meeting in January, formed after five months of faffing around, some members of the group raised significant concerns around the intent of the governing body to meaningfully engage with people who have expertise in this area.

“Following that, the governing body put out a positive update, which was astounding to some who sat in that same meeting, and has subsequently ignored the group. None of today’s changes have made it to that group for consultation. A group that took five months to form and has only met once.”

08/05/14.MANNOFIELD.Majid Haq trains ahead of Cricket Scotland's upcoming clash with England.
Majid Haq played 54 one-day internationals and 21 T20 internationals for Scotland between 2006 and 2015

‘Cricket Scotland not fit for purpose’

The issues of institutional racism came to light following an interview on Sky Sports News with Scotland’s Majid Haq and team-mate Qasim Sheikh

The lawyer representing both players, Aamer Anwar, said last week: “Despite the horrific exposure of institutional racism, Cricket Scotland’s empty soundbites today shows that it remains unfit for purpose.

“Both Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh are sad to see the chief executive Gordon Arthur step down, he was a man who genuinely fought for change to take place.

“My clients, both Majid and Qasim, believe the chair has failed to deliver or inspire genuine confidence from across the sport, and they regard the process as little more than an ‘arrogant cosmetic box ticking exercise’.

“It’s time that Sport Scotland stepped in with special measures, the only winners today are institutional racism and the dinosaurs who now appear even more entrenched.”

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England captain Marlie Packer promises to continue Sarah Hunter’s Red Roses legacy | Rugby Union News



England host Italy at Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton on Sunday April 2 in Round 2 of the Women’s Six Nations; Scotland are in action next Saturday for the second round of the championship, hosting Wales at the Dam Health Stadium in Edinburgh

Last Updated: 27/03/23 11:10am

Marlie Packer insists she will continue the legacy set out by her long-time England team-mate Sarah Hunter

Marlie Packer insists she will continue the legacy set out by her long-time England team-mate Sarah Hunter

Marlie Packer has promised to continue Sarah Hunter’s England legacy following her retirement.

Hunter played the final match of her career on Saturday in England’s dominant 58-7 win over Scotland in the Women’s Six Nations and departed the pitch after 58 minutes to a great ovation from her team-mates, coaches and family in the stands.

She retires with 141 caps to her name, having made her Six Nations debut back in 2007, and leaves the sport at the age of 37 after a highly-decorated, 16-year career.

After Hunter left the field, Packer took over the role of sole captaincy, scoring a hat-trick of tries from England’s famous rolling maul in a player-of-the-match performance, and, following the game, she insisted her focus is now on continuing the legacy set out by her now former team-mate.

“It’s a whole new group of girls in this squad, we came together three weeks ago, and we took things back to basics,” Packer said.

“And what we talked about in these three weeks, we put that performance in on the pitch.

“Massive shout out to Sarah Hunter, 141 caps, she came out and put in a hell of a performance.

“But for me, I’m super proud of what they’ve achieved. We have a day off on Monday and then we’ll build again, we’ll come back into camp and we go again.

Hunter was held aloft by her team-mates following her final emotional game Hunter was held aloft by her team-mates following her final emotional game

Hunter was held aloft by her team-mates following her final emotional game

“It’s a really exciting time, it’s an exciting time for women’s sport, but for women’s rugby especially.

“I’m really privileged and proud to be a part of it and the legacy that Sarah Hunter has left behind, all of us want to keep going with what she’s done.”

Not only did Packer have praise for the impact Hunter has had on the sport of rugby union as a whole, but also on her own international career, which she has been a part of throughout.

Packer scored a quickfire hat-trick of tries against Scotland from England's rolling maul Packer scored a quickfire hat-trick of tries against Scotland from England's rolling maul

Packer scored a quickfire hat-trick of tries against Scotland from England’s rolling maul

“I’m going to miss her massively,” she added.

“She’s been in my whole rugby journey with England and she’s not just an amazing rugby player, but an amazing human.

“She put everyone else first before herself. This rose that she wears, credit to her, she puts that first all the time.”

England’s tournament continues as they host Italy at Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton on Sunday April 2 (3pm kick-off), in Round 2 of the Women’s Six Nations.


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LeBron James returns for season-ending push with Los Angeles Lakers after liaising with unnamed foot specialist | NBA News



LeBron James returned from a foot tendon injury to help the Los Angeles Lakers make a final push for the play-ins.

Although one doctor suggested “season-ending surgery”, the 38-year-old decided to finish the season on the court after getting a a third opinion from an unnamed foot specialist.

James returned to the Lakers on Sunday after a month-long absence with what he revealed was a significant tendon injury.

He wasn’t in the starting line-up for only the second time in his 20-year NBA career, but he still led the Lakers with 19 points in their 118-108 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

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Highlights of the Chicago Bulls against the Los Angeles Lakers in Week 23 of the NBA season

James also said his doctors told him that he was “healing faster than anybody they’ve seen before with the injury”.

One more factor contributed to his decision: James got a third opinion from an unnamed foot specialist.

“I went to the LeBron James of feet, and he told me I should [delay possible surgery],” James said, declining to name the doctor.

The NBA’s leading scorer hadn’t played since February 26, when he complained of right foot soreness after a win at Dallas.

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James was seen to clearly say he heard something pop when he injured his ankle in the third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks. He did however continue on with the game shortly after

James considered surgery after getting the sobering diagnosis, but his team-mates’ outstanding play down the stretch and his own inner determination contributed to his decision to keep playing.

“They go 8-5 and obviously had a chance to – the hell with the play-in, we actually can be a top-eight seed,” James said. “It definitely changed my mindset on me coming back and trying to be a part of this”.

“Well, I don’t even want to say [it] changed my mindset. It just enhanced what I was trying to do as far as my workouts, as far as my treatment and everything”.

“They played such great basketball. I was just ecstatic, from me being in a boot to me getting out of the boot, you guys saw me on the sideline, just so happy about what the guys are doing.”

James returns with eight games left in the Lakers’ regular season as they attempt to avoid missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year and the third time in James’ five seasons in Los Angeles.

The Lakers provided few updates on James’ condition during his absence, and James kept the details of his recovery firmly under wraps on social media.

The 38-year-old said he doesn’t know whether he’ll need surgery after the season, but he expects to have an MRI exam after he’s done playing for the summer. He said he would be at full strength for training camp in the fall even if he has the surgery.

He’s now looking healthy at a key point for the Lakers, who could finally have their full roster available for the final games of the stretch run.

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