Chinese football stars and officials held in Xi’s corruption crackdown

Stadiums are reopening but detentions of major football figures overshadow the sport, as scandal engulfs basketball

Sergio Agüero may be one of the greatest strikers of his generation, but he won an even rarer accolade in 2015, when he became the first – and last – Premier League footballer to take a selfie with Xi Jinping, China’s football-loving leader.

The photo, taken at Manchester City’s stadium – with then prime minister David Cameron – comes from an era when Xi was fostering warm relations with the UK and pushing China to become a world football superpower by 2050, both ambitions that seem distant possibilities today.

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‘Dark days in Qatar’: Nepali workers face bitter legacy of World Cup debts

For thousands of low-paid workers, this year’s games brought back only memories of abuse and exploitation

On a huge billboard in front of Kathmandu’s international airport, is a picture of five migrant workers with the words: “Meet the hardest working team in Qatar. Wouldn’t it be great if they were compensated for it?”

Just metres away, hundreds of young men board flights to Qatar and other Gulf states every day, hoping to earn enough to look after the families they leave behind. About 400,000 Nepalis work in Qatar and many toiled for years on its preparations for the World Cup.

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‘Miracle of Doha’: calls for public holiday as Japan’s Samurai Blue put Germany to sword

Victory in World Cup opener sparks street celebrations and banishes painful memories in Doha of failure to qualify for USA 1994

Japan’s shock victory over Germany in Qatar on Wednesday sparked late-night celebrations and calls to mark the Samurai Blue’s momentous feat in their 2022 World Cup opener with a public holiday.

The clock was nearing midnight when Takuma Asano rifled Japan’s winner into the roof of the net at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha – a result that had seemed impossible after a poor first half from Japan, playing in their seventh straight World Cup.

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Indonesia to demolish football stadium where scores died in crowd crush

President Joko Widodo says Kanjuruhan stadium will be rebuilt to ‘Fifa standards’ after meeting with the world football body’s leader

The Indonesian football stadium where more than 130 people were killed in a crowd crush on 1 October will be torn down and rebuilt, the country’s president has said.

“For Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang, we will demolish and rebuild it according to Fifa standards,” Joko Widodo told reporters after meeting the Fifa president, Gianni Infantino.

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Indonesia stadium disaster: six face criminal charges over deadly crush

Police and match organisers among those to be charged after 131 were killed in one of the worst sports disasters in history

Six people, including police and match organisers, are facing criminal charges in Indonesia after a crowd crush at a football game killed at least 131 people at the weekend.

Saturday’s tragedy in the Malang region of East Java was among the worst sporting disasters ever, as hundreds of fans tried to flee a riot in the stadium and teargas being fired by police, leading to a crush worsened by several locked exits.

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Indonesia stadium tragedy: tributes paid to fan who helped others escape

Iwan Junaedi, one of the 131 people killed on Saturday, fulfilled his vow to support his team until his last breath, his wife says

The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, has visited victims of the Kanjuruhan stadium disaster, vowing to find the “root” of the tragedy as demands for justice grew.

The president said he would order an audit of all football stadiums in the country, saying: “I want to know the root of the problem that caused this tragedy so that we can get the best solution.”

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Indonesia football stadium disaster: police chief sacked as investigation launched

Officers investigated after teargas fired and at least 125 people, including 32 children, killed in crush

An Indonesian police chief and nine elite officers were removed from their posts and 18 others were being investigated for responsibility in the firing of teargas inside a soccer stadium that led to a crush, killing at least 125 people, officials said.

Indonesian police are facing increasing pressure over their management of crowds during the Kanjuruhan stadium disaster.

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‘I felt terrified’: fans tell how Indonesian stadium disaster unfolded

Witnesses describe how police use of teargas led to brutal crushes that killed 125 football fans in East Java

Just after the match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya had finished at Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang, East Java, Indonesia, on Saturday night, a group of three Arema fans climbed down from the stands, attempting to meet their team’s players on the pitch, recalled a spectator who was watching from the southern stand.

It had been a disappointing game for the home side: they’d lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya – a team they shared such fierce rivalry with that its supporters are banned from Arema’s ground. This was their first loss against Persebaya after 23 years of undefeated home matches.

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Deadly crush after police fire teargas at football match in Indonesia – video

125 people died and hundreds were injured at an Indonesian league football match. Supporters of the Javanese clubs and longtime rivals Arema and Persebaya Surabaya clashed after Arema were defeated 3-2 at the match in Malang regency, East Java. Supporters of the losing side invaded the pitch and authorities fired teargas, leading to a crowd crush

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125 dead after crowd crush at Indonesian football match

Police and match organisers under scrutiny after officers fired teargas in response to rioting fans

One of the world’s worst-ever sports stadium disasters has left 125 people dead and around 180 injured at a football match in Indonesia.

Police used teargas in response to a pitch invasion by rioting fans, causing a crush among panicked spectators.

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Migrant workers in Qatar left in debt after being ordered home before World Cup starts

Early end to migrants’ contracts leaves many owing large sums to recruiters and unable to support their families

World Cup hotel shields England team from fans – and Qatar’s labour abuses

Thousands of poorly paid migrant workers in Qatar are being forced to return home before the World Cup, leaving many fearing they will be left jobless, unable to support their families and deep in debt.

In some cases, workers say they have been sent back before the end of their contracts or without receiving their full salary or allowances.

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Protests over Cristiano Ronaldo statue in former Portuguese colony of Goa

Local politician says statue is meant to inspire young people, but critics say it is inappropriate

He is idolised as one of the greatest footballers on earth, with his number seven shirt treasured by millions of youngsters dreaming of superstardom. But Cristiano Ronaldo’s astonishing success has not been matched by those seeking to immortalise his image.

A statue of Ronaldo in action unveiled this week in Goa has triggered protests by some locals who say Indian players should be honoured ahead of one from the country that was Goa’s colonial ruler until 60 years ago.

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China bans footballers in national teams from getting tattoos

Authorities also tell inked players to remove or cover up their designs to set ‘a good example for society’

Chinese authorities have banned footballers from getting tattoos and instructed national team players who have been inked to remove them or cover them up to set a “good example for society”.

A growing number of high-profile Chinese players have tattoos, including the international defender Zhang Linpeng, who has previously been told to cover up while appearing for the national team and his club Guangzhou FC.

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‘A modern-day Schindler’s List’: Afghan junior women footballers land in UK

International rescue effort brings 130 young footballers and their families to London after Taliban takeover

Shortly before 4am on Thursday morning, a private chartered plane touched down on a freezing London runway. On board were 130 exhausted, nervous but extremely relieved female footballers and their families, whose dramatic journey to the UK from Afghanistan started more than four months ago, before Kabul fell to the Taliban and triggered an exodus.

After months of hiding, political negotiations, frantic calls and WhatsApp messages, the help of a reality TV star – and the heroic efforts of one particular woman, Khalida Popal – the Afghan girls’ youth development football team finally touched down on British soil with the promise of a new future with Leeds United.

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UK urged to resettle fleeing Afghan women’s football team

Leeds United have offered support but players face return to Taliban regime unless accepted soon

The UK government is being asked to urgently resettle female players from Afghanistan’s junior football team who fled the Taliban and have been offered a new life with Leeds United.

The 35 young women – many of whom are in their teens – their families and football coaches are in Lahore, Pakistan, on 30-day visas. But the 136-strong group face returning to Afghanistan unless they are accepted by a third country soon – they have to leave Pakistan by 12 October.

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