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New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

The Soapbox: Gambling in the UAE, women’s soccer coach fired in Spain, ban on misleading meat labels in France

The Soapbox is a weekly column by WSN covering major news developments at NYU’s campuses and study away sites abroad. Global consciousness for a global university.
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The Soapbox is a weekly news column rounding up stories worth reading for a global university. (Illustration by Max Van Hosen)

In the United Arab Emirates, government announces gambling agency 

The UAE recently announced the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority, an agency that could potentially bring casinos to the Arab country, according to a report by the Emirates News Agency. Kevin Mullally, who previously served as vice president of government relations for Gaming Laboratories International, will serve as the agency’s CEO.

While the report did not offer many details, it said the GCGRA will “introduce a world-leading regulatory framework for a national lottery and commercial gaming.” Bloomberg estimates that legalizing gambling could generate over $6 billion for the UAE — potentially surpassing Singapore to generate the most revenue from casinos in Asia.

In recent years, the UAE has made efforts to relax Islamic laws, including those concerning alcohol and divorce, in hopes of increasing tourism and foreign investment as the country looks to diversify its economy away from oil. The industry currently accounts for 37% of its 2021 export revenue, according to Observatory of Economic Complexity data

In January 2022, hotel and casino operator Wynn Resorts announced it would build a $3.9 billion hotel in the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, with plans of including a “gaming area.” The project is slated to be completed by 2026. Raki Phillips, CEO of the Ras al-Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, told Reuters that “the gaming space makes up 4% of the overall development.”

In the UAE, each of the seven emirates — Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain — is governed by constitutional monarchies. As a result, specific laws can differ between emirates, depending on their respective rulers. Wynn Resorts CEO Craig Billings said he is confident that Ras al-Khaimah will give gambling the go-ahead, with or without national legalization. 

“While there may be conversation in other emirates about legalization or legalization at the federal level — thereby covering all emirates — I expect we will have our license for Ras al-Khaimah actually imminently,” Billings said to the Associated Press.

In Spain, women’s soccer team coach fired following months of complaints 

The Royal Spanish Football Federation fired longtime coach Jorge Vilda less than a month after the country won its first FIFA Women’s World Cup

The decision follows a scandal where RFEF president Luis Rubiales kissed player Jenni Hermoso without consent during the World Cup awards ceremony. In response to the incident, 11 members of Vilda’s coaching staff resigned, and 81 players are striking until a change in federation and team leadership occurs. At a recent RFEF meeting, Vilda was seen applauding Rubiales after he refused to resign from his position, arguing that he was a victim of “false feminism.”

The RFEF announced the sacking in a statement on Sept. 5 reading, “Gracias, Jorge,” commending his management of the team for the last eight years. The statement did not mention the players’ strike or the Rubiales scandal.

The federation has promoted Vilda’s assistant coach, Montse Tomé, as his replacement. Tomé — who made four appearances as a player for Spain in her career before retiring in 2012 — will be the first woman to lead a Spanish national soccer team.

This is not the first time Vilda’s leadership has been called into question by his players. Last September, 15 players refused to participate in the selection as long as he was in charge. However, the mutiny was ultimately put down by the RFEF, who backed Vilda and demanded players apologize before being allowed back on the team, according to The New York Times.

“The explanation they gave me was that there were some structural changes,” Vilda said, according to ABC News. “After everything I’ve achieved, after having given my 100%, my conscience is clear. I don’t understand the firing, I didn’t think I deserved it.”

In France, lawmakers call for restriction of meat-related terminology for protein substitutes

The French Ministry of Agriculture and Food issued a decree that would prohibit a list of 21 animal product descriptors on items containing plant proteins. Some words that will be banned include “steak,” “ham” and “butcher,” and more than 120 other labels — including “poultry,” “nugget” and “bacon” — would only be allowed if products do not contain a certain percentage of plant proteins.

Organizations like ProVeg International, which encourages food companies to replace meat products with plant-based alternatives, argue that consumers understand the necessity of labels for meat alternatives.

“Consumers are not confused,” said Jasmijn de Boo, Global CEO of ProVeg International, to The Washington Post. “They know perfectly well what they’re looking for: food made free from animals. That’s why these products should have logical names that people are familiar with.”

A similar decree was drafted last June, but was suspended by the French courts a month later because it was “too vague and the timing too short.” 

If passed, the new policy would allot for a transition period, outlining two provisions. First, a three-month grace period would be installed to allow manufacturers to change labeling. Additionally, manufacturers would be allowed to sell all products labeled before the decree for up to one year. 

Following this transition period, any person who uses an incorrect label will be fined 1,500 euros, and any company will be fined 7,500 euros for the same offense. 

In a Sept. 4 press release, French Minister of Agriculture and Food Marc Fesneau claimed the order will help maintain consumers’ trust.

“This new draft decree reflects our desire to put an end to misleading claims as provided for by law, by using names relating to meat products for foodstuffs that do not contain them,” Fesneau said in the statement. “It is an issue of transparency and fairness which responds to a legitimate expectation of consumers and producers.”

Contact Krish Dev at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Krish Dev, Multimedia Editor
Krish is a first-year planning to major in Computer Science and Linguistics at CAS. In his free time, he enjoys posting photos on @krish_dev.creations, obsessing over geography, watching new films with friends, taking public transport to new places and letting Arsenal make or break his week.

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