Italy stands ready to host as Musk talks up Zuckerberg rumble


Tesla boss Elon Musk said on Friday his planned cage fight with billionaire rival Mark Zuckerberg would be held at an "epic location" with an ancient Roman theme, as Italy indicated it was ready to stage the scrap.

Italy's Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said in a statement that he had spoken to Musk about hosting a "large charitable and historically evocative event".

He did not specify what the event would be, or when it might be held, saying only that it would not take place in Rome.

Opposition politicians denounced his willingness to let the social media and tech moguls fight it out in Italy.

"I find it simply mind-boggling that the Italian cultural heritage is being made available to two billionaires who want to indulge themselves like foolish teenagers," said Carlo Calenda, a former industry minister and head of Azione party.

"There are things that simply are not for sale. One of these is the dignity and history of a great nation," he said.

Musk and Zuckerberg have been egging each other into a mixed martial arts (MMA) cage match since June.

At one point, Musk said Rome's ancient Colosseum would host the fight, but Italy ruled that out. However, the owner of media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, said on Friday that the clash would nonetheless have an ancient Roman theme.

"Everything in the camera frame will be ancient Rome, so nothing modern at all. I spoke to the PM of Italy and the Minister of Culture. They have agreed on an epic location," the Tesla CEO (TSLA.O) said in a post on X.

Sangiuliano said on Friday that any event would respect and safeguard Italy's heritage sites.

"It will not take place in Rome. Above all, a substantial amount, many million euros, is expected to be donated to two important Italian pediatric hospitals for strengthening facilities and scientific research to combat children's diseases," he said in a statement.

"It will also be an opportunity to promote globally our history and archaeological, artistic, and cultural heritage," he added.

Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper suggested that if the fight happened, it might be staged in Pompeii, near Naples.

Musk threw down the gauntlet to Zuckerberg in a June 20 post, saying he was "up for a cage match" with his business rival, who is trained in jiujitsu.

A day later, Zuckerberg, who has posted pictures of matches he has won on his company's Instagram platform, asked Musk to "send location" for the proposed throwdown.

 Cristiano Ronaldo guided 10-man Al-Nassr to their first-ever Arab Club Champions Cup title after scoring twice in a 2-1 extra-time win over fellow Saudi side Al-Hilal on Saturday.

Ronaldo failed to land a trophy last season after his move to Al-Nassr, who finished runners-up in the Saudi Pro League, but the 38-year-old scored six times in the tournament to finish as its top scorer en route to the title.

The tournament is played by top Arab clubs in the region and included teams from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria.

The star-studded Al-Nassr side had many chances to score in the first half with close season signings Sadio Mane, Seko Fofana, and Marcelo Brozovic all denied by goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais.

The game at King Fahd Sports City stadium remained scoreless until six minutes into the second half when Al-Hilal's Malcolm crossed the ball and found fellow Brazilian Michael, who put his side ahead with a free header.

To rub salt into their wounds, the 27-year-old even produced the Ronaldo goal celebration as he ran to the corner flag and leaped into the air.

That seemed to fire up Ronaldo and the Portugal captain equalized in the 74th minute when he got on the end of a low cross from right-back Sultan Al-Ghannam to score for a fifth game in a row.

Al-Nassr defender Abdulelah Al-Amri was sent off in the second half before Nawaf Boushal was given his marching orders while on the bench for arguing with an official, but they held on to take the game to extra time.

Ronaldo then doubled the lead in the first half of extra time when he pounced on a rebound off the crossbar and headed home with the goalkeeper off his line.

There were concerns, however, when Ronaldo was carted off the field with an apparent injury after a collision in the second period of extra time -- just two days before their Saudi Pro League opener against Al-Ettifaq.

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