Saudi Professional League ranks third worldwide for Twitter interaction

David Cooper 21/08/2019
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Defending Saudi Professional League champions Al Nassr (Twitter/@AlNassrFC_EN).

The Saudi Professional League [SPL] ranks third on Twitter among global football leagues for conversation and interaction, surpassing major domestic competitions worldwide last season that include the Italian, German and French ones.

The league has attracted huge interest with tweets about the SPL exceeding 80 million, tweeted by 40m accounts and causing high response demonstrating the power of the competition compared to the best globally. Spain’s La Liga and its clubs lead the way being tweeted about 167m times by 97m accounts, followed by the English Premier League with 161m tweets and 91m accounts.

Football in Saudi Arabia is the most popular sport and is being followed by two thirds of the Kingdom’s population, mostly young people, which resulted in huge interaction making the domestic league among the most followed worldwide. This is also reflected by stadium attendances which exceeded 10m supporters for the first time ever last season.

The SPL has been supported massively by the government through the Sport General Authority investing $660m. This reflects a desire to create new professional levels, improve pitches and recruit the best players and managers globally, while also implementing the best technological methods in sports.

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Captain Ashley Williams left out of Wales squad

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Wales captain Ashley Williams has been left out for the squad for the crunch Euro 2020 qualifier against Azerbaijan next month.

Williams, who turns 35 on Friday, is the third most capped Wales player of all time with only Chris Gunter (95) and Neville Southall (92) having made more than his 86 appearances.

But the veteran centre-half, who made his name at Swansea and spent last season on loan at Stoke, has been without a club since being released by Everton in June.

The PA news agency understands Williams has turned down offers from Greece, Turkey, the Middle East and the United States because he wants to continue playing in British football.

Bristol City could complete a move for Williams this week, but Wales manager Ryan Giggs has opted to name a 26-man squad without the player who captained his country against Hungary two months ago.

Aaron Ramsey and Ethan Ampadu both return after the injuries which ruled them out of the Euro 2020 qualifying defeats to Croatia and Hungary in June.

Former Arsenal midfielder Ramsey made his debut for new club Juventus in a friendly last weekend, while Ampadu has moved to Germany this summer after joining RB Leipzig from Chelsea on a season-long loan.

Bournemouth forward David Brooks is sidelined and will also miss the October qualifiers against Croatia and Slovakia after undergoing ankle surgery earlier this month.

But Giggs is boosted by the availability of talisman Gareth Bale, who is suddenly back in favour at Real Madrid after a public fall-out with manager Zinedine Zidane and an aborted move to the Chinese Super League.

Bale started Real’s first league game of the season last weekend and claimed an assist in the 3-1 win at Celta Vigo.

The 30-year-old’s influence is sure to be key if Wales are to keep their Euro 2020 qualification hopes alive.

Wales are six points behind leaders Group E leaders Hungary, albeit with a game in hand, and three adrift of Croatia and Slovakia ahead of Azerbaijan’s visit on September 6.

Three uncapped players – Swansea defender Joe Rodon, Bristol City midfielder Joe Morrell and Wigan striker Kieffer Moore – are included in a squad that also takes on Belarus in a Cardiff friendly on September 9.

There is no place for Newcastle defender Paul Dummett or Schalke’s former Manchester City winger Rabbi Matondo.

Wales squad: Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Danny Ward (Leicester), Adam Davies (Stoke), Connor Roberts (Swansea), Chris Gunter (Reading), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), James Lawrence (Anderlecht), Tom Lockyer (Charlton), Joe Rodon (Swansea), Neil Taylor (Aston Villa), Ben Davies (Tottenham), Ethan Ampadu (RB Leipzig, on loan from Chelsea), Joe Allen (Stoke), Matthew Smith (QPR, on loan from Manchester City), Will Vaulks (Cardiff), Jonny Williams (Charlton), Aaron Ramsey (Juventus), Joe Morrell (Lincoln, on loan from Bristol City), Harry Wilson (Bournemouth, on loan from Liverpool), Daniel James (Manchester United), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Sam Vokes (Stoke), Tom Lawrence (Derby), Ben Woodburn (Oxford, on loan from Liverpool), Kieffer Moore (Wigan), Ryan Hedges (Aberdeen).

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Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga leads the way among African stars to shine across Europe

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A masterclass in midfield from the 16-year-old against PSG.

Angolan 16-year-old Eduardo Camavinga, who practised judo as a child, was the African star in Europe at the weekend, helping Rennes shock star-stacked Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in the French Ligue 1.

Born in the oil-rich enclave of Cabinda, he is already being compared to PSG star Kylian Mbappe despite only 10 senior appearances for Rennes.

He debuted in Ligue 1 toward the end of last season and coach Julien Stephan says “he is confirming all the talent we think he has at the start of this season”.

ENGLAND

SADIO MANE (Liverpool)

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane

The Senegalese was in sublime form on his return to Southampton with a goal and an assist as Liverpool won 2-1. Mane masked a poor first-half performance from the European champions by curling into the top corner in stoppage time before the break. He then turned provider for Roberto Firmino to score the visitors’ second.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Arsenal)

The Gabonese international was Arsenal’s match winner for the second weekend in a row, scoring the vital goal in a 2-1 win over Burnley. It was Aubameyang’s seventh goal in four league appearances against Burnley — four more than he has managed against any other club since joining from Borussia Dortmund.

WILFRED NDIDI (Leicester)

The Nigerian international went through a rollercoaster of emotions in Leicester’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea with a huge hand in both goals. Ndidi gifted the opener to Mason Mount as he was caught in possession on the edge of his own box, but bounced back in style with a thumping header 23 minutes from time to atone for that error.

Wilfred Ndidi

SPAIN

SAMUEL CHUKWUEZE (Villarreal)

Chukwueze scored his first goal of the season but could not combine it with a victory as Villarreal drew 4-4 with promoted Granada. The Nigerian put Villarreal 4-2 up at home in the second half, driving forward and curling a shot into the corner. But Granada scored twice in the last 15 minutes to ensure a thrilling contest ended all square. Chukwueze scored eight La Liga goals last season.

GERMANY

JAMILU COLLINS (Paderborn)

Nigerian international Collins made his first appearance in the Bundesliga with promoted Paderborn, who went down fighting as they twice equalised in a 3-2 defeat at Champions League qualifiers Bayer Leverkusen.

ISHAK BELFODIL (Hoffenheim)

Back after a knee injury ruled him out of Algeria’s Africa Cup of Nations-winning campaign, Belfodil’s entry on 71 minutes coincided with Hoffenheim’s sharpest period in attack during a 1-0 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt. He headed wide when unmarked in front of goal and had a stoppage-time goal ruled out for offside.

A lively display from Belfodil.

A lively display from Belfodil.

ANTHONY UJAH (Union Berlin)

The Nigerian forward brought some much-needed experience to Union as the club played their first game in the German top division, which ended in a 4-0 home loss to RB Leipzig. Ujah came off the bench at half-time and went close to scoring Berlin’s first Bundesliga goal late in the second half.

FRANCE

EDUARDO CAMAVINGA (Rennes)

The Angolan teenager was influential as his side shocked French champions Paris Saint-Germain 2-1. The midfielder set up the winner in Brittany and missed a good chance to claim a late third goal for Rennes.

HABIB DIALLO (Metz)

The Senegalese striker continued his fine start to life back in Ligue 1 with a double in Metz’s 3-0 drubbing of 10-man Monaco. The 24-year-old scored 26 goals last season to lead Metz to promotion and has already netted three times in two games in the top flight.

IGNATIUS GANAGO (Nice)

The Cameroonian youngster turned in what proved to be the winner with his knee in the first half as Nice edged to a 2-1 victory at Nimes in a match which saw three men sent off. The 20-year-old scored twice last season in just nine starts.

Provided by Press Association Sports

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