Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

President Ghani Visits Besieged City of Mazar-e Sharif to Rally Troops; Taliban Fighters Capture Ninth Provincial Capital; Messi: My Goal and My Dreams is to Win Again; Dozens of Wildfire Kill 65 People, Including 25 Soldiers; Barcelona Star Officially Signs With Paris Saint-Germain; Israeli Parents Told to Test Kids Ahead of School Opening. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired August 11, 2021 - 11:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNNI HOST: I am Becky Anderson, hello, and welcome to the second hour of "Connect the World". The Taliban's brutal advance through

Afghan continues as the world watches in horror.

The group has just captured its ninth Provincial Capital, Faizabad. That means about two thirds of the country is now in the hands of the Taliban.

Earlier, President Ashraf Ghani rallied the troops in the city of Mazar-e Sharif, the local commanders fighting there are the only thing stopping the

complete loss of Afghanistan's north.

Meanwhile, CNN has learned that the U.S. State Department is considering pulling more staff from its embassy in Kabul. Secretary of State Tony

Blinken just visited the embassy in April before the Taliban began its siege one reason for these discussions about the embassy.

The U.S. now expects the Afghan government for much more quickly than an earlier six month estimates. Well, U.S. Secretary - Security Correspondent

Kylie Atwood will be taking a look at the situation from the U.S. side of things for you.

But we begin with Clarissa Ward, who joins us live from Kabul. And Clarissa describe if you will, what you are seeing on the ground?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, I think what we're seeing is an unraveling, and an unraveling that is happening at

a much faster pace than I think anyone would have imagined. Nine provincial capitals, now under Taliban control in just a period of five or six days,

that certainly would have been very difficult to predict.

And many others are on the brink, at least half under threat. We visited Kandahar, which is the country's second largest city; we also just got back

from Ghazni. And what we saw there are cities that are completely surrounded by the Taliban and Afghan security forces that simply aren't

equipped are up to the job of pushing them back and taking back territory that has already been gained.

I'll give you one example. We drove past a checkpoint, and at which there were several Afghan forces that were facing coming under some sniper fire

from the Taliban. And we saw them with our own eyes come running out of the base, they hailed down a civilian car jumped in it and left the base.

And when we returned to the same checkpoint the following day, there were still Afghan soldiers there. But they were wearing civilian clothes,

because that is the level of fear that Afghan soldiers are dealing with at the moment. They're facing threats on so many sides.

You know, the offensive is so widespread. And they're also facing the threat of potential assassination of suicide bombings, that they are

completely overwhelmed Becky. And there's no sense at the moment of a coherent strategy being put in place to try to reverse the gains that have

been made.

You mentioned the President Ashraf Ghani. He's called on people to join ordinary Afghans to go and join a popular uprising to go and basically sign

up with warlords to try to fight. But again, it's a very sort of muddy process with no clear and insight, Becky.

ANDERSON: And there is a clear message though, from the U.S. from the Biden Administration, from the President himself who said yesterday, Afghan

leaders have to come together and fight for themselves. How is that going down on the ground?

WARD: I think there's recognition with a lot of the Afghans that you speak to that this is their country, and that they understand they need to take

responsibility for it.

And they need to defend it. That said Becky; there is also a lot of resentment about the way in which this withdrawal has been executed, the

rapid pace of it, the chaotic nature of it.

And there's also a sense that because there were no conditions put down with these negotiations with the Taliban, with the exception, of course,

that Afghanistan never again become a safe haven for terrorists, that the U.S. ultimately didn't have that much leverage in terms of what terms it

could dictate to the Taliban on the ground.

So definitely, you see a lot of resentment. But primarily, I would say, Becky, you see fear. You see people who are petrified. They don't know what

their future holds. They don't know how to protect their families.

They don't know if they have to leave the country. They don't know how to get out of the country. And as I said, a grim reality is setting in for

many people that even though Kabul feels relatively secure at the moment that may not last for long.

ANDERSON: We'll bring Kylie out at this point. You have reported that there are active discussions about a further drawdown of the U.S. Embassy in

Kabul. What else are you hearing?

KYLIE ATWOOD, U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Right now, Becky, these are active discussions here at the State Department. And frankly, these

conversations are always happening when it comes to the safety and security of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

But the pace of these conversations have really sped up in the last 48 hours because of the Taliban gains on the ground because those gains have

frankly sources tell me been happening at a faster pace than U.S. officials expected them to.


ATWOOD: And therefore, folks here at the department are planning for a potential for a partial evacuation from the embassy, some of those folks to

leave so that they don't find themselves in a situation where they have to evacuate everyone at one time, which is a very, very dicey emergency

situation that they really want to avoid.

Now, the State Department is officially saying that their posture in Afghanistan has not changed. They continue to press that they want to be

engaged diplomatically, that they are engaged diplomatically.

But they also acknowledge that the situation on the ground is a challenging one, the environment does prevent them from doing everything that they want

to. And they would have more diplomats there if they could.

But because of the security situation, they can't. And the other thing I think is worth noting is that the State Department continues to press that

there needs to be a political solution here. That is something that they have been saying, in large part for the last, you know, few years.

There is a U.S. negotiator who is in Doha meeting with the Taliban. He is urging them according to the State Department to stop with their military

offenses on the ground and to engage in negotiations surrounding a political solution.

But the question is, why is the Taliban going to start doing that now, when, frankly, the amount of the U.S. leverage is questionable,

particularly given the fact that President Biden is doubling down, saying there are no second guesses about his decision to fully withdraw U.S.

troops just at the end of this month.

ANDERSON: Well, with that, I want to turn to the effects this Taliban takeover is having on the country and particularly its women. Thank you

both. We're joined by Wazhman Frogh who is a member of the Afghanistan High Peace Council.

You and I've talked a number of times, and every time we speak, the situation on the ground gets worse and worse. You've just listened to our

reporting out of Kabul and indeed, the reporting that CNN has from the Pentagon today.

Let's you and I start with what is going on the ground because you are in constant contact with people, particularly with Afghan women. What are you

hearing at this point?

WAZHMA FROGH, AFGHAN WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Thank you, Becky. A lot of you know, what was said earlier as well, there is so much, you know, icons

are very dissolution, there's a lot of anger and frustration among icons, because they think they have been kind of abandoned.

And you know, suddenly and at the same time, there's so much pressure on the national security forces, they are being stretched to - you know, at

the same time, all the provinces have come under attack. They have lost at the border crossing.

So imagine all these border crossings that the Afghan forces have lost, that has opened up the entry point for more militants to come inside the

country. We have been hearing about, you know, like my contacts and Nimroz, which was bordering with Iran, have we have been hearing about 600

militants of --, which is a Sunni group fighting the Iranian state, for example.

You know, even they have been actually, you know, come to help the Taliban or to create, you know, support for them. So things have actually become

much, you know, out of, like control in a way that the militant's international organizations have become active and the impact it has on the


So right now on the streets of Kabul, we have over 60,000 households, 60,000 households. These are families with small children, two years, three

years, four years, who are sleeping on the streets.

And these are not like people with low, you know, like with very, from very, very poor communities. These are like communities or families with

who are farmers, you know and this is the time of harvest in Afghanistan and they have lost on that.

It came from Kunduz for example, around 15,000 households and Kunduz is like the breadbasket of Afghanistan where we have like all in this guy that

you know, I was talking to, he actually has like Hector's of his land, which was growing lentils and wheat has been actually burned down on fire.

So the former's have lost these people are on the streets of Kabul and other provinces. Kandahar has seen a massacre.

And also the stories that we hear from these you know, people who are right now on the streets of Kabul we hear that the Afghan government has given

them space to come to the mosques inside the mosques at least because under this hot weather, you know, and having nothing on literally.

So the stories that the facts like this woman actually from Taloquan - which is the north and you know on the way where there is a lot of fighting

going on.


FROGH: She actually talked about, you know, how the women have been forced taken away from her community.

ANDERSON: So, I mean, these are shocking stories that just remind people that Kabul still by no means under the control of the Taliban.

But what you are reporting here is that people moving away from areas that have now are now held by the Taliban and moving into areas that they

fundamentally believe it is their only sort of sanctuary for safety at this point.

You tweeted earlier, a Taliban victory will be the end of everything that we have built in 20 years, I want you to explain to our viewers what you

mean by that. And as the Taliban continues to gain more ground. The U.S. now says the whole country could fall much quicker than six months, what

would the consequences be?

FROGH: For me, the fact that, you know, tons of Afghan girls, you know, right now, they have no future, just thinking about, you know, no school or

given the survival right now is a major question.

Imagine you have built a community we have built, you know, we have like media, we have flourishing civil society, all these institutions, of

course, we have failed in many areas, we have a lot of challenges.

But the fact that all these young people right now, you know, like I keep getting calls from like, all over, who just keep asking, can you help us?

Can you help us get out of my Afghanistan? And that hurts me so much, because this country, we put our blood, our sweat in building it.

And we thought that, you know, United States was a friend, we stood by you, when America was attacked by the same, you know, a terrorist groups that

the Taliban had given them sanctuary, we thought that the Americans too would actually stand and I'm not asking for American troops to sit down to

fight our war.

No, it's not even our word. You see, the composition of the militants on the ground, you know, you would understand that it's not our word. It's a

global terror right now. But what hurts me is that like, you know, millions of these young Afghans have put their lives on these 20 years, we have

built our institution.

And right now, everything is at stake. These children, for example, you saw the UNICEF report in the last month, we have lost at least 500 children.

And when you see these pictures of children, you know, sleeping on the streets of Kabul, you know, I just cannot. It's so hard. It's so hard.

ANDERSON: I know it is, and I'm so sorry. I guess we shouldn't, we should try and talk about solutions at this point. I know, that's, I know, that

will be really tough for you. But what do you, what is your message to the international community at this point?

FROGH: I think standing by Afghan government is the first thing, so that actually the Afghan forces can continue, you know, protecting their people.

Because right now, the only hope is the Afghan forces, they are very much stretched and you know, 18,000 contractors, International - to U.S.,

contractors were helping our forces, you know, from fuel supply, Radar Communication and all of that has stopped right because of the withdrawal.

So they have lost huge, huge support from the contractors. So the only hope is that, you know, the international community, particularly, you know, the

U.S. Administration would actually stand, you know, but with the Afghan government and help the Afghan forces to kind of continue you know,

protecting their people.

Because if there is a change in the battlefield, if this pace of offensive is addressed, if the Taliban. And we have to bring the borders of

Afghanistan under control, because these borders have opened up, you know, the entry for many more militants from the region who are already coming.

So they have come to--

ANDERSON: And I want to talk to you about that. Let me just talk to you about that. Because the only sort of agreement that was made with the

Taliban in Doha, with the U.S. was that Afghanistan would not become a haven for militants, who might attack the U.S. again, we are talking of

course here, as this is withdrawal.

The symbolic 20th anniversary of 911, of course, is just around the corner. You are saying that those borders now run by the Taliban are giving an

opportunity to foreign fighters and to those who could be deemed a national security threat, not just to Afghanistan, but to the U.S., for example,

going forward. That is your concern is it?


FROGH: Huge concern, you know, the violent extremist groups in the region, you know, they have come together. So right now at least, you know, five of

these very notorious terrorist organizations, you know, we have had by doctrine that came under, you know, offensive this week for example.

We have had you know, Turkistan East Turkistan militants, for example, we have - we have - for example, you know, either Pakistanis, so many other

militants who are helping the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

So based on the Security Council report was very clear as well, you know, that right now in different provinces. So the question is that how the

Taliban can get this support or this sort of power to run this offensive.

So of course, they have the support of, you know, the ammunition. So our reports show on the ground that the Al Qaeda, you know, attack on the

tactical level, their operatives are helping the Taliban you know, with the rocket launchers.

Haqqani Network is considered a terrorist organization under the U.S. law. But Haqqani is the deputy, you know, the leader of the Haqqani Network is

the deputy of the Taliban and you know, leader. So imagine how much they are offensive on the ground. These are global terrorism right now unfolding

in Afghanistan.

ANDERSON: We're going to leave it there. But this will not be the last time that you and I speak; I really appreciate your time. And your message and

your access to the story on the ground for our viewers and for the international community are so important at this point.

And I will say from all of us, please stay safe. And I know that you will continue to do the work that you do. We thank you very much indeed for

joining us. We're going to take a very short break at this point back after this.


ANDERSON: Well, some tears to cheers, and a pledge for more championships and trophies. This was the scene outside Paris Saint-Germain Stadium. Fans

cheering Lionel Messi now a member of the French League One powerhouse aside, no Barcelona fan ever wanted to see.

PSG unveiling the new football superstar New Jersey in hand at a news conference a day after he arrived in the French Capital to a hero's

welcome. Messi telling the world it was difficult to leave the Spanish club after more than two decades there, but the signing with PSG is the right

move at the right time. He says the PSG future is bright.


LIONEL MESSI, SIGNED WITH PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN: Really, there are some amazing transfers. The team is incredible. I really want to train and

compete now because I'm going to be playing with the best players. It's very nice. It's an incredible experience to be able to enjoy.

My goal and my dream are to win again this trophy and I think that Paris is the best place to have a chance to win us again.



ANDERSON: Messi's contracts reportedly were $82 million over two years with an option for a third year. And that folks is a lot less than he was making

with Barcelona, probably more than any other club could possibly have paid him.

The PSG president says the signing is within the bounds of UEFA's financial fair play rules and is already reaping benefits. Have a listen to this.


NASSER AL-KHELAIFI, PSG PRESIDENT: There's a lot of positive is bringing to the club and you can see in everything in terms of commercial terms of

social media, that's amazing, honestly, is I mean, you know, a big assets for the club. The club being an increase in every single part of the club

in terms of commercial I mean, unbelievable three days.

I mean, you know, they will maybe give you some numbers, you're going to be shocked honestly in the numbers that we have. I hope Lio will not ask for

more salary.


ANDERSON: Well an asset as described there is an understatement PSG we should note our own by cache flush cache reorganization and while messy

signing will shine, a brighter spotlight on French football. It's about more than that.

It's also about soft power and image with the World Cup of course coming up next year in Qatari. I visited one of the main stadiums recently some 500

days out from the big event. Have a look.


ANDERSON (on camera): Last time you and I were here we were in high Vis jacket. This was a building site for years and this is Al-Bayt Stadium.


ANDERSON (on camera): This is remarkable.

AL-THAWADI: Thank you.

ANDERSON (on camera): Any football fan is going to fill their hair standing up from their arms when they walk into here.

AL-THAWADI: Definitely right like that reaction, there's no doubt about that.


ANDERSON: Hassan Al Thawadi who is the Head of the Supreme Committee delivering that World Cup in Qatar in November 2022. Well, earlier today,

our Amanda Davies spoke to Messi now a member of that Qatari owned club in Paris, one on one, have a listen.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: And so a new chapter begins for Lionel Messi. Here in Paris, and Paris Saint-Germain here --, it has been

such a whirlwind few days for the 34 year old. There have been people here telling me they can't quite believe the move has happened and happen so


So perhaps it's no surprise that the man himself admitted he's still trying to process and put it into words. Congratulations, lovely to see you. We

have seen you this week go through the whole range of emotions. Can you even begin to sum up the last few days?


MESSI: Well, the truth is it's hard to put into words, but I've had to live through this week. It was really difficult. What happened with Barcelona,

saying farewell after being there my whole life in one place. And after three days without forgetting what happened, everything changed.

I was living with a lot of doubt, a lot of nerves, a lot of anticipation that this would happen. And well, a lot of excitement and desire to get

started. It was a really special arrival, the welcome from the people who welcomed me who came out onto the streets.

I'm very excited to start this new era. And I'm going to live and I'm ready to start my new life here in Paris.

DAVIES (on camera): You have won league titles. You have won Champions League titles. But this is new to you. Are you ready for life as the new

guy in the dressing room?

MESSI: Yes, honestly, I'm aware of my background and the objective. This club has been fighting for a while to win a Champions League. And it came

close these last few years.

For me on a personal level, I would love to win another Champions League, like I've said in previous years, and I think I've come to the ideal place

that's ready for that.

We have the same goals. The club's got impressive players, one of the best squads in the world. And God willing, we can achieve that goal which Paris

wants so much. I want so much and hopefully we can enjoy it with the people of Paris too.


DAVIES (on camera): What is the aim? What is success for you here?

MESSI: Well, honestly, I live day to day, I think about enjoying the dressing room, where there's a lot of guys, I know, I have friends there

who are, like I said, among the best in the world.

I know them, and being able to enjoy playing with them to be able to achieve the goals that the club has doing it all in a relaxed way and going


I'd love to be able to keep winning titles, and to do it here in France, to fight for everything. I think those are the objectives. And hopefully it


DAVIES (on camera): Have you allowed yourself to contemplate the prospect of PSG against Barcelona in the Champions League?

MESSI: Well, it could happen, it would be strange for me if it happens. On the one hand, it would be special going back to my home with a different

shirt on. But we'll see what happens in the future. And if it does, we'll enjoy it as well.


DAVIES: There have been fans queuing up desperate to get their hands on the new 30 Messi Jersey already. We got a sneak peek as he came out wearing one

for a kick about with his children after all his commitments had been done.

But if there was hype around today, just imagine what it's going to be like when he takes to the field properly for his debut in a few weeks' time.

Amanda Davies CNN, Paris.

ANDERSON: Well, CNN's Saskya Vandoorne is in Paris. And she's been I know speaking to fans today outside the PSG stadium for us. And we saw these

enormous queues for the PSG shot which is on the --.

And of course everybody now wants that number 30 shirts actually earlier on today when he was unveiled to the fans. Most he was holding on those

shirts. He - it out into this sort of adoring sea of fans is somebody is lucky enough to already have the one that he had his hands on earlier and

what's the atmosphere like today?

SASKYA VANDOORNE, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, it's been again another day just it's electric Becky, just like yesterday. You know, the fans were out

in full force today and met his press conference did not disappoint.

He said all the things that the fans wanted to hear that he had the same goals as Paris, but he was going to work very hard to win titles and

crucially that he believes PSG can win the Champions League. Now of course Messi has won the Champions League four times before and he is a six time

Ballon d'Or winner.

So the fans really believe that with Messi, they have a chance. And let's talk about those fans. As I said they were out again and force where Messi

was giving that press conference. They were letting off flares. They were letting off fireworks.

We spoke to someone who lives here. And she said she had never seen the neighborhood quite like it before. And Becky, as you said, there were these

huge lines outside the PSG store fans. I mean, it was over an hour long wait, but fans were just so desperate to get their hands on that number 30


Now of course the next question is when will Messi be on the pitch? It is unlikely that he'll be playing here on Saturday. There is a home game here

for LaLiga. But Messi we are told it is unlikely to play. So the fans will just have to wait a little bit longer until they see their beloved Messi on

the pitch, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, what a team that is going to be. And the coach is going to have the dubious pleasure I guess, trying to work out how he plays all of

those superstars together. But what a day and let's just celebrate the world of football today.

There's a whole load of other conversations that we can have about this including financial fair play and blah, blah! But just for a moment we're

just going to celebrate the fact that fans around the world have had a super, super day and just getting some access to Lionel Messi is such a

private man normally.

Thank you, Saskya. Next on "Connect the World" Algeria mourns dozens killed in ferocious wildfires and the danger from the blazes isn't over yet, that

coming up.



ANDERSON: Starting today, in Algeria will observe three days of mourning for the dozens of people killed in wildfires that the fires east of the

capital have killed at least 65 people including 28 soldiers, the region is suffering an intense heat wave but the government officials say arson in

this case is expected to.

Jomana Karadsheh joining us now from Turkey three days of mourning starts tomorrow for the fire victims in Algeria. What are the details?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely devastating fires Becky according to authorities through state media; they are more than 100 fires

since Monday. These have been concentrated in the northern part of Algeria.

In 16 provinces spread out across these areas, forests, mountainous areas, villages. This is all these are hard to reach areas in many of these cases

which has made the fight against these fires all the much harder according to authorities.

They say that they have managed to put out a large number of these fires, but there are several still raging, we have heard the government say that

they are going to be reaching out to European allies to help them in this fight against the fires.

We've heard the French saying that they are standing ready to support Algeria. Over the past 24 hours Becky we have seen the death toll continue

to rise. As you mentioned, at least 65 people confirmed killed so far there are many who are injured, some in critical condition.

So there are concerns that more lives will be lost. Now, as you mentioned 28 of those killed were service members. These are soldiers who were

deployed to the area to try and help with the rescue operations with evacuations with the firefighting efforts.

I mean, Becky the images that we have seen coming out of Algeria, horrific and heartbreaking, these are large fires spread out across these large

areas devouring these forests and villages. Not only are we seeing firefighters and soldiers trying to put out the flames.

You've also got civilians taking part in this effort to try and save their homes, their livelihoods. People desperately trying to put out these fires

using whatever they can get ahold of whether it's branches or filling up plastic containers to fight these fires.

The government says it's investigating the cause of these fires. They're not denying that the current heat wave these record temperatures registered

in some parts where we're seeing these fires played a part in all of this but Becky, they're also saying that there's an element of criminality,

they're saying arson was the cause of these fires.

They're not really providing much proof evidence, what they're basing this on other than saying that these kinds of simultaneous fires in these

different areas are just not normal.


KARADSHEH: But unfortunately, as we have been seeing in this region, we have seen this in Turkey seeing this in Greece seen this in Cyprus in

Italy, that these fire scientists are warning, maybe the new normal, this Mediterranean region is being described as a wild fire hotspot.

And you know, we have spoken, CNN spoken to experts here in Turkey, you say that the majority of fires are usually started by people. It could be

negligence, it could be deliberate, whatever the cause is what we are seeing right now, this kind of scale, the ferocity of these fires.

This is what they are blaming on the current weather conditions that are caused that are caused by climate change. This is what is exacerbating

these fires back here.

ANDERSON: We're seeing the extreme weather being fires, or floods all over the region and beyond. Thank you. Coming up after the break, excitement

builds on the streets of Paris Saint-German as the South Paris I has seen the club in Paris, Paris Saint-German unveiled its new star player, Lionel

Messi more on that coming up.


ANDERSON: its official one of football's all-time great if not the all-time greats Lionel Messi, now part of Paris Saint-German after leaving

Barcelona. He says it will be an incredible year as he is yet another Champions League title with his new club Messi signed a two year contract

reportedly worth $82 million.

He's joining a star studded team and that is an understatement including a reunion with his former teammate Neymar. PSG fans love it. They celebrated

earlier and Messi was presented outside the stadium of Paris Saint-German and they're already making a mad dash to scoop up.

Messi's new number 30 Jersey well PSG supporters are elated for fans of Messi's formal club - formal club, a painful reality is setting in. World

Sports Don Riddle has that.


DON RIDDLE, CNN WORLD SPORTS (voice over): It wasn't supposed to end like this. After all the goals and the trophies the excitement and the joy

Lionel Messi's love affair with Barcelona ended suddenly and in tears.

Barcelona is almost all he's ever known. Messi joined La Masia iconic youth academy at the age of 13. And they live large in time grew up to become the

heartbeat of one of the most famous clubs in the world. His trophy collection is more befitting Aladdin's cave than anything most football

players could ever dream of.

Four Champions League titles 10 times LaLiga winner, and record six Ballon doors. Nobody has played more games for Barcelona no scored more goals for

any club anywhere. At one point he was the driving force behind what was considered to be one of the greatest club teams ever assembled.


RIDDLE (voice over): His skills were mesmeric, his ball control and magnetic. Messi's understanding of the game was instinctive, an

extraordinary combination that made him one of the all-time greats. For much of his career in Spain, he was judged alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, who

played for Barcelona as bitter rivals Real Madrid.

Both were exceptional players, but they were different. If for now, though, was a more ruthless goal scorer, then perhaps Messi was a more intelligent

player on the field certainly a more private man off it. He was never braggadocios but he was an effortless entertainer with a knack for

conjuring decisive plays in memorable moments.

It seemed that Lionel Messi could do anything he wanted, except in the end, the thing he really wanted. Messi couldn't stay in Barcelona even though

he'd agreed to half his wages, it simply become too expensive, almost pricing himself out of the market entirely.

His arrival in the French capital confirms that Paris Saint-German with Qatari backing is where the power lies in footballs New World Order. And

the sight of Messi his image being stripped from the facade and his old home in Spain lies bare that stark reality.

Messi has quickly moved on his Barcelona love affair is over. It's not the ending that football romantics were hoping for. Perhaps he was weeping for

the beautiful game. Don Riddle, CNN.


ANDERSON: Well, my next guest is a sports journalist and the Author of the upcoming book "The Dilly Dong Bell". Lee Wellings writes about the high

stakes deals and mismanagement of elite sports including football as European Club shut out hundreds of million millions of dollars to fill

their rosters.

Well, what a day to have Lee Wellings with us live from England via Skype. It's good to have you mate. Look fortunately, as a free agent he commanded

no transfer fee of course, for PSG. But boy, they are still lining his pockets. What do you make of this deal and what it means for the French

Football Club Catriona of course?

LEE WELLINGS, SPORTS JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: This is one of the biggest deals in football history, isn't it? I'm fan of Messi, one of the great

players, some would say he is the greatest player, there are only two places he could have gone Becky.

Paris Saint-German or to Manchester City, they are the only two teams with the money we know. That's why he left Barcelona because with the situation

there and the structure, as they called it, they couldn't afford to pay him anymore.

But I do also feel that we should remember that there might have been if not an inevitability, always a really good likelihood that Lionel Messi

would have ended up in Paris if he if he didn't go to America, or indeed straight to Qatar.

Because I don't think he was going to stay at Barcelona forever, certainly not when he sort of 36, 37, 38 and in two or three years' time, maybe he

just went a little bit earlier than we originally expected. And this is extremely good news for Qatar, because they've had two things in the last

few months.

That will really help them it was going to be a very difficult and turbulent time in many ways the lead up to the World Cup, the European

Super League is one of them. Because the fact that Paris Saint-Germain weren't part of that, when it came to a head was very good reputation, as

you know very well, this is so much about soft power.

And now they've got this absolute superstar, who's going to help so much for their reputation so much as an ambassador, he's going to be hand in

hand with cat urges you watch over these 15 months as we move in towards the World Cup, and maybe good to point out immediately because sometimes we

forget that World Cups in 15 months' time in November, of course 2022 is not in the sun.

Throughout next year, I think we're going to see such a spotlight on Qatar. And this broadly will help no amount of goals that Lionel Messi could score

because all the problems Qatar will have.

ANDERSON: Described by one journalist today to this point as Qatar's greatest promotional asset in the run up to the Qatar 2022 World Cup and I

just want I was there recently; I did some work with the head of the Supreme committee for delivering that event and indeed talked to the CEO of

the event.

Two men you will know very, very well has an alpha what is the head of the Supreme committee and we talked about what the World Cup means to Qatar

because there will be people around the world who say look, you know why in the middle of the Gulf. It's so hot. Nobody cares about football that Well,

this was his response.


THAWADI: It's the opportunity for the world to see us, for who we are a hospitable, friendly, sports crazy nation. It's and more importantly, like

I said, it's our you know, probably the world's opportunity for the first time after the after the Pandemic to truly celebrate football.



ANDERSON: So, a deal made in heaven to a certain extent for PSG who are, let's be frank, you know, twinned in a hit to, to the Qatar infrastructure,

which of course is the backbone of that world cup. There. You talked about Man City earlier on.

And I do want to just bring up that club because of course Man City is owned by Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi, PSG owned by the Qatari sporting

investment organization. Like it's a very, you know, twinned it with the, with the Qataris.

And you've got, you know, until recently, these were two countries that were not getting on at all; there was a boycott of Qatar by other countries

around the region, the UAE included. And these are two clubs who have do have enormous financial minds; they still have to play by the financial

fair rules, at least on paper, right? Are they doing so?

WELLINGS: Well, we certainly heard from Nasser Al-Khelaifi man in charge of Paris Saint-Germain. They are complying with financial fair play. Of

course, there were rules in place that will mean that they need to adhere to that, as per the rules set out.

But also accusations will constantly come in that well, is it entirely fair that he has such a prominent role within UAE for two who set financial fair

play? This is something that he must take questions on a must answer. So one thing I would say very strongly back to the suggestion that the media

shouldn't be putting such difficult questions to him is that I think he's got that completely wrong.

He actually needs to take those questions and provide the right answers, because that will help. I've always thought that right through my dealings

with Qatar, I've said many times, don't hide, if you have nothing that you need to be concerned about, or worried about, or in any way ashamed about,

and say so and be clear, and that will help with your reputation.

And they do need to comply, but I don't think any bubble funds, feel that the rules that are set out are anywhere near perfect. And we know that

there's a reality Becky, the reality is that Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City and to an extent well, Madrid and Barcelona and Manchester

and Liverpool, these clubs have more money particularly PSG and Manchester City and will win more trophies because of that.

I mean, I love the thought that football and I talked about it in the book is has this wonderful opportunity for that's what football clubs come from.

They come from communities Paris Saint-German comes from a community in Paris, that is not a rich community, one place that the game for the

wealthy PSG important to a lot of people.

ANDERSON: Yes absolutely.

WELLINGS: You know big clubs are going to keep winning and the money is going to keep coming in from the Middle East.

ANDERSON: You've done my job. So you know I'm going to have to wind you up. So I've got to take a break, otherwise, I won't be able to pay for the

show, right? So very, very, very briefly do you? Do you believe that Man City wish that they had got Messi? Were they talking to him? Did they miss

a trick here?

WELLINGS: I don't know for sure whether they were talking to him, but they definitely would have had an interest in him. You don't fail to have an

interest in a player of that standing with the money that you have. I think as I say there's an inevitability that he was going to go to Paris Saint-


At some point with that Qatar link, as it's just a little bit earlier than I thought and obviously it is upsetting for delayed Barcelona, but he can

dry his eyes, because there's certainly plenty of money for now. There'll be a bit of glory as well.

ANDERSON: Absolutely. Good stuff well, always a pleasure. Good to catch up with you. Thank you very much indeed sleep well in the house.

Well, it's really students will soon be back in school and taking tests but health officials say the most important test should be given before they

even set front in school details on that after the break. And a group of experts seek to rebuild the Lebanese capital devastated by last year's port

blast why the Beirut Heritage Initiative believes it is crucial to preserve the city's heritage more than that, after this.



ANDERSON: Well, it's a testing situation for parents of school aged kids anywhere not least, in Israel. They are being told to test their kids for

COVID 48 hours before the start of the regular school year on September the 1st. Now Israel says it's still planning to get children back into the

classrooms on time, but it doesn't want to leave the door open to a COVID surge.

So students and staff will be required to wear masks and socially distant. CNN's Hadas Gold standing by for us in Jerusalem and clear concern, as

COVID cases, surge as I understand it locally. Just explain what's going on?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very much so - very much so and just like so many governments around the world Israel, the Israeli government is trying

to balance having as normal as start of a school year as possible while trying to keep this COVID surge that the country is seeing away from the

schools of course schooling such an important part of the everyday life for so many people.

So the Israeli government released what they said was a six fold plan to try to handle Coronavirus in schools. As part of this 1.9 million students

will be sent home testing kits. Their parents will administer 48 hours before the start of school on September 1st - try to catch any sort of

COVID cases before a student steps foot into the classroom.

Then during the school year if a student tests positive, they of course will quarantine the rest of their class will also all receive tests and

they will all receive tests even if they test negative for seven days try to catch any further cases.

As students and staff will also all be required to wear masks? They will have to socially distance and they will be encouraged to have classes

outdoors. Now Israel as you noted is facing a surge in Coronavirus cases that levels not seen in since February and March.

In the last 24 hours 5755 people have tested positive there are now 400 people listed in serious condition Becky. It's reaching such a level that

the U.S. CDC has now put Israel at the level four, the highest level risks advising Americans not to travel to Israel because of the threat of the

Coronavirus Becky.

ANDERSON: Hadas Gold is in Jerusalem for you. Well, Israel's top diplomat - thank you - is meeting with Moroccan officials in the Capital Rabat. And

this is a big deal Yair Lapid first Israeli Foreign Minister to officially visit the North African countries since two nation's upgraded ties last

year and said yes to re launching direct flights.

So overall it's been a year since the historic Abraham Accords opened the door of a new era of relations between Arab countries and Israel. It was

sold as a new way to approach the Palestinian conflict. All of that though, has been put into question since the 11th day Gaza war making some

observers so wonder whether the normalization deals are really just about business.

Well, the Beirut Port blast left an enormous hole in the heart of Lebanon, emotionally, and physically. Survivors still want answers and they want

justice. The blast left around 1000 historical buildings badly damaged homes, apartment buildings, 19th century mansions that a lot of it.

That's according to the Beirut Heritage Initiative, a group of financial and communication experts who are determined to rebuild this devastated

city. We spoke with one of the founding members.


JOY KANAAN, FOUNDING MEMBER, BEIRUT HERITAGE INITIATIVE: You kill a nation when you kill its heritage basically. We've seen Lebanon go through

struggles, many struggles. And it hasn't started I think on all the - that started many, many years back.

Unfortunately, we saw our banking sector go down. We saw our education system go down. We saw Medical Center go down.


KANAAN: And then as the - came on all the scores, we saw a large portion of art hurt that just completely dissipate in a few seconds. Where we believe

we preserve our county so that we give our children the choice whether or not they want to stay in this country or not?

Those of us who stay those of us who choose to stay; we stay because we have a mission. Unfortunately, or fortunately for us, we are seasons post

trauma rebuilders. We've had a lot of experience through the years like rebuilding and rebuilding, and we don't give up.

I'm not sure if this is the good part or the bad part. But we hang on to this country. And we hang on to that sort of very rich culture because I

think that's the only thing that we have left. It's very important to involve the experts from the City from Lebanon. We have the notion and the

knowledge we need to be involved we cannot just be spectators.


ANDERSON: If you are a regular viewer of this show, you know that we regularly report on a Lebanon that is in the midst of economic calamity and

much of the area around where the port blast occurred has yet to be fully repaired. If you would like to support Lebanon and donate to causes like

the Beirut Heritage Initiative you can of course, visit their website. I'm Becky Anderson. Thank you for joining us it is a very good evening.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST: Fear is the Afghan government could collapse in just a matter. Here is what's coming off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not going well at all, people are petrified.