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Coronavirus in sport: More events cut, Olympics ‘still on’, Messi’s message to supporters

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We round up the latest news as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the sporting calendar.

The coronavirus pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the sporting calendar on Saturday with more major events and competitions being disrupted.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 rapidly spreading across the globe, it has resulted in the postponement of competitions worldwide as governments attempt to combat the pandemic.

A small number of events still went ahead, but sports stars, teams and indeed supporters were otherwise left to find other means of entertainment.

With the number of confirmed cases worldwide now totalling over 155,000, we round up all the latest news and updates.

Germany‘s prestige friendly with Italy later this month became the latest football fixture to bite the dust, with the majority of upcoming international matches having now been wiped out.

More major organisations have halted all footballing activities until a later date, including QatarMorocco and Egypt.

A small number of competitions, most notably the A-LeagueRussian Premier League and Mexico’s Liga MX, did manage to go ahead as planned.

 

Indeed, NRL games also avoided the cut, as did a handful of Super Rugby matches before an indefinite ban was put in place later in the day.

Another competition to fall was Australia‘s one-day international series against New Zealand, which was already being played behind closed doors.

With New Zealand’s government introducing strict protocols to attempt to slow the spread of the virus, the Black Caps – along with Super Rugby side Highlanders – returned home from Australia and Argentina respectively in order to beat the new restrictions, which will mean any new arrival to the country, even if they are a citizen, has to self-isolate for 14 days.

READ   Richarlison looks set to stay at Everton despite £85m Barcelona link

 

With the top-four tiers of English football being shelved until at least early April, there was plenty of focus on the National League as six games were given the green light.

There was some controversy in Argentina as River Plate‘s Copa Superliga clash with Atletico Tucuman was suspended after the home side refused to open their stadium.

Independiente‘s tie with Velez Sarsfield was played out in full, albeit behind closed doors, with the hosts claiming a 1-0 victory.

 

In Italy, Napoli urged their supporters to sing from their balconies in unison as Fiorentina‘s Patrick Cutrone and two more Sampdoria players tested positive for COVID-19.

Manchester City‘s Benjamin Mendy revealed a negative test result after recently self-isolating, but Carlo Ancelotti and Angelo Ogbonna questioned the Premier League’s handling of the outbreak, while Jordan Pickford denied reports he is self-isolating.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, meanwhile, claimed the competition should be “void” – a suggestion Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher quickly dismissed.

 

The lack of football did not stop certain clubs from keeping supporters entertained, though, with LaLiga side Leganes posting live updates of a fictitious match against Real Valladolid, which they won 2-1.

READ   Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal opens up on public feud with Lionel Messi

Perhaps inspired by their Spanish counterparts, Southampton got Manchester City involved in an online game of noughts and crosses to help fill the void.

The downtime also gave football stars a chance to recuperate, with Sergio Ramos and Alexis Sanchez among those to post images of their extra-curricular activities.

 

Others, such as Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and FIFA president Gianni Infantino, opted to use social media to educate their followers on how to properly wash their hands, while Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi used his profile to echo the sentiments of Cristiano Ronaldo in calling for people to follow the guidance of health organisations.

As Ronaldo and Jurgen Klopp were praised by the World Health Organisation for “protecting people from coronavirus”, former United States president Barack Obama hailed a host of NBA stars – including Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson – for donating large amounts to help support arena staff during the league’s hiatus.

 

UFC superstar Conor McGregor labelled the pandemic “a stupid f****** virus”, but later moved to clarify his aunt did not die after contracting the disease after previously suggesting as such.

And in more positive news, Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe revealed his country still plan for the 2020 Olympic Games to go ahead in Tokyo, starting in late July.

The International Olympic Committee will have the final say, but ABE is confident the Games will be staged “without problem”.

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Liga

2020/2021 Laliga Season To Begin On September 12

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Javier Tebas

The President of the Spanish Football Association, Laliga, Javier Tebas says, the 2020/2021 football season will begin on September 12, 2020.

Speaking in an online forum organised by Spanish newspaper Marca on Friday May 29, the president said, “God willing that day will be September 12 and hopefully we’ll be able to say we have overcome this most difficult period but at least we will be better prepared.”
“The important thing will be when the season finishes although we’ll only be able to congratulate ourselves when we start the following season,” Tebas added.
The information comes after government approval last week. With the current season set to start up again on June 11 and finish on July 19, all matches will be played without spectators although fixtures are yet to be officially confirmed. FC Sevilla will take on Real Betis FC in the opening match. Barcelona led Real Madrid by two points at the top of the table when La Liga was halted in March.
Spain’s top-flight division one football championship was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic
The president also revealed that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, organisers have been working hard behind the scenes for the restart the season practical, although many of the logistical problems will depend on how the country’s regional governments are easing lockdown measures.
Going by him, there are more than 130 people at La Liga working so that everything can be done, in a new way: travelling, organisation, everything.
Restrictions are gradually being lifted across Spanish territories, with several areas now having moved from Phase One to Phase Two.
Tebas has led the campaign to get the season back on track since it was postponed on March 12, warning that clubs could lose up to one billion euros ($1.11 billion) collectively if the remaining 11 rounds of matches could not be completed.
Nevertheless, the German Bundesliga has already played three match days following its restart earlier this month, while the English Premier League and Italy’s Serie A are also set to return in mid-June. But the top-flight seasons in France, Belgium and the Netherlands have all been<

READ   'I promised two goals' - Neymar lifts lid on Barca's historic 6-1 Champions League win over PSG

 

By Etienne Mainimo

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Coronavirus: LaLiga Fest raises €625k as Pique talks of ‘invincible’ unity

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LaLiga stars and musicians came together for LaLiga Fest on Saturday, where a huge sum was raised to buy medical equipment.

LaLiga Fest raised more than €625,000 on Saturday as Barcelona stalwart Gerard Pique spoke of the need for unity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Where Saturday nights would normally consist of fixtures in Spain’s top flight, the live action was restricted to performances on an internet stream.

A host of LaLiga stars – including Pique – addressed supporters, while musicians performed at the online festival.

Fans were encouraged to donate to the Banco Santander Foundation, where the money would be used to buy medical equipment to combat COVID-19.

There have been over 72,000 confirmed cases of the virus in Spain, with close to 6,000 deaths.

The total raised ticked past €625,000 as the festival ended, although donations would continue to be welcomed until Sunday afternoon.

Barca’s Pique was the most high-profile star to address those watching, as he claimed players and supporters alike could be “invincible together”.

READ   Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal opens up on public feud with Lionel Messi

“Without training, at home and trying to stay in shape, it is not easy,” the World Cup winner said. “We will get through it between all of us.

 

“It is a difficult situation, but doing something like what LaLiga is doing makes us feel proud of the players and the fans.

“It is something unique that means any LaLiga fan is able to contribute their grain of sand. I am very happy to be able to participate in such an initiative.

“There is rivalry when we are on the field of play, but when people need us, we are united.

“There will be a cost, it is difficult, we will have difficult times. Others will suffer it in person, but we have to make it through together. We are all invincible together.”

READ   Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane defends his side's style of play

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Coronavirus: Ex-Barcelona goalkeeper Rustu Recber hospitalised with COVID-19

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Rustu Recber returned a positive coronavirus test and has been hospitalised in Turkey.

Turkey great Rustu Recber has been hospitalised after testing positive for coronavirus, his wife Isil has revealed.

Goalkeeper Rustu spent much of his club career at Fenerbahce, including a loan stint with the Turkish Super Lig giants during a three-year stay at Barcelona.

A star of the 2002 World Cup, Rustu played just seven times for Barca – all within the 2003-04 season – but retired aged 39 in 2012 with 120 international caps to his name.

The 46-year-old’s wife Isil posted on her Instagram page on Saturday to inform fans of her husband’s diagnosis.

“I would like to give you more positive news while sharing the truth in the most transparent way, but I’m sorry to say that my husband Rustu is hospitalised with the diagnosis of COVID-19,” she wrote.

 

“We are shocked by the rapid symptoms that developed suddenly when everything was normal. These are critical and difficult times.

READ   'I promised two goals' - Neymar lifts lid on Barca's historic 6-1 Champions League win over PSG

“May Allah give emergency relief to all patients, including my dear husband.

“My only request is that people can be a little more conscientious and respectful in the process. In the tests we have done, my daughter and son were negative and only my husband was positive.

“For this reason, we are at home while he’s in hospital, and we are not allowed to see him. In fact, this is the most difficult part, not being able to be with him.

“Allah is great and is entrusted to him and the Turkish doctors. I hope this will pass.”

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