MENA Sports Wrap: Gaza comes to the Euros as Turkey progress

MENA Sports Wrap: Gaza comes to the Euros as Turkey progress
Turkey have reached the knock-out stages of the Euros for the first time in 16-years, while Gaza was seen at the championship in Germany this week.
4 min read
28 June, 2024
There's been another week of action in the Arab world this month [Getty/TNA]

The Euros have reached the knock-out stage with Turkey among the teams hoping to go all the way to the finals, as pro-Palestinian activists handed out 'watermelon caps' in solidarity with Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Pro League has seen the signing of one of Real Madrid's biggest names, while Ons Jabeur is ready to represent the Arab world at Wimbledon this summer.

Turkey edge into Euros last 16 with tense win over Czechs

Turkey reached the knockout phase at a major tournament for the first time in 16 years with a bad-tempered 2-1 win over 10-man Czech Republic at Euro 2024 on Wednesday.

Vincenzo Montella's Turkey finished second in Group F behind Portugal to progress through the group stages, as the Czechs were eliminated despite a brave performance on a sweltering night in Hamburg.

Georgia also went through as one of the best third-placed teams with a stunning 2-0 win over Portugal in the group's other final game, eliminating Hungary.

Turkey will face Austria in the last 16 in Leipzig on Tuesday, their first major tournament knockout match since their Euro 2008 semi-finals when they were beaten by Germany.

Football fans in Germany given a piece of Gaza

Football fans in Germany were given caps adorned with images of watermelons as a gesture of solidarity with Palestine before several UEFA Euro 2024 group matches this week.

The caps were handed out before the Spain v Italy match on 20 June in Gelsenkirchen, the Turkey vs. Portugal game on 22 June in Dortmund, and the Scotland vs. Hungary match on Sunday in Stuttgart.

The watermelon design was chosen because the fruit's colours resemble the Palestinian flag.

"We want to make our voice heard here about the (Israeli) oppression committed against our Palestinian brothers," one of the sponsors of the voluntary event in Germany, Mehmet Simsek, said to Anadolu.

"It is impossible to turn a blind eye to this genocide (against Palestinians). The people who commit this genocide (in Gaza), have faced genocide in the past. Now they (Israel) are committing it," he added.

However, Simsek said the German police prevented the volunteers from the distribution of the solidarity caps in Gelsenkirchen.

"Nearly 50,000 caps were produced. We wanted to hand out these caps here, but it was not allowed by police," Simsek added

Despite this, the caps were a hit with Turkish fans in Dortmund, with many seen wearing them at the match.

The same was true of Scottish fans in Stuttgart, with donning the caps before their 1-0 loss to Hungary.

Nacho heading for Saudi Pro League

Spanish star José Ignacio Fernández Iglesias, better known as Nacho, has finished his career-long spell at Real Madrid and is set for a move to Saudi Arabia.

Nacho played 242 games for Real Madrid between 2011 and 2024, and is currently in Germany representing Spain in the Euros.

The 34-year-old had been heavily linked to Saudi giant Al-Ittihad, who boast stars such as Karim Benzema, but was announced as a signing for the relative minnows from the eastern city of Al-Khobar, Al-Qadsiah.

Nacho is another experienced, big-name signing for the Saudi Pro League, which boasts veterans such as Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar.

Yet Saudi clubs have also been linked to youngster players with Al-Hilal mulling an offer for Manchester United wonder kid Alejandro Garnacho.

Although it's highly unlikely the Argentinian winger would make the move to Saudi Arabia, we'll keep you updated on all the other transfer news this summer.

Ons Jabeur relishes Wimbledon challenge

Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur is all set for Wimbledon, which takes place this weekend in the UK capital.

Jabeur has become a fans' favourite at Wimbledon for years with the whole crowd getting behind the star last year when she played, and lost to, Markéta Vondroušová in the final.

The love seems to be mutual with Jabeur telling Sky News that she is relishing the opportunity to get back onto the lawn in South London.

"I think it's going to be a tough moment coming back, but also a nice moment. The last time I walked off the court at Wimbledon, it was really sad and I was really crying, so I hope I don't get those memories back," she said.

"But I'm really looking forward to playing at Wimbledon. It's one of those places which is my own paradise."

She said she has been overwhelmed by the love of the Wimbledon crowd and is hoping for success again this year.

"I don't know [why her connection with British fans is so strong]. Maybe they like my energy, they like everything I share with them. I feel like it's a really honest relationship with the crowd. I'm loving it, and I love it every day," she said.

"I really feel supported and respected here [in Britain], and all I can do is really give them good energy."

We'll keep you updated on Jabeur's progress through the championship, which we hope will be another good run.