Former Birmingham striker Christian Benitez has died at the age of 27.
The Ecuador international was admitted to hospital with severe stomach pains shortly after making his debut for Qatari side El Jaish on Sunday.
His heart failed hours later, the Ecuador Football Federation said.
Benitez, capped 58 times by his country, spent the 2009-10 season on loan at Blues from Santos Laguna but returned to the Mexican side when they decided not to sign him permanently.
Benitez, also known as ‘Chucho’, had been playing in El Jaish’s 2-0 win against Qatar Sports Club in the Sheikh Jassem Cup.
His new club, who signed Benitez on 6 July, confirmed the news a few hours later. Their statement said: “The club would like to offer its sincere condolences to the family of the player. “Benitez had recently joined the club from Club America for three seasons. The player participated for the first time with the team during yesterday’s match against Qatar Sports Club in the Sheikh Jassem Cup without complaining of any health problems.
“His sudden departure is a big shock for each member of the technical and administrative staff. He was a player that over the short period he was here was regarded for his high moral character.” Birmingham will mark the player’s death ahead of Saturday’s Championship match against Watford at St Andrew’s. The club said: “The thoughts of all associated with the club are with Chucho’s family and friends at this very sad time.
“The Ecuador international was an immensely popular character during his time at the club.” Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Lee Carsley, who was a team-mate of Benitez at Birmingham, told BBC Sport: “It’s devastating news for his family and I’m sure Birmingham City will want to pay their respects. “I remember he had outstanding ability, was very quick and was a bit of a free spirit.
“He had a big personality and he burst on to the scene when he came on at Old Trafford [as a substitute against Manchester United in August 2009] and caused lots of problems. His ability – and goalscoring ability – was there to see.
“But he didn’t really fulfil his potential at Birmingham – it was difficult because of the way Birmingham played. “He was a popular player in the changing room, he got a grasp of the Brummie accent quite quickly and he was popular with everyone. It is sad to lose anyone like this.” Benitez’s former Birmingham team-mate Craig Gardner, now at Sunderland, tweeted: “Cannot believe Christian Benitez has died.
“I had the pleasure to play with him. He was a top bloke. My thoughts go out to his family.”
Benitez scored four goals in 36 appearances during his time in England and came to prominence during the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
The son of Ermen Benitez, one of Ecuador’s all-time leading goalscorers, Benitez left Santos Laguna for Club America, another Mexican side, in 2011.
UTB partners with FUFA to promote sports tourism
By Our Reporter
Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has entered into a Ugx200m sponsorship agreement and partnership with the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) as the official tourism partner.
The two institutions have signed a Memorandum of Understanding; which will see both parties work hand in hand to promote brand “destination Uganda” at both the domestic and international scene.
The partnership gives UTB rights to brand Destination Uganda at local and international games in which the Uganda Cranes are participating as well as work with the players in destination marketing campaigns.
Speaking at the press conference, UTB CEO, Lilly Ajarova said: “The Uganda Tourism Board is prioritizing the building of positive destination brand equity and brand value through creating high level brand awareness partnerships such as the one witnessed here today with FUFA.”
Football is the world’s greatest sport and viewed by billions of fans across the world. In Uganda, the Uganda Cranes is the greatest football brand- but more importantly the leading sporting ambassadors to the region and the world.
Ajarova noted, “We are most excited about how we can best brand our national team internationally and also use the FUFA DRUM to create awareness of Uganda’s tourist attractions as the games traverse the whole country. We believe this is an incredible opportunity to connect with local communities and football fans across the country and will enable us to reach out to more tourists both locally and internationally.”
FUFA 1st Vice President, Justus Mugisha in his remarks said that, “We are using the power of sports to position Uganda on a global scene. This initiative by FUFA and UTB will showcase how football can be used to promote destination Uganda. We are proud to be in partnership and we hope to continue building our nation through sports and tourism.”
He added, this is a big opportunity for us to not only support football but also enrich Ugandans with the knowledge about their own country.
Uganda ladies crowned champions at the Africa 5s tournament
By Our Reporter
Team Uganda emerged the best at the inaugural edition of the ladies’ Africa Fives Soccer Championships played at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es-Salaam, Tanzania over the weekend.
The team sponsored by Nile Special comprising of players like Vanessa Karungi, Brenda Nabisaalu, Wilmer Nantumbwe, Sarah Namulindwa, Memory Nampijja and Brenda Makanga, defeated the Tanzania Invitational side 1-0 in the final played on Saturday afternoon.
Captain Nampijja scored the winner-takes-it-all strike in the ninth minute of the 12-minute first half.
With a large number of Tanzanian fans cheering, Uganda held on in the second half with goalkeeper Karungi pulling off a couple of saves to guide Uganda to victory.
“We are happy to bring this trophy home,” said winning captain Nampijja after receiving the trophy from tournament ambassador Samuel Eto’o. The team will travel with former Cameroonian forward Eto’o to FC Barcelona’s home -Camp Nou.
Speaking about the women’s side triumph, Nile Special brand manager Francis Nyende was ecstatic and visibly in shock at the result.
“This Uganda’s inaugural participation in this tournament, and we have won the trophy! This is unbelievable. Kudos to the girls who have given it their everything. As a brand heavily involved in sports, we hope this victory will inspire more ladies to play this game,” said Nyende.
The team had beaten pre-tournament favourites South Africa 2-1 via a shootout where Karungi saved two penalties following a goalless draw.
In the quarterfinals, Uganda comfortably beat Ghana 3-0 with Nantumbwe striking twice. Uganda had beaten Zimbabwe 2-1, had a 1-1 draw with Tanzania A before losing to Swaziland 1-0 in Group A on Friday.
In the men’s category, Uganda was unlucky to be ejected after conceding a goal. Represented by Facebook FC franchise, which won the Nile Special 5-A-Side competition finals, Uganda beat Swaziland 5-0, Zimbabwe 1-0 and Tanzania 1-0 to top Group A on Friday but on Saturday, they lost to Group B bottom team Zambia 2-1 via penalties following a 0-0 stalemate.
Excitement as Pepsi hosts champions league finale watch party
By Our Reporter
Football lovers and enthusiasts were treated to a fun evening as Pepsi Uganda hosted the UEFA Champions league finale watch party on Saturday.
Held at The Square in Industrial Area, Liverpool supporters were the most joyous as their team defeated Tottenham Hot Spurs 2-0 to win this season’s UEFA Champions League.
The viewing party featured several fun activities including a quiz in which winners were rewarded different prizes like balls, jerseys and cash.
The event was held to mark the climax of Pepsi Uganda’s “Win like a baller” promotion. The promotion which was launched in early February presented a platform for soccer fans and lovers to win up to Ugx 15 million weekly in a TV draw and instant cash and airtime daily. Over Ugx 400 million was given out during the duration of the campaign.
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