Suleyman Karimov, Sportsman/Philanthropist

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Russia’s Suleyman Karimov is a member of the Federation Council of Russia (the upper chamber of the Russian parliament), a businessman, an investor and an active philanthropist. He has a degree in financial accounting and economics from Dagestan State University. And he is currently listed as number 118 on Forbes’ list of the World’s Billionaires, with a reported net worth of $7.8 billion. A self-made investor, Kerimov earned his success by building a diverse investment portfolio made up of both public and private interests. And his charitable organization, the Suleiman Kerimov Foundation, has directed over $60 million to charitable causes.

Most prominently, in January 2011, he purchased the Russian Premier League football team FC Anzhi Makhachkala. And this past August, Karimov made a huge splash by acquiring Samuel Eto’o and making him the highest paid footballer in the world. Eto’o’s salary is estimated at €20 million ($AU27 million) net per season, eclipsing the estimated €12 million ($AU17.4 million) that Cristiano Ronaldo earns at Real Madrid and the €10.5 million ($AU15.2 million) that Lionel Messi is paid by Barcelona. After a week of negotiations, the transfer fee was reportedly set between €25 and €27 million ($36 and $39 million). The deal also put the former Inter and Barcelona striker ahead of the NBA’s highest-paid player, Kobe Bryant ($AU25.2 million). The New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez still makes more with his $32 million this season.

From 1999 to 2007, Kerimov served as a Deputy of the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament. He was Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Physical Education, Youth and Sports and also a member of the State Duma’s Security Committee. He now serves as a member of the Financial Markets and Monetary Circulation Committee.

Kerimov is married and has three children. A lifelong athlete and supporter of youth sports, Kerimov currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Wrestling Federation. He has served in this position since the board was created in 2006.

On November 26, 2006, in Nice, France Kerimov was seriously injured in a road accident on the Promenade des Anglais. He suffered severe burns from this accident followed by prolonged recovery. Following his car crash and resulting medical treatment for severe burns, Kerimov donated €1 million to the non-profit organization Pinocchio. The non-profit organization, which works with children suffering from burns, has an annual budget of between €250,000-300,000.

In 2007, Kerimov founded The Suleiman Kerimov Foundation with the vision to help lives by investing in initiatives that strengthen communities and help those in need. The foundation supports projects all over the world, with particular emphasis on Russia and Russian communities. Between its 2007 and 2009, the foundation made donations totaling over $164 million in support of worthwhile projects and causes.

On December 17, 2010, it was announced that Kerimov would spend $100 million on the construction of an advanced comprehensive school west of Moscow “for educating forward-minded children from different social groups.” The school is to include a modern sports complex with a swimming pool, a skating-rink, a giant dance floor, as well as a residential area for gifted children from the provinces.

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Iranian Girls Soccer Team No Longer Banned

May 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

iran_1610091c It was a happy day for a gaggle of young girls in Iran who were finally being allowed to play ball. The Iranian girls soccer team, who had been banned last month from participating in August’s inaugural Youth Olympics, was now being allowed to compete in the six-nation tournament in Singapore. There was a disagreement between FIFA, the governing body of soccer, and the Iran Football Federation, over what headwear the Iranian girls could don. And on April 5th, FIFA took the step of banning the girls from the upcoming tournament. Thankfully, further discussion ensued, and an agreement was reached the first week of May. “We sent FIFA a sample of our new Islamic dress and fortunately they accepted it,” said Abbas Torabian, director of the International Relations Committee of Iran’s soccer federation. “They announced that there was no objection if the players covered their hair with hats,” he told the Tehran Times. Alas, an accord was reached, but the road traveled to reach the agreement speaks volumes about the state of Islamophobia in this world.

The Iranian National Olympic Committee had originally urged FIFA and the International Olympic Committee to review the ban on the hijab, worn by girls and women as part of Islamic dress code. Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary general, rejected the request, saying FIFA had no other choice but the reject Iran’s requests. He cited FIFA’s rulebook of conduct, with Law 4 stating “basic compulsory equipment must not have any political, religious or personal statements.” So, what this argument attempts to do is to reduce the wearing of the hijib to the level of a political or religious statement, rather than the measure of modesty that it is.

The hijab issue was first examined in 2007 after an 11-year-old girl in Canada was prevented from wearing one for safety reasons. FIFA’s rules-making arm, the International Football Association Board, declined to make an exception for religious clothing. The Quebec Soccer Association said the ban on the hijab is to protect children from being accidentally strangled. This mechanism of strangulation has never been documented in sports, nor has it even been properly explained. And if the covering of the back of the neck is such a violation of sporting principles, then should there not be restrictions also on hair length below the ears?

Faride Shojaee, the vice president of the women’s department of the Iranian Football Federation, said that FIFA officials had previously allowed Iranian athletes to participate in the Olympics with their hijab, “before denying them the right to do so in the letter they sent on Monday.” Several athletes, in fact, competed at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 wearing a hijab, including Bahrain sprinter Ruqaya Al-Ghasara, her country’s flag bearer in the Opening Ceremonies.
The hijab has made its way onto the most wanted list around the globe, but particularly in Europe. France, under Nicholas Sarkoczy, has been well publicized in its growing body of rules outlawing the hijab, particularly in school. Now there is a law on the table in Belgium banning the hijab, and a similar law is being considered in the Netherlands as well. With the growing numbers of Muslims in this world, and the corresponding rise in anti-Islamic sentiment, the hijab does seem to be looked upon as more of a symbol or statement. But that is in the eye of the beholder. An eye that is increasingly becoming jaundiced by Islamophobia.

So, finally, a compromise was reached on, ”… a cap that covers their heads to the hairline, but does not extend below the ears to cover the neck.” Now the Iranian girls are back on track to compete from August 12-25 in Singapore, where about 3,600 athletes, ages 14 to 18, will compete in 26 sports. They will represent Asia against Turkey, Equatorial Guinea, Trinidad and Tobago, Chile, and Papua New Guinea. They will have to wear caps instead of hijabs. But, in the end, a happy group of girls will be allowed to play ball. What kind of person would have wanted to prevent that?

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