Jude Bellingham will join Real Madrid from Borussia Dortmund for 103 million Euros, the German club announced on Wednesday.
Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash at the French Open on Tuesday. Aryna Sabalenka condemened Belarus’s role in the Ukraine war after beating Ukrainian Elina Svitolina in the quarter-final.
Karim Benzema on Tuesday joined Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad on a three-year deal after leaving Real Madrid.
The PGA Tour announced a shock merger with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit ending a two-year civil war in golf.
Here’s a look at the key stories from international sporting events through the day for June 7, 2023:
Bellingham to join Real Madrid
English teenager Jude Bellingham will move from Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid for a fee in excess of 100 million euros ($107 million), the German side announced on Wednesday.
Dortmund confirmed the two teams had reached a “mutual agreement” over the transfer of the 19-year-old in the summer.
The publicly listed club said it would receive a fee of 103 million euros in addition to a variable amount “up to a maximum total amount of around 30 percent” of the fixed transfer fee, depending on team and player bonuses.
One of the most promising talents in world football, Bellingham joined Dortmund from Birmingham City in 2020 for a fee of 25 million euros.
He has played 132 games for the club, scoring 24 goals and winning the 2021 German Cup.
Bellingham was named Bundesliga player of the season after the 2022-23 campaign, when he helped Dortmund to within an inch of their first Bundesliga title in over a decade.
Dortmund finished second, behind Bayern Munich, on goal difference after dropping points on the final matchday against Mainz, where the injured Bellingham watched from the bench.
Alcaraz sets up Djokovic French Open clash
Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will square off in a blockbuster French Open semi-final, while Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka condemned outright her country’s role in the Ukraine war on Tuesday after reaching the last four at Roland Garros.
Djokovic, chasing a third French Open crown and record 23rd men’s Grand Slam singles title, recovered from dropping his first set of the tournament to defeat 11th seed Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-6 (7/0), 6-2, 6-4.
The 36-year-old Serb is in his 12th Roland Garros semi-final – his 45th at the majors – and faces Alcaraz for a place in the final after the world number one thrashed 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets.
Alcaraz once more showed why he is the favourite with a convincing 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) victory over Greek fifth seed Tsitsipas in the night session, easily navigating his stiffest challenge to date.
The 20-year-old Spaniard has won all five meetings with Tsitsipas and becomes the youngest Roland Garros semi-finalist since Djokovic in 2007.
The war in Ukraine came into sharp focus again as Sabalenka ended Elina Svitolina’s surprise run in the highest-profile match between two players whose countries are on opposing sides of the conflict.
Sabalenka won a politically-charged encounter 6-4, 6-4 to extend her Grand Slam winning streak to 12 matches following her first major title at the Australian Open in January.
Svitolina was booed by the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier after refusing to shake hands, a common practice now in the sport when a Ukrainian player meets a Russian or Belarusian opponent.
After boycotting her past two press conferences, Sabalenka insisted she is not a supporter of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a key military ally of Moscow.
Sabalenka has now reached the last four at each of the Grand Slams and will face 43rd-ranked Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic for a place in Saturday’s final.
The unseeded Muchova matched her best run at a major by knocking out 2021 finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-2 to reach the last four at Roland Garros for the first time.
Benzema signs for Al-Ittihad
Real Madrid’s Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema will join Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia after signing a three-year deal with Al-Ittihad, the Jeddah-based club confirmed on Tuesday.
“Benzema is here. A new tiger will roar. Welcome to Ittihad!,” the club wrote on Twitter.
Benzema will join his former Real Madrid teammate Ronaldo in the Gulf kingdom after the five-time world player of the year moved to Al Nassr from Manchester United following last year’s World Cup.
Lionel Messi, who is leaving Paris Saint-Germain after two seasons, has also been linked with a move to Saudi Arabia.
Senior officials from another Saudi Arabian club, Al Hilal, have flown to France to try and seal a deal for Messi after the 35-year-old Argentinian played his last game for PSG at the weekend, two sources with knowledge of the matter told AFP on Sunday.
The Saudi delegation plans to meet Messi’s father and agent, Jorge, with the aiming of completing the signing as soon as possible.
Saudi Arabia has drawn up a list of more than 10 players who have won either the Champions League or the World Cup that it wants to lure to its league, a source close to the negotiations has told AFP.
The list includes Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric, Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and his France teammate N’Golo Kante. All are at the tail-end of their careers.
The world’s biggest oil producer has ambitions to host the World Cup in 2030 or 2034 and is betting on sport to help revamp its austere image, which has earned accusations from rights groups that it is “sportswashing”.
PGA Tour, LIV Golf merge
The PGA Tour announced a shock merger with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit on Tuesday, rocking the golfing world with a bombshell deal aimed at ending the sport’s bitter two-year civil war.
In a stunning agreement that took the sport completely by surprise, the US-based PGA Tour and Europe’s DP World Tour said they had signed an agreement with LIV’s Saudi backers that will lead to the formation of “a new collectively owned, for-profit entity.”
“After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love,” said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.
LIV Golf was launched in October 2021 and lured top PGA Tour talent with record $25 million purses and money guarantees, bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). Critics said LIV was conceived by the kingdom as a “sportswashing” exercise designed to improve Saudi Arabia’s international image, battered after the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The PGA Tour responded by banning LIV players while the DP World Tour has handed out heavy fines to its players.
The merger was given swift backing by six-time major winner Phil Mickelson, the most prominent of the defectors to the LIV Tour.
But PGA Tour players were caught cold by the announcement, before later accusing Monahan of “hypocrisy” for joining forces with LIV after spending much of the past year urging players to resist the riches on offer.
US media reported that Monahan was confronted by furious players at a meeting in Toronto on Tuesday ahead of this week’s Canadian Open.
In Washington, a group representing the families of victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks also accused Monahan and the PGA Tour of “hypocrisy and greed.”
The name of the new merged entity and the precise structure of the tours has yet to be announced, but the PGA Tour said that the parties had agreed to “establish a fair and objective process for any players who desire to re-apply for membership with the PGA Tour or the DP World Tour following the completion of the 2023 season”.
The Board of Directors of the new commercial entity will have the Saudi PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan as chairman and Monahan as Chief Executive Officer.
There was noticeably no mention of LIV chief executive Greg Norman in the statements. Norman’s combative approach to the conflict had seen him recently snubbed by Augusta National who did not offer him an invite to April’s Masters tournament.
In November, McIlroy, who was the most prominent backer of the PGA Tour amongst the players, said that Norman was an obstacle to any deal between the two parties.
It was unclear if the announcement would impact LIV’s current season. The tour’s next event is on June 30 at Valderrama in Spain. The PGA Tour statement said that the team element, introduced by LIV, would be part of the future plans.
With text inputs from AFP
Updated through the day