Tag Archives: demonstrations

Steve Kean and Venky"s going nowhere as Hunt crisis gets worse

We're going nowhere! Kean and Venky's staying put as confusion grows over Hunt sacking

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UPDATED:

14:38 GMT, 9 May 2012

The ever-more unpopular Blackburn manager Steve Kean dug his heels in on his position, stating he is at the club 'for the long term' whether fans like it or not.

Blackburn were relegated from the Premier League after losing to Wigan 1-0 on Monday at Ewood Park, and their dreadful season took another miserable turn with the sacking of deputy chief executive Paul Hunt on Wednesday.

Going nowhere: Despite long-running calls for his dismissal, Steve Kean says he is staying at Blackburn 'for the long term'

Going nowhere: Despite long-running calls for his dismissal, Steve Kean says he is staying at Blackburn 'for the long term'

A letter written by Hunt addressed to Venky's, the Indian chicken magnates who own the club, warning of Blackburn's impending financial woes and requesting the sacking of Kean.

Kean said he has spoken to the owners of the club, but refused to discuss the Hunt situation.

'I am aware of the speculation but I can't, at this moment, confirm it. That is all I want to say on that matter'

Both Kean and Venky's are hugely unpopular with the Blackburn faithful, both being the subject of fans' demonstrations demanding their departures.

But Kean moved to quash any speculation that either he or the owners would leave Ewood Park in the near future.

Enough: Blackburn fans have been protesting for Kean's dismissal for much of the season

Enough: Blackburn fans have been protesting for Kean's dismissal for much of the season

'We have taken a massive backward step but we have to look forward and make sure we can get back at the first time of asking,' the Scot said.

'The owners are not going anywhere, I'm not going anywhere.'

When asked if Venky's were the right owners for the club, he said: “100 per cent”

Dejected: Blackburn were relegated after they lost 1-0 to fellow relegation strugglers Wigan on Monday

Dejected: Blackburn were relegated after they lost 1-0 to fellow relegation strugglers Wigan on Monday

Kean also stated that rebuilding the squad was already under way to get back into the top-flight next season.

He said: 'We are very numb. We have taken a step backwards but we now have to prepare a squad and the process has already started.

'I have spoken at great lengths with the owners and now we have to assemble a squad that is a very competitive squad.'

To add to Kean's woes, the Hunt fiasco seems to be getting worse, with confusion rife at the club and no one being able to comment on the matter.

Defiance: A disgruntled supporter throws his season ticket near Kean in protest to his and Venky's tenure Blackburn

Defiance: A disgruntled supporter throws his season ticket near Kean in protest to his and Venky's tenure Blackburn

Hunt was the most senior executive based in the UK, and his letter was reflective of the mood around Ewood Park.

Hunt wrote of Kean: 'He has lost the crowd and as a result of this evening's game has lost the dressing room as well – the players no longer want to play for him.

'It is a shame and disappointing but we must act now to save the club.'

It is unknown whether Hunt received a reply but few of the recommendations in his 2,500-word letter were acted upon.

Steve Kean's side face Chelsea on Sunday on the final day of the season, but three points can not save them from the drop after their devastating home loss to Wigan.

Shay Given calls for Aston Villa unity

Shay's plea for Villa unity before tricky Tottenham encounter

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UPDATED:

21:41 GMT, 29 April 2012

Alex McLeish’s players have made a plea for unity ahead of their crunch Villa Park clash with Tottenham.

So far this season, any public disquiet at McLeish’s reign has seen a few dozen disgruntled fans make their feelings clear on matchdays.

However, following the poisonous scenes at Villa Park in the wake of the home defeat by Bolton, Sunday’s game with Spurs could see far more vociferous demonstrations.

Plea: Shay Given wants a better atmosphere around the club

Plea: Shay Given wants a better atmosphere around the club

And, after a battling draw with local rivals Albion, both keeper Shay Given and defender Alan Hutton were keen to make their point.

‘Whatever their thoughts, the most important thing is that Aston Villa stay in the Premier League,’ said Given.

‘Of course, they were disappointed last Tuesday. We all were. It is important we stick together.

‘It’s not about the manager. It’s about the players. About Aston Villa as a club.’

Hutton added: ‘We know they are disappointed, but if they could put that to one side and get behind us for what is a huge game, it would be a massive help. It does give you a lift to have the crowd totally behind you, especially at such a big stadium as Villa Park.’

It was Given who produced a stunning stop in the dying seconds to prevent Peter Odemwingie snatching a win for Albion. ‘That’s what good goalkeepers do,’ said McLeish.

‘And for me Shay would rank among the best ever. I wouldn’t want to be as dramatic as to say it has saved us, but to lose in the last minute would have been utterly depressing.’

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Bahrain Grand Prix: Warning over "casualties"

F1 chiefs warned of 'casualties' ahead of controversial Bahrain Grand Prix

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UPDATED:

13:46 GMT, 17 April 2012

A former leading Bahraini politician
has claimed there are 'fears we could see some casualties' during the
course of this weekend's Formula One Grand Prix.

Economist Jasim Husain represented
the primary opposition group, Al-Wefaq, for five years prior to
resigning in protest following the anti-government demonstrations that
rocked the country last year.

Volatile: Protesters clash with police in Bahrain

Volatile: Protesters clash with police in Bahrain

Husain did so, along with 17 others, in the hope of pressing the authorities to seek solutions to the issues currently dividing the kingdom.

However, 14 months on from the 'Day of Rage' that resulted in the deaths of many protesters, such reforms appear too slow in coming given the publication of a 58-page report into Bahrain by Amnesty International.

The leading human rights organisation insist “not much has changed in the country since the brutal crackdown” last year.

Given the daily clashes between police and protesters, there are concerns the latter will use F1's arrival and its global reach to ram home their message.

Although the majority demonstrate peacefully, there are groups such as the Coalition Youth of the 14 Feb Revolution who have said 'three days of anger' will occur this weekend.

Husein says one serious incident would be 'very likely' to hit F1's presence hard in Bahrain, and it is up to the authorities to ensure they do not over-react.

Green light: FIA president Jean Todt confident Bahrain race will go-ahead

Green light: FIA president Jean Todt confident Bahrain race will go-ahead

Husein, insisting his views are his own and not that of Al-Wefaq, said:
“I don't see lots of protests throughout the country, especially outside
the vicinity of the racing area.

'But yes, there is this fear, the fear is there that we could see some casualties.

'So it's now a challenge for the security forces who have to handle things properly. They should avoid using force.

'Of course, people should be free to express their views, but the
responsibility is with the authorities who have to show professionalism
in managing any protest.

'The good thing is people are peaceful, protesters are peaceful, that
violence is not really any particular part of the political challenge in
the country.

'But things have to be handled properly by the authorities.'

F1's rulers have naturally been eager to distance themselves from the
political or moral argument, although there is the suggestion it is
being used as a tool for the former.

Campaigners are set to step up the protests

Concern: Anti-government protesters are expected to step up their campaign

Given the daily protests against the ruling Bahraini regime, operating
under the slogan 'UniF1ed – One Nation in Celebration' would appear to
underline F1's significance when it comes to purporting all is well,
when it is far from the case.

Instead, FIA president Jean Todt asserts his organisation 'are only
interested in sport not politics', with Husein believing it wrong F1 is
portrayed as being in support of the ruling al-Khalifa royal family.

'That's the problem really. It should not be presented this way,” said Husein.

'F1 is a sport, an economic positive, and I hope neither side will see the race as a political tool.

'We do have political issues which have to be addressed, and F1 coming or not coming does not mean those problems will go away.

'But certainly this is not a political event and should not have political implications.

'However, we are suffering from this problem because it is being presented this way.

'People are simply pressing for democratic reforms, and ensuring there
is equal opportunity for all, to have real participation in decision
making.

Race must go on: F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone says Bahrain GP will go ahead

Race must go on: F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone says Bahrain GP will go ahead

One unnamed protester, however, believes F1 does Bahrain no favours as
he said: 'People here are getting killed, and with F1 here we feel like
they are driving on our blood, on our bodies.'

Further demonstrations are due to take place over the next few days,
with one in particular today on the doorstep of the Gulf kingdom's
international airport.

It is understood the focus will not only solely centre on pro-democracy rights, but also anti-F1.

On Wednesday, when most F1 personnel are due to arrive, what has been
described by a risk assessment group as “a vehicular rally” is to take
place along the two highways that lead up to the airport.
end

Bahrain F1 chief allays fears over troubled grand prix

There are idiots everywhere in the world… should we stop the Olympics Bahrain chief allays fears over troubled grand prix

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UPDATED:

11:39 GMT, 16 April 2012

Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed R Alzayani has admitted to taking 'a calculated decision' with regard to the staging of this year's grand prix.

The eyes of the world are on Bahrain this week as the countdown continues in earnest to its return on the Formula One calendar this weekend.

A week ago seven policeman were
injured, three seriously, by a petrol bomb, while a funeral march on
Friday resulted in three teenagers being shot as police attempted to
disperse the more volatile demonstrators.

March: The eyes of the sporting world are on Bahrain this week

March: The eyes of the sporting world are on Bahrain this week

However, Alzayani said: 'It could happen in any country in the world.

'Why is it any different here Look at what happened in London when we had a guy jump into the Thames and stop the Boat Race.

'Do you want to tell me there is no threat on the Olympics in London Should we should stop the Olympics

'What's the difference There are idiots everywhere in the world. Does that mean we just sit at home and lock ourselves up

Patrol: The race is scheduled to take place in Bahrain this weekend

Patrol: The race is scheduled to take place in Bahrain this weekend

'So let's have the event, I'm sure it will be a good event, a safe event.

'I
can assure you most of the people who are hesitant or reluctant about
Bahrain will change their perception within the first day of being here.

'We've seen it, and
people who have already been to Bahrain and were worried and everything
like that, they left with a different perception.'

Alzayani has long preached confidence the race will pass without a hitch, however, there are several demonstrations and protests planned this week ahead of the event.

One in particular has been described by a risk assessment group as 'a vehicular rally' due to take place along two of the main highways that lead up to the airport on Wednesday, when most F1 personnel are due to arrive.

“Freedom or death”: The F1 community are wary of their venture into Bahrain

Today's arrival into Bahrain was peaceful enough with GP staff on hand at the airport, including a cameraman and photographer to catch the arrival of their first F1 guests.

That included drivers in Williams' Bruno Senna, Sergio Perez from Sauber, along with two reserves in Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi and Jerome D'Ambrosio from Lotus.

Appreciably there are plenty of posters and banners promoting the race, most notably on lamp posts leading away from the airport, one especially counting down the days to Friday's first practice.

But given the potential for disruption, Alzayani does not believe the future of the race is at stake.

Winner: Rosberg claimed his first grand prix victory in China on Sunday

Winner: Rosberg claimed his first grand prix victory in China on Sunday

'We've been in Formula One for seven years and we will be in it for much longer than that,' Alzayani added.

'We wouldn't take a decision on a gamble. But it's a calculated decision, we've weighed up our options and we are committed to the grand prix and to its success.

Phil Duncan F1 blog

'I don't think anything drastic will happen. It's not Syria or Afghanistan. I don't see why anything should happen this year that hasn't happened in the previous years.

'I don't see any benefit for anyone personally attacking the media or the teams or anything.

'Even those who are protesting weaken their message if they do so. Why would you go and attack the media

Making his point: Zayed Alzayani has admitted to taking 'a calculated decision'

Making his point: Zayed Alzayani has admitted to taking 'a calculated decision'

'I think they will probably look out for the media to try and get their message abroad, which is fine. Let them express their opinion.'

It is a question, however, of how forcefully that opinion is expressed and whether any protester goes above and beyond to do so.

Alzayani feels F1's visit will allay some of the myths that have been perpetrated in the run-up to the race, although appreciates problems do exist that cast a shadow over the race and Bahrain.

'Will this year be exactly like it was in the past years No,' said Alzayani.

'We know that for a fact and I'd be lying if I sat down and told you it would be the same and eveything's normal.

'The country has gone through a tough year, we are still wounded in some aspects or another, and we are on the way to regaining our health.

'But the race will be positive to the country, positive to the economy which has suffered a lot in the last year and a half, and it will put things in perspective.

'A lot of the damage that has happened to Bahrain post the events of last year have been driven by perception, by people not necessarily writing what they see or hear.

'For us, we will be happy for the teams and the journalists and the media to come to Bahrain and see it and then write about it.

'Things are not 100 per cent, but they are not as bad as people make them out to be.'

Protest planned in build-up to controversial Bahrain Grand Prix

Protest planned in build-up to controversial Bahrain Grand Prix

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UPDATED:

21:59 GMT, 15 April 2012

Bahrain’s Shiite opposition announced a week of daily pro-democracy protests in the Gulf kingdom in the build-up to the controversial grand prix scheduled for Sunday.

Al-Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest Shiite bloc, plans sit-ins and demonstrations under the banner ‘steadfastness and challenge’. Al-Wefaq said there are no plans for protests near the Sakhir circuit where the race will be held.

The race will go on: F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone says the Bahrain GP will go ahead

The race will go on: F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone says the Bahrain GP will go ahead

However, the ‘Revolution of February 14’ youth group has called for ‘three days of rage’ from April 20 to 22.

F1 governing body the FIA and commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone say the race definitely goes ahead.

Webber wants to race but admits concerns as decision looms for Bahrain GP

Webber wants to race but admits concerns as decision looms for Bahrain GP

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UPDATED:

17:18 GMT, 12 April 2012

Mark Webber announced 'I want to race' on a day when many of his peers shied away from addressing the thorny issue of Bahrain.

Last year, following the anti-government demonstrations in which a number of protesters were killed, Webber was the only driver to stick his head above the parapet and declare the sport should not stage a race in the Gulf kingdom.

Now, with this season's event just over a week away and as doubts rage as to the morality and safety of going to Bahrain, 35-year-old Webber has admitted concerns linger behind the scenes.

'I have tried to watch the news to get the most balanced view that I can possibly get without getting too corrupted by false information,' said Webber ahead of this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

Lingering concerns: Webber

Lingering concerns: Webber

'It has been a little quieter, but this is Mark Webber sitting here – I have as much information as anyone else.

'If we had a choice would we go I want to race. That is what I would like to go there and do.

'But saying that you cannot ignore the fact that all of us, in the backs of our minds, want it to go down smoothly and don't want it to be involved in the unrest.

'We want the people out there to support our race. That is why it is so sensitive.'

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was adamant the race would go ahead, unless there was a late call-off by local organisers.

'It's another race on the calendar, it's scheduled,' said the 81-year-old.

'The only people that can do anything about it is the National Sporting Authority in the country.

'They can ask for it to be withdrawn from the calendar. Unless it gets withdrawn by them, then we'll be there.'

Countdown to the decision: Webber is in the dark as to whether Bahrain will go ahead

Countdown to the decision: Webber is in the dark as to whether Bahrain will go ahead

Ecclestone is due to speak with the team principals tomorrow and FIA president Jean Todt on Saturday upon his arrival from Taiwan, with a definitive answer due following that.

Webber has admitted he would not want to be in Todt's shoes given all eyes are now on the Frenchman and the FIA for guidance.

'It is now a difficult decision because we are one week away,' added Webber.

'But from January to here what has happened to make that decision harder

'Obviously the date has got nearer and you get more nervous. It is more topical.

'So there is a lot more pressure involved in the decision-making process and it's on the FIA, as the teams and Bernie have stated.

'But we need to trust the people making the decision, that they know how these people (the protesters) are going to operate.

'That's what it boils down to at the end of the day. You and I don't know how they operate. That is what we're going to find out.'

Webber concedes that absolute safety cannot be guaranteed, not when a certain protest group has vowed to disrupt the race.

Asked if the team had organised additional security, Webber said: 'There are measures in place, yes. There is added security.

'I accept not everyone can have that, and that doesn't make me feel comfortable. But let's hope it's complete overkill and we have no problems.'

Contrast Webber's responses to that of team-mate Sebastian Vettel who claimed he had not seen images or tv footage of anything in Bahrain for a year.

Most drivers opted to hide behind their teams or the FIA, saying they would be guided by either or both, offering sanitised responses even when pushed for a personal view.

As for the six drivers in the FIA press conference – Fernando Alonso, Paul di Resta, Vitaly Petrov, Bruno Senna, Sergio Perez and Narain Karthiekyan – there was stony silence when asked if they had moral difficulty in going to Bahrain.

The only other driver to offer his considered thoughts was Jenson Button who has called for the sport to portray a unified front.

'We have to stay united as Formula One because to say teams can make their own decisions is wrong,' said Button.

'We're racing in the championship, so if one team doesn't go it is 25 points lost, which is massive.

'So Formula One staying as one and united is very important, but the decision needs to be made by the FIA and I totally trust they'll make the right decision.'

Bahrain Grand Prix tickets on sale for 2012 F1 race

Bahrain tickets on sale as promoters push ahead with under-fire grand prix

Bahrain Grand Prix officials have started selling tickets for this season's Formula One race in the Gulf Kingdom.

The sale began on Sunday, and is the latest sign the government is determined to hold the grand prix despite ongoing protests.

UniF1ed: Bahrain officials announced the sale of tickets on Sunday

UniF1ed: Bahrain officials announced the sale of tickets on Sunday

Along with the ticket launch, officials announced this year's slogan: “UniF1ed-One Nation in Celebration”.

Bahrain's season-opening race last year was canceled because of the unrest.

This year's race is scheduled for April 22 and the FIA, the sport's governing body, have insisted the event will go ahead.

Trouble: The Gulf Kingdom has been the subject of a mass demonstrations in recent weeks

Trouble: The Gulf Kingdom has been the subject of a mass demonstrations in recent weeks

There have been lingering doubts, though, over the viability of holding the race, given the continued political unrest that has paralysed parts of the capital Manama.

At least 40 people have died in the Shiite-led demonstrations which have targeted the Sunni rulers.