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First ever hijabi referee, Sara Gamal, makes Olympic history

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Sara Gamal from Egypt becomes the first ever hijab-wearing Muslim woman to referee at the Olympic Games. 

32-year-old Gamal, who made the transition from a basketball player to referee, will be umpiring the 3×3 basketball, which itself is making a debut in the Olympics in Tokyo this July. This also makes Sara the first ever Arab and African woman to officiate 3×3 basketball at the Olympics. 

It is estimated that around 182 countries and over 430,000 players around the world play 3×3 basketball. The sport is known to be the world’s most-played urban team sport. 

Gamal’s breakthrough in the sport industry first happened back in 2017 when she effectively ended the ban on Islamic headscarves in the International Basketball Federation as they changed their rules regarding headgear on the court.

This season the 32-year-old took her accomplishments even further, when she refereed in the men’s final of the Egypt Cup as well as in the Basketball Africa League for Men.

“Those were big steps for me, and all the other female referees in Egypt, because it was the first time a female referee officiated a men’s final in the country,” states Sara

Before becoming a referee, Sara Gamal, who is also a civil engineer, studied for five years at college whilst pursuing her basketball dreams on the side. Today, she still works as an engineer. 

Gamal stated “In the past, many thought they would never be able to take charge of international games, and that they would only be restricted to local matches…But now I’m happy to have played a part in making the difference…Veiled referees now have every reason to believe that they can take their careers to the international level. Many have called me to say they were encouraged to follow suit.”

Sara also stated that her family is very proud of her, and that she is aware of the fact that with great success, expectations also increase. She says, “Representing not only myself but also Africa and the Arab world is a big responsibility”.

Alongside Gamal’s worldly success, she has maintained her faith. She states she “took [her] faith as a guide” and that throughout the process, her faith in God gave her strength.

Sara mentioned that she prays after each of her games: “I pray to God to help the game or tournament go great.” 

Gamal’s accomplishments and successes make Muslims around the world proud, while also helping give hijab-wearing Muslim women confidence. The representation makes them believe that they too can pursue their dreams whilst remaining true to their faith.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Pakistan will not boycott New Zealand in Twenty20 World Cup

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Pakistan has decided not to boycott New Zealand in next month’s Twenty20 World Cup match. This decision has been made after the New Zealand cricket team recently pulled out of the white-ball series in Pakistan at the last minute.

The decision to abandon the tour made by New Zealand infuriated the Pakistan cricket team. Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) expressed their displeasure at the decision and some called for a boycott of matches against New Zealand.

However, amid controversy, PCB chief executive Wasim Khan stated in a Zoom press conference that no such action is on the cards. He added “Right now there is no issue of us not playing New Zealand”.

Khan mentioned the fans and stated “we have a duty to the fans and we have to fulfil that.” Khan also ruled out players wearing black armbands in protest.

According to Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, the New Zealand cricket team allegedly received a security threat that led them to cancel their tour of Pakistan on Friday 17th September 2021, just as the first One-Day International was due to begin in Rawalpindi.

Arden expressed her views on the cancellations saying New Zealand Cricket “made the right decision” to pull out of the tour.

New Zealand have refused to give details of the security threat that led to the cancellation of the tour.

Mr. Khan, although not boycotting New Zealand, has expressed concerns regarding the pull out. He stated that the way the match was abandoned “was disrespectful” and consequently created “political tensions” in the PCB’s relationship with New Zealand Cricket. 

“It’s easy to walk out of countries like Pakistan without any reason, without any dialogue and that has to stop,” Khan added.

Khan also mentioned how previous attempts to convince Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to visit for a replacement series have been unsuccessful due to logistical issues. 

Pakistan has made great efforts to revive tours by foreign teams, after the suspension of home internationals in 2009 following a terror attack in Lahore on the Sri Lankan team. New Zealand’s pull out of the white-ball series is a major setback to Pakistan. Therefore, the future of Pakistan in the cricket industry appears unclear and unstable.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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U.S. Olympic gymnasts speak out against sexual abuse by doctor

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Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Top U.S. Olympic gymnasts, including world renowned Simone Biles, have recently spoken out against the handling of Larry Nassar’s case by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Four elite gymnasts; Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman spoke out emotionally about the sexual abuse and trauma they faced from Nassar’s repeated sexual misconduct as sports doctor for the Olympics. The testimonials presented before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday 15th September 2021 highlighted the walls of silence by FBI agents when told about the molestations. 

“I cried and there was just silence” McKayla Maroney testified, as she recalled telling the FBI the details of the sexual abuse she experienced.Aly Raisman said in the testimonial that the FBI “made [her] feel [her] abuse didn’t count” and tried “to nvince [her] that it wasn’t that bad.”

Raisman added that it took her “years of therapy to realize my abuse was bad, that it does matter” and all that was “needed was for one adult to do the right thing.”

Biles, the four-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time world champion — widely considered to be the greatest gymnast of all time — clearly stated “I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse”.

An internal investigation by the Justice Department released in July 2021 stated that the FBI made fundamental errors in the probe. Furthermore, the FBI did not treat the case with the “utmost seriousness” after the initial reporting of the abuse to the FBI’s field office in Indianapolis by USA Gymnastics back in 2015. 

The director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, has now also apologised stating, “kinds of fundamental errors that were made in this case in 2015 and 2016 should have never happened, period,” and that he is “deeply and profoundly sorry that so many people let you down over and over again.”

Biles testified “The scars of this horrific abuse continue to live with all of us … the impacts of this man’s abuse are not ever over or forgotten.”

Advocates for the women say as many as 120 athletes may have been abused by Nassar after the FBI first heard of the charges against the doctor. 

The shocking mishandling of this case, and the sexual abuse carried out by Larry Nassar must be looked into further and action must be taken for this prevented in the future. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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A World Cup every two years – has FIFA finally come up with a good idea?

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Maradona’s goal of the century (and the other goal), Tshabalala’s ‘goal for Africa’, Zidane’s headbutt, and many more; the World Cup has uniquely produced football’s most emotional, controversial, and endearing moments. This week, FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, Arsene Wenger, is proposing that the beautiful game’s most illustrious tournament should take place every two years, rather than four.

The idea has been met with initial scepticism as summarised by England manager, Gareth Southgate: “my feedback would be – I don’t know – that our generation are going to find a World Cup every two years a strange concept.” UEFA’s president, Alexander Ceferin, has also openly voiced his disagreement with the proposal. 

The plan

Arsene Wenger’s plan is for the international calendar to contain one annual tournament per year, whether it be a World Cup or a continental tournament such as the Euros. He told L’Equipe that he wants to halve the number of international breaks from four to two, which would include the qualification matches for each tournament. When challenged, Wenger stated that there was no financial incentive behind his plan.

Why the disagreement?

Predictably, the plan has been met with much criticism. One angle of disagreement is the idea that a World Cup every two years could diminish the tournament’s beauty. TalkSPORT’s Danny Murphy said that the lure of the World Cup could be lost if played every two years. Wales’ captain and Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale this week said, “I like the tradition of the World Cup every four years. It has that prestige like the Olympics where it comes around every four years and it feels that little bit more special because it’s not happening too often.” The World Cup is of course the pinnacle of a footballer’s career. It is the ultimate competition and stage, with football’s most renowned prize up for grabs. The question that remains is whether holding it more often will reduce this allure. 

Another, more practical point of contention is the risk of player burnout. At club level, a player may end up playing in more than five competitions in one season. If an international tournament takes place every year, there could be a serious risk of players overplaying and sustaining injuries. In the 2020-2021 season, 18-year-old Pedri played over 60 games for Barcelona and Spain. Could overplaying a prodigious talent such as him be a symptom of Wenger’s plan? 

The benefits the change can bring

All is not gloom as Wenger’s plan for the future does certainly have its benefits. The obvious one is that there will be more World Cup football! Who does not love the World Cup? More World Cups mean we will have the privilege of experiencing more moments that will never be forgotten. 

Furthermore, World Cup tournaments need hosts. A World Cup every two years opens the floodgates for many countries who previously did not have a good chance to host football’s biggest competition. No one can forget the Vuvuzela’s of South Africa. A World Cup in Africa was a beautiful summer and with Wenger’s plan, there will certainly be opportunities for other African countries to host the tournament. There has only been one World Cup in South America since 1978, only one World Cup in Asia and Africa, and England has not hosted it since 1966. Additional World Cups will enable more fans to experience their own country hosting the tournament and for people to experience other cultures. 

Another plus point is for the players themselves. More World Cups means there will be more opportunities for footballers to realise childhood dreams. Taking Marco Reus as an example, a world class player in his day; this summer, he missed the Euros, previously he has missed the World Cup in 2014 and Euros in 2016. It can be said to be a tragedy that such a talented player has missed out on various tournaments due to injury. A World Cup every two years would certainly allow players of the future less chance of meeting the same fate as Marco Reus. Fans want to see the best perform at the highest level.

A step in the right direction 

The international game needs fixing, there is no doubt about it. Dead-rubber friendlies and extremely one-sided qualifiers have made the international breaks during the club season a chore to watch. Wenger’s plan to improve the competitiveness and scheme to increase the number of top tier tournaments is a step in the right direction. However, the strong disagreement by UEFA, clubs and pundits for this idea will likely force Wenger to go back to the drawing board. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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PCB announces ICC World Cup T20 squad: Sarfaraz Ahmed and Sharjeel Khan miss out, Asif Ali makes a comeback!

Pakistan set preparations underway for the T20 world cup campaign, by playing New Zealand for a five-match series in Lahore starting from 25th September

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The National Chief Selector, Muhammad Waseem, has announced Pakistan’s squad for the upcoming home T20 series against New Zealand and England. The same squad will play the International Cricket Council (ICC) T20 World Cup, scheduled to take place in the UAE, beginning from next month from 17th October till 14th November.

The experienced campaigner and previous skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed and Sharjeel Khan have been dropped from the 15-man squad. Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali and Azam Khan have once again been added to the line-up. The selection panel have also dropped the allrounder Faheem Ashraf, whilst the trio of Shanawaz Dahani, Fakhar Zaman and Usman Qadir have been named as travelling reserves.

We have tried different combinations, identified different areas and found final options for the best selection”, stated the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief selector Mohammad Wasim when announcing the squad in a press conference on Monday. He went on to say that, “there were things required but had been missing and now you will see the difference as we tried to cover all the bases, especially considering the conditions in UAE where we are carrying an advantage” 

Wasim further added, “We are very much familiar with the conditions and have a good T20 record, so taking every aspect in account including the opponents we have combined this team. The team has a tendency required for modern day cricket, a brand we often talk about. We tried to load specialist players for the role. So we are quite hopeful that with all the preparation our team will play outstanding and perform.”

The selection of Asif Ali over the experienced middle-order batsman and allrounder, Shoaib Malik, has been met with some surprise as Asif Ali’s recent performances show a poor form. He is currently averaging 16.38 with a strike-rate of 123.74 from 29 T20Is. Though his domestic T20 career is decorated with a strike rate of 147.02, Asif is presently playing in the Caribbean Premier League with 32 runs at a strike rate of 96.96 from five games.

Justifying their inclusion in the squad Waseem said; “I do agree they [Asif and Khushdil] didn’t perform (since they were dropped) but then none of the others made their case, as well. So, we figured out which player we can lay our confidence in, who can do well under pressure and can perform in those conditions against the bowling line-ups expected in the UAE. They are the best options we have with the left and right combination in the middle. Asif Ali is still the best striker of the ball in Pakistan. I believe he can do well in pressure handling, and will do well in the tournament. We considered a lot of players, but we have our trust in them as compared to others.”


Based on his recent top-notch performances behind the stumps and as a batsman, Mohammed Rizwan has kept his position as the first-choice wicket keeper in all three formats. However, the young talent, Azam Khan, has now replaced Sarfaraz Ahmed as the reserve keeper.

Wasim commented on this choice stating, “Azam is selected as a back-up keeper with Rizwan as our number one keeper and he will remain on top. Earlier we had an option to pick a larger squad and there was always room, but now when it comes down to pick a 15-man squad, then Azam can easily edge anyone because of his ability as a power-hitting batter. If on any day we want anyone with a high strike-rate in the middle order, he offers the luxury of being able to fill in as an extra batter as well.” 

Overall, the squad is well-balanced, which covers all the bases of the game, albeit, on paper. In the UAE, playing conditions traditionally are in favour of the slow bowlers, as pitches ordinarily have a low bounce and are susceptible to spin from the outset. There are three full-time spin bowling options with Mohammed Hafeez being fourth with his more-than-useful right arm off-break. 

An argument could be presented for Shoaib Malik’s inclusion to strengthen the inexperienced middle-order. However, Mohammed Hafeez has been preferred over Shoaib Malik considering his impressive numbers in the past two years. Since the beginning of last year, Hafeez has scored 521 runs, averaging 37.21 with a strike rate of 142.73 from 17 innings, he scored four half centuries with 99 not out being his highest score. Mohammed Hafeez’s superior all-round abilities, especially his off break against left-handed batsmen also gives him an edge over Shoaib Malik. 

While a lot of slack is being given in the way of Pakistan, it is a team full surprises and shocks, ups and downs, heroes to zeros. Pakistan will entertain us from on and off the field and they will be looking to chase their 2nd T20 World Cup since 2009. The upcoming series will be crucial in identifying the team’s best line-up.

So here is the final 15-man squad carrying Pakistan’s hopes:

Babar Azam (Captain), Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), Sohaib Maqsood, Mohammad Hafeez, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Azam Khan (wicket-keeper), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Mohammad Nawaz, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Wasim Junior.

Travelling Reserves: Fakhar Zaman, Usman Qadir, Shanawaz Dahani 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Ronaldo and Raducanu in a Record Breaking Week – The Commentary Box

A week of records being broken! Tennis has a new teenage superstar, Emma Raducanu and the veteran, Cristiano Ronaldo, footballer who has another record to his name and team GB’s record performance at the Tokyo Paralympics.

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All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Football transfer window: Summer 2020/21

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With fans allowed back in stadiums and the world trying to return to some sort of normality with Covid, this transfer window exploded unexpectedly. Therefore, in this regard, it will be viewed as one of the busiest and most amazing transfer windows in history. To capture the climax of the window, the top five transfers have been picked as players that will be game changers for their new teams.

5. Saul Niguez (loan move – Atletico Madrid to Chelsea)

A legend for Atletico Madrid. Having won the La Liga with the club in the season gone, this was going to be a painful loss to the club and especially the fans. But he reportedly wanted out himself at this point, feeling he wasn’t getting the opportunities as he did in time gone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that he’s losing his touch, I think he is still a world class midfielder but the reason he makes the cut into the top five for me is because this is someone Chelsea (as odd as it sounds) really needed. 

They have no proper defensive midfielder of exceptional quality other than Kante. Jorghino – I personally think looks good because of who plays around him otherwise he has no real talent other than distribution of the ball and taking funny penalties. Kovacic is hit and miss and therefore the missing puzzle in the middle for Chelsea, I think, is Saul. He’s not exactly a defensive midfielder as such, but he will bring more to the table than Jorghino currently does.

4. Romelu Lukaku (£97.5 million – Inter Milan to Chelsea)

What a journey. Back to the club he played for originally, for a record-breaking fee for Series A. Chelsea are not short of options, anywhere on the pitch. But what they lacked last season was getting the ball into the net. Werner was signed last year and was expected to be as prolific as he was at RB Leipzig but unfortunately, he made it very clear, from his first game, that the Premier League is something he had never expected. “The defenders are so big and strong!” was his response when asked about his first game for Chelsea. 

Chelsea did go on to win the Champions League of course but with the amount of goals Werner missed (18 big chances – in the Premier League alone) they seriously lacked a deadly finisher. And in comes Lukaku. An original Chelsea reject, who went on to be prolific at scoring for Everton, Belgium, fairly well at Manchester United as well, and brilliantly in Series A at Inter Milan helping them win the league. And he has made an instant impact already for Chelsea. Golden boot incoming? 

3. Lionel Messi (free transfer – Barcelona to PSG)

Only third on the list? The G.O.A.T (Ronaldo fan hate comments incoming) is third? For me, in this window where both himself and Ronaldo moved teams, I think impact wise for their new clubs, yes. Messi is the third best transfer for me. I don’t even need to go into detail with what he can bring to a team, but at PSG he has a star-studded squad of exceptional quality around him already. What I think will be a game changer for PSG is the confidence he will bring to the team in the biggest matches where they tend to falter – the Champions League. And Messi knows a thing or two about winning that trophy.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.8 million – Juventus to Manchester United)

No one saw this one coming. A few weeks before, he put out a statement saying he is staying at Juventus. Then out of no where Manchester City a few days before the window closed went in for him (almost as soon as they knew they wouldn’t be signing Harry Kane). Now the drama behind this transfer is still to be known. Who played who? Who got the best deal? What was going on? 

But as far as the average Joe knows, City wanted him with no transfer fee and reduced wages. Manchester United heard that their legend is about to go to their rivals and jumped aboard to sign him instead. City did not budge, and when they don’t want to budge, they don’t want to budge (the Alexis Sanchez saga comes to mind) and pulled out of the deal – leaving Ronaldo as a Manchester United player once again. Of course, there is a small £23m transfer fee for Juventus and just the little £500,000 a week wages for him at United, but come on, you are getting Ronaldo! 

My only worry with this signing is that Ronaldo might just be past his best. That doesn’t mean he won’t score a bucket load of goals. But he is no longer a winger. He can play as a central striker and play that role very well and to be quite honest, that’s what United needed. Ronaldo and Cavani occupying that space throughout the season should set United on course to maybe, just maybe, win a trophy under Ole.

1.  Raphael Varane (£34 million – Real Madrid to Manchester United) 

The best transfer of the window. A trophy laden player with exceptional quality. Confident, talented and ready for the biggest stages at any given opportunity. What were United lacking? A CB who is confident, talented and ready for the biggest stages at any given opportunity. 

Alongside Maguire, they can build a very strong partnership for many years to come. He is the missing piece of the puzzle at the back for United who aren’t shy of scoring goals, but in more recent years – were not shy of giving them away as well. Watch out for Man of the Match performances from Varane in the Premier League. The intensity of the English game is much higher than in Spain, but he will deal with it with grace and make it look beautiful at the same time, eventually. 

He already has with his first game against Wolves where he provided an assist, but frailties were there. Wolves should have won that game hands down, were it not for De Gea, but that doesn’t mean Varane is not capable of what he managed at Real Madrid, in Manchester. It won’t take a player of his calibre long to settle in and get down to business.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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