Rafael BenÌtez told Inter Milan’s owner he wanted three new players. Instead, he was fired by the club yesterday.
Rafael BenÌtez told Inter Milan’s owner he wanted three new players. Instead, he was fired by the club yesterday.

Rafael Benitez shot himself in foot with Inter

The seeds of Rafael Benitez's demise as the Inter Milan coach were sown in Abu Dhabi, the surprise being ultimately that it was he who appeared to play the biggest role in his downfall.

The Spaniard had brought Inter to the Club World Cup competition under pressure to win the tournament and deflect attention from a disappointing Serie A title defence and an unconvincing passage through to the last 16 of the Champions League.

They did just that, winning both games they played in the capital 3-0, against Seongnam and TP Mazembe, respectively, and on paper it appeared a case of job done.

But at the press conference following the championship match at Zayed Sports City, Benitez seemed to precipitate his departure by demanding that the Inter board either back him by allowing him to buy at least three new players in the transfer window or talk to his agent about his future at the club.

Massimo Moratti, the Inter owner and president, did decide to look at Benitez's future at the club, and yesterday the European champions announced that they had reached "a mutually satisfactory agreement" with Benitez to terminate his contract, which ran until the end of next season.

"Inter thank Rafael Benitez for his work in leading his team to success in the Italian Super Cup and the Fifa Club World Cup," the club said on their website.

Moratti told the ANSA news agency: "I'm disappointed over the end of the relationship with Benitez, but the break-up had become pretty much inevitable."

Benitez thanked his players, as well as Inter supporters and officials, in a statement before adding, "It is my duty to thank president Massimo Moratti for having chosen me to coach Inter."

Leonardo, the former AC Milan coach, is considered the front-runner to have taken over for Benitez by the time the Serie A season resumes on January 6, with Inter, who are currently seventh in the table, hosting second-place Napoli.

Benitez's reign, which began in the summer after he took over from Jose Mourinho after leaving English Premier League side Liverpool, had been strained almost from the start, although he had a hard act to follow, with Mourinho having led Inter to the Serie A, Italian Cup and Champions League titles last season - the first such treble for an Italian club.

Under Benitez, Inter were beaten 2-0 by Atletico Madrid in the European Super Cup in August and opened the defence of their Champions League title in September with a disappointing 2-2 draw at the unheralded Dutch side FC Twente, who were making their debut in the competition.

Other failures followed, such as a 3-1 loss at Tottenham in Europe, and a painful 1-0 loss to Milan in the city derby last month.

In Benitez's defence, Inter has been devastated by a series of injuries to top players, with the likes of Julio Cesar, Maicon, Walter Samuel, Cristian Chivu, Esteban Cambiasso, Javier Zanetti and Diego Milito all missing large chunks of action.

In addition, the striker Samuel Eto'o was handed a three-match ban in Serie A for head-butting an opponent with Chievo Verona last month, and playmaker Wesley Sneijder has been far from his best after leading Holland to the World Cup final.

Sneijder acknowledged last month that he was suffering from anaemia.

Leonardo coached AC Milan last season but the term ended abruptly when the Brazilian clashed with Silvio Berlusconi, the club owner as well as the Italian prime minister.

Leonardo played for Milan for four years between 1997 and 2001 before returning to Brazil and working in a scouting role, in which he helped Milan secure the signings of Kaka and Alexandre Pato.

In 2008, he was appointed as Milan's technical director, then received his first coaching position in the wake of Carlo Ancelotti's departure to Chelsea.

Moratti gave no indication of his choice to replace Benitez. "All the names being tossed about for the future coach of Inter are interesting," he said.

* With agencies

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed


Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

About Okadoc

Date started: Okadoc, 2018

Founder/CEO: Fodhil Benturquia

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: Healthcare

Size: (employees/revenue) 40 staff; undisclosed revenues recording “double-digit” monthly growth

Funding stage: Series B fundraising round to conclude in February

Investors: Undisclosed

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Red Joan

Director: Trevor Nunn

Starring: Judi Dench, Sophie Cookson, Tereza Srbova

Rating: 3/5 stars


Engine: Dual electric motors with 102kW battery pack

Power: 570hp

Torque: 890Nm

Range: Up to 428km

On sale: Now

Price: From Dh1,700,000


Producer: Maddock Films, Jio Movies
Director: Amar Kaushik
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Aparshakti Khurana, Abhishek Banerjee
Rating: 3.5


Name: Dooda Solutions
Based: Lebanon
Founder: Nada Ghanem
Sector: AgriTech
Total funding: $300,000 in equity-free funding
Number of employees: 11


Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood


Mr Al Qassimi is 37 and lives in Dubai
He is a keen drummer and loves gardening
His favourite way to unwind is spending time with his two children and cooking

Law 41.9.4 of men’s T20I playing conditions

The fielding side shall be ready to start each over within 60 seconds of the previous over being completed.
An electronic clock will be displayed at the ground that counts down seconds from 60 to zero.
The clock is not required or, if already started, can be cancelled if:
• A new batter comes to the wicket between overs.
• An official drinks interval has been called.
• The umpires have approved the on field treatment of an injury to a batter or fielder.
• The time lost is for any circumstances beyond the control of the fielding side.
• The third umpire starts the clock either when the ball has become dead at the end of the previous over, or a review has been completed.
• The team gets two warnings if they are not ready to start overs after the clock reaches zero.
• On the third and any subsequent occasion in an innings, the bowler’s end umpire awards five runs.

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government


Name: Elmawkaa
Based: Hub71, Abu Dhabi
Founders: Ebrahem Anwar, Mahmoud Habib and Mohamed Thabet
Sector: PropTech
Total funding: $400,000
Investors: 500 Startups, Flat6Labs and angel investors
Number of employees: 12

Where to buy art books in the UAE

There are a number of speciality art bookshops in the UAE.

In Dubai, The Lighthouse at Dubai Design District has a wonderfully curated selection of art and design books. Alserkal Avenue runs a pop-up shop at their A4 space, and host the art-book fair Fully Booked during Art Week in March. The Third Line, also in Alserkal Avenue, has a strong book-publishing arm and sells copies at its gallery. Kinokuniya, at Dubai Mall, has some good offerings within its broad selection, and you never know what you will find at the House of Prose in Jumeirah. Finally, all of Gulf Photo Plus’s photo books are available for sale at their show. 

In Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi has a beautiful selection of catalogues and art books, and Magrudy’s – across the Emirates, but particularly at their NYU Abu Dhabi site – has a great selection in art, fiction and cultural theory.

In Sharjah, the Sharjah Art Museum sells catalogues and art books at its museum shop, and the Sharjah Art Foundation has a bookshop that offers reads on art, theory and cultural history.


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