Issue XCVI

21 OCT 2016



Qatar basketball players slam headscarf ban an 'insult'


"This is an insult to us, they did not respect our religion," Qatar forward Refaa Morjan Mohammed said, adding that the team had worn the headscarf many times in Arab Championships without problems.

INCHEON, Sept 25:

Qatar’s women basketball players Thursday slammed a ban on them wearing the hijab headscarf as an “insult”, after forfeiting a second Asian Games match.

The Gulf state’s team have protested strongly at a ban by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) on headwear on the court.

“This is an insult to us, they did not respect our religion,” Qatar forward Refaa Morjan Mohammed told AFP, adding that the team had worn the headscarf many times in Arab Championships without problems.

Qatar captain Amal Mohammed Saleh captain, who plays centre in the hijab, said the ban made no sense when combat sports had allowed it.

Qatar missed their campaign against Mongolia in the qualifying round on Wednesday and their match against Nepal on Thursday.

They say they will not go to the stadium for their game against Kazakhstan on Friday unless they can wear a hijab.

“We were ready for the game, but we were surprised at the stadium that we could not play wearing the scarf — it was an insult to us,” the 34-year-old told AFP.

“What are the safety issues? Judo, karate and handball are much more violent sports than basketball — in basketball there’s a foul if there is any contact, so what safety issues are they talking about?”

Centre Amal Mohamed Awad, 28, warned the game would suffer in Middle East countries unless FIBA had a change of heart.

“I ask the concerned authorities to let us play with the hijab — there are many Arab countries that want to participate but are reluctant to do so because of the laws of the International Basketball Federation,” she said.

The Qatar squad has five players who wear a hijab and six who do not.

The slogan of the Incheon Asiad is “Diversity shines here”, but the Qataris have complained the hijab rule runs contrary to Olympic principles on respecting cultures and religions.

FIBA have not commented. The governing body is under growing pressure however to fall into line with many other sports, including football, and allow the headscarf.

And the Qataris have had support from the Olympic Council of Asia, whose director general Husain Al-Musallam said the athletes’ rights should be the “highest priority”.

Incheon Asian Games spokesman Park Dal-Hwa said however the organisers were leaving it to the sports federations concerned to handle the dispute.

Qatar women's basketball team pulls out of Asian Games over hijab row


Team forfeited Mongolia game, withdrew ahead of Nepal clash.

Incheon South Korea

Qatar pulled out of the women's basketball competition at the Asian Games on Thursday after refusing to abide by international regulations preventing them from wearing hijabs, while organizers said they were powerless to do anything about it.

The Qatari players had been asked to remove their head coverings before their opening group game against Mongolia on Wednesday, but chose to forfeit the match instead.

According to International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rules, Article 4.2.2 dictates players cannot wear "headgear, hair accessories and jewelry."

With no sign of the rule being relaxed ahead of their scheduled match against Nepal on Thursday, Qatar decided to withdraw from their remaining games at the 17th Asiad, which is being run under the slogan: 'Diversity Shines Here'.

"We have decided not to take part in the remainder of the Asian Games women's basketball competition," an assistant with Qatar's National Olympic Committee told Reuters by telephone.

Nepal's players took the court for 15 minutes at the Samsan World Gymnasium, passing and shooting among themselves, before the forfeit was announced.

Both Qatar games were recorded as 20-0 defeats on the Games' official website.


The wearing of hijabs has become a hot topic in sport in recent years with Muslim athletes complaining that they are being discriminated against.

Judoka Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani hit the headlines at the 2012 London Olympics when Saudi Arabia demanded she be allowed to compete wearing a hijab.

While international judo federation rules at the time barred her from doing so, Shaherkani was eventually allowed to compete wearing a modified veil.

Human Rights Watch told Reuters it should have been up to FIBA to prove why Qatari players should not wear headscarves.

"We oppose any general ban on wearing of headscarves and onus should be on the regulator to prove why a ban is necessary on the basis of health and safety," it said.

"In the case of basketball, it's difficult to see how a ban on the headscarf is anything other than an unnecessary restriction on the players' rights to religious freedom and personal autonomy."

Competition at the Asian Games is conducted under the regulations of the sports' international governing bodies, meaning athletes in other sports are free to wear hijabs.

All four bronze medal-winning rowers of Iran's...


GLENDALE, Ariz. — After the 49ers blew a 17-point, second-quarter...


GLENDALE, Ariz. — After the 49ers blew a 17-point, second-quarter lead in a Week 2 loss to the Bears, Jim Harbaugh said his team was in the “bouncing-back business” and was expertly equipped to respond.

“Tough loss,” Harbaugh said. “Fortunately, we’re a tough team.”

Unfortunately for the 49ers, they resembled the exact same team Sunday that collapsed against Chicago. For the second straight week, the 49ers’ dominant first half was followed by disaster in the final two quarters and they fell 23-14 to the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.

After much talk of “finishing” in the days before kickoff, they again fizzled and were outscored 17-0 after halftime. The 49ers have now been overwhelmed 52-3 in the second half this season and their latest late-game no-show dropped them to 1-2 and two games behind the Cardinals (3-0) in the NFC West.

What’s happening in the final two quarters, guys? The 49ers could offer no insight.

“We just have to execute better,” fullback Bruce Miller said.

Said quarterback Colin Kaepernick: “We have to score more.”

And linebacker Patrick Willis: “We just have to go back and watch the film and find out what we did wrong.”

Does Harbaugh understand his team’s Jekyll-and-Hyde routine?

“No, I don’t,” the head coach said.

After leading 14-6 at halftime, the 49ers were penalized six times for 86 yards in the second half, which included back-to-back 15-yard infractions for hits on quarterback Drew Stanton during Arizona’s first touchdown drive. The 49ers’ five second-half possessions included three punts and a blocked field-goal attempt before the clock ran out on their final march.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals were executing just fine with a backup quarterback making only his second start since 2010 and rookie wide receiver John Brown. Stanton and Brown connected on scoring passes of 24 and 21 yards on Arizona’s first two second-half drives to give the Cardinals a 20-14 lead they would not relinquish.

The Cardinals entered having lost nine of their past 10 games against the 49ers dating to 2009, prompting head coach Bruce Arians to tell his players, “It can’t be a rivalry if you get your ass kicked all the time.” This season, though, they’ve been tougher than their longtime tormentors when it matters most. Arizona is 3-0, thanks to three second-half comebacks.


49ers' new-look offense pays early dividends

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The 49ers offense took on a radical, new look Sunday by often deploying four and five wide receivers, a switch prompted by the absences of injured tight ends Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald.

"We moved the ball well whenever we got five wide," Anquan Boldin. "I don't think there's any defense in the league that has five defensive backs that can cover us outside like that."It still wasn't enough to produce any second-half points in a 23-14 loss to the host Arizona Cardinals.But Colin Kaepernick seemed to thrive in the spread formation, both with his arm (245 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions) and legs (team-high 13 carries for 54 yards). He completed his first nine passes and finished with a career-high 78.4 completion percentage (29 of 37)."It was something new," Kaepernick said. "In the second half, we ran it here and there."Six players had receptions, and that didn't include rookie Bruce Ellington, who entered as the fifth wide receiver next to Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd. Crabtree had a team-high 10 catches for 80 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown reception.Johnson had a breakout game (nine catches, 103 yards), and Boldin caught all six passes that came his way (36 yards). Derek Carrier's lone catch was a 23-yard reception as he started in place of Davis (ankle) and McDonald (knee)."Whenever we put five wide receivers on the field, teams are going to have a tough time stopping us," Boldin said.Advertisement

That pass-heavy formation meant minimal carries for Frank Gore, who had six for 10 yards in his lowest output since the 2011 regular-season finale (9 yards). Gore told reporters the 49ers offense simply "did what the defense gave us," and he then declined to comment further."I was a little surprised they didn't use the running game more when the (score) was close," Cardinals linebacker Larry Foote said.Carlos Hyde had three carries for 13 yards, including his second-career touchdown. Hyde scored on a 6-yard charge in which he plowed over safety Rashad Johnson at the 1.Linebacker Michael Wilhoite was credited with his first career forced fumble on Larry Fitzgerald's reception at the 49ers' 4-yard line with 6:54 remaining in the fourth quarter. Perrish Cox scooped it up for his first career fumble recovery. "It was a big play to get our offense back on the field," said safety Antoine...


Jonathan Papelbon in need of a different kind of adjustment


Umpire Joe West could be fined for snatching up a handful of Jonathan Papelbon’s jersey – while Papelbon was still in it – so that West could rid himself of the puerile Phillies reliever and return to his position Sunday afternoon.

He will be criticized for ejecting Papelbon for what Papelbon claimed was a simple jockstrap adjustment and most suspect was not that at all, but rather a gesture that often comes with the phrase, “Yeah, I gotchure boos right here, pally.”

West could even be suspended, presumably, because there are rules against umpires putting their hands on players and other field personnel, no matter the level of the abuse.

He shouldn’t be fined and he shouldn’t be suspended, because good for Joe West.

He may wear this one in the wallet, but from the moment he trudged from his place near second base to the Phillies’ dugout, to his clear and unemotional ejection of Papelbon, to his efforts to disengage from the nuclear Papelbon and his heavy slog back to second base, he was right.

Somebody had to stand for a little dignity out there. Somebody had to remind Papelbon that his jockstrap adjustment could have waited another six feet, at which point he could have adjusted all he wanted in the privacy of his dugout (though admittedly without the same effect). Somebody had to show Papelbon that not everyone is his to offend, abuse or bully.

Papelbon had blown a save, spectacularly. The Philly crowd let him know how it felt about that. Papelbon looked directly into the crowd and grandly adjusted himself.

View photo

[Jonathan Papelbon walks off the field after making a lewd gesture to the crowd Sunday. (AP)]

Jonathan Papelbon walks off the field after making a lewd gesture to the crowd Sunday. (AP)

On Monday, MLB suspended Papelbon for seven games and fined him, so clearly the league was not buying the “adjustment” defense. Nobody believed it anyway.

West did not lose his cool. He did not make a show of running Papelbon from a game he’d probably seen the last of anyway. He simply walked over to the Phillies’ bench and, in so many words, told Papelbon that sort of behavior was not OK on a field on which he – West – was the crew chief.

West was within his authority as an umpire to do so. Then, when Papelbon could hardly be restrained in his disagreement, West was again within his authority, this time as a grown man attempting to leave the...

Jonathan Papelbon of Phillies should not be only one punished in obscene gesture incident


You would think a baseball player making an obscene gesture to booing fans would only result in punishment for that player.

But after Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon was ejected for doing just that on Sunday afternoon, the incident then resulted in an action that should leave an MLB umpire facing some consequences.

Papelbon, who was suspended seven games on Monday for the incident, charged out of the dugout after his ejection in the ninth inning of Sunday's game and got in the face of umpire Joe West. The umpire then grabbed Papelbon by the jersey and pulled him out of the way.

As inappropriate and immature as Papelbon's actions were that day, there was no reason for West to lay his hands on him. No matter how heated an argument can get, a player should not put his hands on an umpire and an ump should not touch a player. It's that simple.

Imagine if it was Papelbon who grabbed West by the uniform and pulled him out of the way. Think about the public outcry for severe punishment for Papelbon that would occur if the incident was the other way around.

MLB didn't like Papelbon's gesture to the Phillies crowd and dropped a punishment on him. The league should now turn its attention to West and make it clear that it's not OK for an umpire to lay his hands on a player during an argument.


Mangled in Miami: Ugly loss leaves Patriots in cellar


LOST: Quarterback Tom Brady hangs his head on the bench during the Pats’ season-opening loss to the Dolphins yesterday in Miami Gardens, Fla.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Patriots needed a floodlight to showcase everything they had going for them after a tremendous offseason and training camp. It seemed only a microscope was necessary to reveal their perceived weaknesses.

Credit the Miami Dolphins for having the vision to exploit those areas yesterday with a thorough 33-20 win at Sun Life Stadium. And when it really mattered, the Dolphins outscored the visitors 23-0 in a one-sided second half.

The Patriots are now in sole possession of last place in the AFC East for the first time since Tom Brady took over as starting quarterback in 2001, and they’ve got a losing record for the second time in a decade.

“It’s not how you start (the season),” nose tackle Vince Wilfork said. “It’s how you finish. We started (crappy), I’ll tell you that, but we’ll get it together.”

It started with the offensive line, which allowed four sacks and countless hits on Brady. He completed 29-of-56 passes for 249 yards and one touchdown, but he was only 10-of-27 for 62 yards in the second half, when he also lost two fumbles in Patriots territory.

The offensive line was tabbed as the biggest question mark, as 60 percent of its starters weren’t known until yesterday. Starters Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Dan Connolly, Jordan Devey and Sebastian Vollmer and rotational center Ryan Wendell couldn’t keep Brady upright long enough to find anyone down the field after halftime. This follows the decision to trade Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“You can look for Logan all you want. He’s not coming back,” Vollmer said when asked if they missed Mankins’ leadership. “I just don’t see it that way. I don’t know what to tell you.”

Even the ever-reliable tight end Michael Hoomanawanui whiffed on the Dolphins’ Cameron Wake before the speedy rusher forced Brady’s first fumble in the third quarter, setting up Ryan Tannehill’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace that tied the game, 20-20.

The Pats followed with a three-and-out that led to a 10-play drive, which Miami capped with Caleb Sturgis’ 22-yard field goal that gave them a 23-20 advantage with 2:38 remaining in the third quarter. At that point, the Dolphins had 13 third-quarter points to the Patriots’ seven offensive snaps.

“You can’t play the way we played today and think we’ll win a game this season,”...

Patriots looked downright soft, but Belichick will fix them


Tom Brady slumps off the field during a season-opening Patriots loss to the Dolphins in sweltering Miami conditions.

What’s wrong with the Patriots?

Probably much less than what they displayed during their meltdown in the Miami heat, but there are three unbeaten teams in the AFC East and the Patriots aren’t one of them.

What was especially disturbing and had Bill Belichick ratcheting up his Mumble-o-meter was how soft the Patriots were in the trenches on both sides of the ball. They couldn’t block Cameron Wake (2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles), couldn’t keep him or anyone else off Tom Brady and couldn’t contain Knowshon Moreno, who was rampaging behind a post-Bullygate offensive line that featured five new starters but won’t be incognito for long if this keeps up.

The timing of the recent Logan Mankins trade to Tampa Bay has had an unsettling effect on the Patriots offensive line and the locker room.

Mike Wallace even paid a visit to Darrelle Revis’ $12 Million Island and beat him on a 14-yard TD pass from Ryan Tannehill. Then Revis cramped up in the fourth quarter.

Rob Gronkowski caught a TD pass but played only 38 of 86 snaps. Brady was 2-for-18 for 65 yards on throws of at least 15 yards.

But before you dare think about the imminent demise of the Patriots, remember they lost their 2003 season opener 31-0 in Buffalo before losing once the rest of the way en route to their Super Bowl XXXVIII victory over the Panthers. Belichick will get it fixed.

The Dolphins win improves Mike Tannenbaum’s record as consultant to 1-0.