Shahid Khan to Purchase NFL’s Jaguars

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver fired longtime coach Jack Del Rio on Tuesday after a 3-8 start and agreed to sell the National Football League’s Jaguars to Pakistani-American businessman Shahid Khan of Illinois. League sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen that the sale is estimated to be between $750 and $800 million.

“It’s a little bittersweet, honestly, that it came as soon as it did,” Weaver announced. “But the main motivation for the exit strategy was to find someone that has the same passion about the NFL, had the same passion about football in Jacksonville as we do, and I found that person.”

“Wayne’s legacy will be lasting, and I will always be grateful for Wayne’s trust and confidence in my commitment to the Jaguars, the NFL and the people of the Jacksonville community,” the 61-year-old Khan said in a statement.

Born in Pakistan, Khan left home at age 16 to attend the University of Illinois. He graduated in 1971, a year after he started working for Flex-N-Gate Corp. in Urbana, Ill. He purchased the company in 1980. Today, Flex-N-Gate is a major manufacturer of bumper systems for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles built in North America.

“He’s going to buy a home here in Jacksonville. He’s going to spend time here in Jacksonville,” Weaver said of Khan. “He’s going to keep the Jaguars management group intact. He’s keeping the Jaguars staff intact. He has a great admiration for what we’ve been able to accomplish here and the way we run our business here so he’s keeping all that intact.”

While Weaver is confident Khan will keep the team in Jacksonville, there is nothing written in the deal which obligates Khan to do that. Weaver’s confidence stems from assurances Khan has made to him personally and the fact that the Jaguars’ lease to play at EverBank Field runs through the 2029 season. If the Jaguars wanted to leave before the end of the deal, the lease requires the team to prove they had lost money in three consecutive seasons or to convince a local judge that the city was failing to properly maintain the stadium.

“It’s pretty hard to put something in writing saying you have to do something but you have to trust individuals’ integrity and I have no doubt that Shahid is going to do what he plans to do,” Weaver said. “I had to be comfortable that his plan was to keep the team in Jacksonville. There’s not a doubt in my mind that this team will be in Jacksonville.”

Khan tried to purchase controlling interest in the NFL’s St. Louis Rams last year. But minority owner Stan Kroenke pulled an end-around and exercised his right to purchase full control of the franchise. Khan’s purchase of the Jaguars is subject to NFL approval. League owners will vote to ratify the deal December 14th, and if it passes it would become official on January 4th.

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Nicolas Anelka Says He Is Happy at Chelsea

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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

ANELKA_N_20020824_NF_LReports surfaced again this week that French Muslim footballer Nicolas Anelka was close to signing with a Major League Soccer (MLS) team in the United States this past summer and is still interested in joining the league. His current club, Chelsea Football Club of the English Premier League, published quotes from the Anelka on its website stating his desire to remain with the Premier League team.
“I am linked everywhere but – when you are linked – it doesn’t mean you want to leave,” Anelka told the website. “I like Chelsea and first of all wanted to stay that’s why I am still here.”

The 32-year-old striker’s contract runs out next summer and current manager Andre Villas-Boas has hinted that this may indeed be Anelka’s last year with the club. “I am happy here, I like the club, everyone here, and, after, I will see what happens. It is not only down to me,” Anelka told the club’s website regarding a possible transfer in either the winter or summer transfer windows. “I have been here almost four years now, and I am pleased with the way it has been. It could have been even better but I am still happy.”

Anelka was reportedly close to signing with an MLS franchise located on the West Coast, according to one of his agents. Although a deal never materialized, Anelka’s camp confirmed to the website Goal.com that their client is still interested in moving to the North American league. “I can confirm that Nicolas is still possibly interested in pursuing an MLS career,” said Michael Wiesenfeld, who is part of European Football Group, an organization which will represent Anelka’s marketing rights should he join MLS. “He got very close to landing a nice contract with a team on the West Coast in August. He also has opportunities elsewhere in the world.”

Anelka originally joined  Chelsea from Bolton inn January of 2008 for 15 million pounds. He has made 344 appearances in the Premier League and scored 123 goals to date for Arsenal, Liverpool, Bolton and Chelsea. But Chelsea’s abundance of scoring forwards, and Anelka’s advancing age, make him more expendable than ever. And with his career with the French national team likely over, a period with MLS would likely be Anelka’s swan song.

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Mohammed Bin Hammam Withdraws from FIFA Election

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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

2011-05-30T144724Z_2134548283_GM1E75U1REF01_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-FIFA-BINHAMAM

President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Mohamed bin Hammam speaks during an interview in Doha in this January 5, 2011 file photograph. Mohamed bin Hammam will appeal against his provisional suspension from FIFA in the hope of taking part in the governing body’s congress this week.

Picture taken January 5, 2011. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad/Files

Qatari soccer official Mohammed Bin Hammam withdrew from the race for presidency of international soccer’s top post of president of FIFA in the midst of corruption charges. The withdrawal of the only challenger paved the way for the re-election of a man who has been swimming in controversy since he set foot in office, current FIFA president Sepp Blatter. And that re-election is now official. Bin Hammam was subsequently suspended even before any investigation was undertaken. It has been alleged that he offered $1 million in bribes to Caribbean football officials.

Bin Hammam released a statement regarding his suspension. “I was punished before I was found guilty,” he said. “In a letter to Fifa sent this morning, Mohamed Bin Hammam protested against the unfair way he is treated by the Fifa Ethics Committee and the Fifa administration. Despite his explicit written request, he was not provided with the motivated decision of his suspension in due course and he was not able to file his appeal and was denied his last opportunity to get access to the Fifa congress.

“In his letter, Mohamed Bin Hammam stated 10 points which demonstrate very clearly that he is not getting a fair proceeding. “Most importantly, there is absolutely no justification for a suspension. The suspension is not necessary to conduct the investigation but constituted a grave violation of his reputation and created substantial damage without any necessity. Mohamed Bin Hammam repeated: “I was punished before I was found guilty. There are reasons to believe that the suspension was a solitary decision of the Chairman and not the Ethics Committee. A solitary decision of the Chairman is only possible in emergency situations, which was absolutely not the case here. The panel of the Ethics Committee was fully present.

“Mohamed Bin Hammam does not understand why the Ethics Committee found the statements of the sole eyewitness truthful when it came to the allegations made against him but disregarded the written statements of 12 CFU officials in his favour. The behaviour of the Fifa General Secretary at the media conference on Sunday evening was absolutely unacceptable and against all principles of justice. Sitting next to the Chairman of the independent Ethics Committee, he abused the event to voice his personal opinions and to comment on the results.”

“Because of this very unfair treatment, Mohamed Bin Hammam reserves all his rights, against this unprofessional and one-sided attitude, with the judicial bodies of Fifa and beyond. I am very sad and disappointed over what has happened in the last days. I will never accept how my name and my reputation have been damaged. I will fight for my rights. I thank all the people who have supported me during the last weeks and will support me further. Good days bring you happiness, bad days bring you experience.’”

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US Football Player Targeted for Criticizing Celebration of Killing

May 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jerry White

Following the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the news media and virtually every avenue of American popular culture was activated to manufacture an atmosphere of jingoism and celebration over the dirty killing of the Al Qaeda leader.

As has so often been the case, in particular since September 11, 2001, professional sports has been used to create a false aura of “national unity” and intimidate anyone critical of the criminal actions of the US government.

The backward chants of “USA! USA!” by a section of the crowd at the Philadelphia Phillies vs. the New York Mets baseball game Sunday night—following the announcement of the bin Laden killing—was followed by a week of sporting events where soldiers threw out the ceremonial first pitches and the routine singing of the national anthem at the National Basketball playoffs became the occasion for even more crude displays of flag-waving patriotism and militarism.

Sportscasters from the ESPN cable network were immediately dispatched to solicit pro-government comments from prominent athletes in an effort to demonstrate the supposed unanimity of public opinion. In an interview with Minnesota Vikings football coach Mike Priefer, a former Navy helicopter pilot, ESPN commentator Jay Crawford urged the coach that defensive players who tackle ball carriers on kickoff returns were a “well-trained team, working in precision,” just like the Navy Seal assassination squad.

Whether they shared the right-wing political conceptions or were naïve and taken in by the propaganda blitz, several prominent athletes issued statements praising the military and President Obama. There were, however, notable and, in the present circumstances, courageous exceptions. Since sports cable channels and news media would not broadcast such statements, the athletes making criticisms used their Twitter accounts.

The day after Obama’s announcement of the killing, Rashard Mendenhall, the 23-year-old star running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, tweeted: “What kind of man celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side.”

Mendenhall’s comments—which were bound up with his religious convictions and skepticism in the government’s version of the 9/11 events—were immediately seized upon for a rabid campaign accusing the football player of being disloyal and contemptuous of the 3,000 Americans killed by the terrorist attacks. The fraternity of cable television sportscasters—who, with few exceptions, generally appeal only to the base instincts of sports fans—demanded that the National Football League block athletes from having access to Twitter and social networking sites.

On Tuesday, Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II released a statement regarding Mendenhall, saying it “is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments.” He added, “The entire Steelers organization is very proud of the job our military personnel have done.”

In the face of the torrent of criticism, Mendenhall issued a clarification on his blog, which, while expressing religious conceptions and some conciliation to pro-war propaganda, nevertheless upheld his initial comments and the right to the express them.

“This controversial statement was something I said in response to the amount of joy I saw in the event of a murder. I don’t believe that this is an issue of politics or American pride; but one of religion, morality, and human ethics. I wasn’t questioning Bin Laden’s evil acts. I believe that he will have to face God for what he has done. I was reflecting on our own hypocrisy. During 9/11 we watched in horror as parts of the world celebrated death on our soil. Earlier this week, parts of the world watched us in horror celebrating a man’s death.”

On Friday, sports apparel maker Champion fired Mendenhall, who recently signed a four-year contract and had been a sponsor with the company since his NFL career started in 2008. While hypocritically claiming to respect his right to express such views, the company said, “We no longer believe that Mr. Mendenhall can appropriately represent Champion and we have notified Mr. Mendenhall that we are ending our business relationship.”

The statement added, “Champion is a strong supporter of the government’s efforts to fight terrorism and is very appreciative of the dedication and commitment of the US Armed Forces” and said Mendenhall’s comments and opinions “were inconsistent with the values of the Champion brand.”

Despite the witch-hunt atmosphere, other athletes also spoke out. Milwaukee Bucks basketball player Chris Douglas-Roberts tweeted after hearing of Bin Laden’s death, “Is this a celebration??”

Responding to several hostile tweets he went on to express his anti-war position in the regards to the killing of bin Laden.

“It took 919,967 deaths to kill that one guy.

“It took 10 years & 2 Wars to kill that…guy.

“It cost us (USA) roughly $1,188,263,000,000 to kill hat guy. But we’re winning though. Haaaa. (Sarcasm).”

With more negative reaction being tweeted at Douglas-Roberts, he went on to clarify his position.

“What I’m sayin’ has nothing to do with 9/11 or that guy (Bin Laden). I still feel bad for the 9/11 families but I feel EQUALLY bad for the war families. …

“People are telling me to get out of America now b/c I’m against MORE INNOCENT people dying every day? B/c I’m against a 10-year WAR?

“Whatever happened to our freedom of speech? That’s the problem. We don’t want to hear anything that isn’t our perspective.”

The effort to stampede public opinion, of course, has an effect. But the overwhelming sentiment of the population is one of suspicion towards the government and its official explanations and a concern over the erosion of deeply felt democratic rights in the name of the “war on terrorism.”

The American population—including athletes—have had ample experience with the lies of the US government and their exploitation of 9/11. Eight months after the terrorist attacks, Arizona Cardinal football player Patrick Tillman left a lucrative career to join the military. His death in Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border, was used by the Bush administration and Pentagon to promote support for the war, even as they concealed the fact from the American public and his family that he had been killed by friendly fire from US troops.

In 2007 testimony before a US congressional hearing, Tillman’s brother Kevin Tillman testified: “The deception surrounding this case was an insult to the family: but more importantly, its primary purpose was to deceive a whole nation. We say these things with disappointment and sadness for our country. Once again, we have been used as props in a Pentagon public relations exercise.”

While the military presented Tillman as a pro-war sports icon, his family and friends later made public that the young man developed anti-war and left-wing views while in the military and was preparing to write an anti-war book when he returned from Afghanistan.

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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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Deji Karim Begins NFL Journey

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

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

deji-karim Abdul Deji Karim had spent over two days waiting for the phone to ring. The running back from Southern Illinois University was awaiting his selection in the National Football League Draft, and the call finally came in the 6th round of the selection process. Karim was selected on April 24th by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who hope to have him spell their star running back Maurice Jones-Drew and return kicks.

Karim, ironically, went to high school with the player that was the very first selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, Oklahoma University quarterback Sam Bradford. But Karim’s college football accomplishments at a smaller school proved more difficult to display to scouts. In fact, he was not even invited to the NFL’s national scouting combine in February. So, he instead secured an invitation to perform an individual workout for scouts on the campus of Northwestern University in Chicago. That is where he dazzled scouts with workout numbers that were in the top 5 of all running backs in the draft.

Now Deji Karim awaits mini-camp later this month, followed by training camp this summer. He may be a kitten amongst Jaguars for now, but he will continue to seek out every opportunity to roar.

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Omar Khan, Football Executive

January 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

3D23 Omar Khan is the Business & Football Administration Coordinator of Pittsburgh’s Steelers. A well respected executive he is currently being interviewed by the Seahawks for the general manager vacancy.

Khan has the title of Business and Football Administration Coordinator and handles the salary cap and negotiations for the Steelers.

Khan, 32, is the child of immigrant parents. His father was born in India and his mother in Honduras.  A keen sports enthusiast from his high school days Khan earned a degree in Sports Management with a minor in Business Administration from Tulane University.

As a student, Khan worked in the Tulane football office filming practices and games and making travel arrangements. He filled a similar capacity during an internship with the New Orleans Saintswhile he was still in school. Once he graduated in 1998, he was brought on in a full-time role by the Saints. He worked his way up the ladder in New Orleans by doing anything that was asked of him.

In 2001 he was hired by the Steelers and has served as their chief contract negotiator and capologist, replacing Dan Ferens.  In that role he has helped to assemble two Super Bowl winners.

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