Kevin de Bruyne has blasted the new handball rules brought in this summer after Manchester City were yet again denied a last-minute winner against Tottenham by VAR on Saturday.City thoroughly outplayed Spurs throughout the game and thought they had won it in injury time as Gabriel Jesus curled in a close-range finish after a scramble in the penalty area following a corner.But the goal was eventually disallowed after Aymeric Laporte was shown to have handled in the build-up, leaving the game drawn at 2-2. Under the new rules, any handling in the lead-up to a goal means the goal cannot stand, whether it would be given as a handball in regular play or otherwise – but if the ball had also brushed a defender’s hand, a penalty would not have been given. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? “They made this rule, it’s new,” De Bruyne told the Telegraph. “When I saw the video [of the incident], it’s impossible [for Laporte] to take his arm away. What can he do? Should he chop his arm off and play without it?“There’s nothing he can do because Nico [Otamendi] is ten centimetres in front of him and trying to head the ball. You can’t react in that space and amount of time. So make it clear – handball both sides.”While rival fans revelled in the drama on social media, City’s bewilderment was compounded by the realisation that the Spurs goal that put them out of last year’s Champions League would not have stood under the new rules.Before City’s last-gasp ‘winner’ was shown to be offside by VAR, Fernando Llorente accidentally handled before scoring the vital away goal that eventually took Spurs through. It wasn’t enough to disallow the goal at the time, but would be if it happened in a game this season.Pep Guardiola has expressed his exasperation at VAR’s perceived inconsistency, after record signing Rodri was floored inside the area in the first half. City were adamant it should have been a penalty, but the match referee didn’t look at the incident again.The new handball rule, however, has been under closer scrutiny after this game and Bernardo Silva had similar thoughts to De Bruyne.“It is never easy when you score a last-minute goal and it is disallowed, especially because last season we went out of the Champions League because of a situation exactly like this one but rules are rules and we have to accept it,” Silva said.“It is true the ball hits his hand but come on, do you want to cut his arm [off]?” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
AL-SOUDAH, Saudi Arabia — Atop a string of green mountains in Saudi Arabia, a monthlong festival drew a medley of yoga enthusiasts, extreme adventure seekers, tourists and traditional Saudi families — many wearing colorful flower crowns native to the region as the kingdom looks for ways to revamp its image and build up tourism.The al-Soudah festival, which ran throughout the month of August, gave visitors a chance to experience a unique region in Saudi Arabia and take part in outdoor sports like hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, horseback riding, zip lining and bungee jumping. Thousands also attended concerts by Middle Eastern superstars.Scenes of women zip lining and young Saudis at concerts, while nevertheless in a remote village, are a stark departure from the ultraconservative policies that for decades barred concerts and gender mixing, as well as shunned women’s sports in the kingdom.The reforms are being pushed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king’s powerful 34-year-old son. He is looking to revamp the country’s economy to become more resilient in the face of lower oil prices. Boosting domestic spending and opening the country to foreign tourists are seen as ways to create more jobs for the millions of young Saudis who will be entering the workforce and looking for jobs in the coming years.The al-Soudah festival attracted between 12,000 and 15,000 visitors per day, said Husameddin al-Madani, who oversaw the event. Most visitors to the festival were Saudi citizens, but it also drew foreign tourists.Unlike Saudi Arabia’s major cities — which have limited outdoor spaces for sports, especially for women who must wear long flowing robes known as abayas in public — Saudi women in al-Soudah wore fitted jeans and sneakers under their rolled up abayas to hike up the mountain. Other Saudi women were seen zip lining between cliffs. In keeping with local custom, many kept their faces and hair covered.The weather in August in the village of al-Soudah, located in the southwest Asir province, is a comfortable 22 degrees Celsius (70 Fahrenheit) in August, unlike the capital, Riyadh, or the coastal city of Jiddah, where temperatures exceed 43 degrees Celsius (105 Fahrenheit) throughout the summer. In the winter, parts of the mountain range see snow.Al-Soudah sits on part of the Sarawat Mountain range in the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula, some 3,000 metres (9,840 feet) above sea level. Its highlands are covered in the green of juniper trees. The area is also home to baboons, who were kept away from the festival with help from Human Wildlife Solutions based in Cape Town, South Africa.Jiddah city resident Noura al-Moammar said she was surprised by the region’s climate.“I never thought, honestly, that my country is that rich with nature,” she said. “It’s amazing for us to discover and see the different cultures and landscapes and weather in our beautiful Saudi.”In the nearby village of Rijal Almaa, the men wore flower crowns, or garlands, made from local flowers and herbs. Visitors here were treated to garlands of their own, local tribal dances, coffee, tea and evening lightshows displayed on the village’s 500-year-old distinct natural clay, stone and wood structures.The festival also drew extreme sports enthusiasts, including wingsuit base jumpers. Saudi media reported that British adventurer and astronautical engineer Angelo Grubisic died during a jump off the side of a cliff at the festival when he experienced difficulties reaching the landing site at speeds of around 160 kilometres (100 miles) per hour.The festival took place less than 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the airport in Abha, the capital city of the region of Asir, which has been targeted by Iranian-allied Yemeni rebels. Saudi Arabia has been waging war in Yemen against the rebels, also known as Houthis.Still, visitors at the festival said they felt extremely secure.“I couldn’t feel safer, honestly,” said Paris Verra, a 24-year-old American visitor. “The city is vibrant, and I was walking down the streets at like 1 and 2 a.m. and having tea with locals.”“Coming from America, there’s obviously a lot of misconceptions … but I’m here to show and prove it’s nothing but incredible … I hope everybody gets a chance to visit this place one day,” she added.So serene was the vibe at the festival that Alwaleed al-Keaid, who runs a Saudi hiking company, led morning mediations atop the mountain.“We start our mornings with a mediation session in this gorgeous environment where we thank God for this blessing and meditate,” he said. “When we’re done, we try the local bread with honey… and help people enjoy nature, forget about the rest of the world and live in the moment.”The festival also had its share of glitz and glamour with concerts by Middle Eastern mega stars, including Emirati singer Ahlam and Iraqi singer Kazem al-Saher. Their performances drew thousands of fans and al-Saher’s concert alone generated 1.5 million Saudi riyals ($400,000) in ticket sales, festival organizers said.The al-Soudah festival is one of 11 taking place in different parts of the country this year. The initiative, dubbed Saudi Seasons, is aimed at developing tourism and providing Saudis with temporary and permanent jobs.Al-Madani, the CEO of the al-Soudah festival, said at least 515 young men and women were hired from the local community to assist in the monthlong event. Local businesses also got a boost by contributing to food trucks and other services.___Associated Press writer Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.Amr Nabil, The Associated Press