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Coronavirus: Tottenham Players To Resume Training While Following Social Distancing

Tottenham Hotspur has become the latest side to announce a return to training following the suspension of football due to the coronavirus pandemic. The side has clarified that training will start in a limited capacity and all the players will be following social distancing guidelines. “The club shall be making a limited number of pitches available at our training centre for members of our first-team squad to use for individual running sessions on a strict rotational basis,” Tottenham said in an official statement.

“No more than one player per pitch will be permitted at any one time to undertake on-pitch exercise, with only a restricted number of the squad coming to the Training Centre each day,” it added.

Training of players will begin from later today and the club has clarified that each player will be travelling independently. Players would be required to arrive at the facility already dressed in training gear and will head home immediately once the training is over.

Before the suspension of the Premier League, Tottenham was placed at the eighth spot in the standings with 41 points.

All sporting action across the world has come to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic. Premier League was suspended indefinitely last month.

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Bundesliga Restart Blow As 3 Test Positive For Coronavirus At Cologne

“Cologne will not confirm any names out of respect for the privacy of those affected.”

The club said it would continue to train in preparation for the campaign to resume, with further tests to be carried out as part of the league’s health and safety protocol.

“We now see in everyday life that our concept recognises and reduces risks at an early stage,” said Tim Meyer, head of the German league’s medical task force.

“We are convinced that with our concept, we can enable players to practice their profession with the best possible protection against infection.”

The Bundesliga had set a target return date of May 9 but still needs permission from the German government.

A delay on the decision this week meant a resumption would not be possible before May 16.

A final decision is expected next Wednesday.

The German league confirmed Thursday that clubs had started testing players for the virus as part of plans to get the season up and running again.

It has been suspended since March 13.

‘Will go down’

Clubs returned to training at the start of April while adhering to social distancing guidelines and games would be played behind closed doors, with large-scale public events banned in Germany until August 31.

Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke warned last weekend that “the entire Bundesliga will go down” unless the league restarts.

Germany’s top clubs are desperate for the season to be completed by June 30 in order to claim an instalment of television money worth 300 million euros ($325 million).

A return in May would make the Bundesliga the first top league in Europe to resume as Germany cautiously eases lockdown measures.

Nevertheless, there is heated debate about whether the Bundesliga should resume amid the pandemic which has so far claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people in Germany.

Paris Saint-Germain were declared Ligue 1 champions on Thursday after French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced sport could not resume in France before September.

Meanwhile, English Premier League clubs on Friday reconfirmed their commitment to finish the season subject to coronavirus restrictions being lifted.

There are still 92 games remaining. They will be behind closed doors with neutral venues suggested.

Italy’s 20 Serie A clubs on Friday also reiterated their unanimous desire to complete the season despite sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora this week saying the chances of restarting were “increasingly narrow”.

In Spain, La Liga is planning to start testing players for the coronavirus between Tuesday and Thursday next week, after which they would then be able to resume individual training programmes within 48 hours.

“I hope that we can start playing in June. We have until June 28,” league president Javier Tebas said.

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Judge Rules Against US Women’s Soccer Team In Equal Pay Case

A federal judge dismissed the United States women’s soccer team’s bid for equal pay on Friday, rejecting claims the players had been underpaid in a crushing defeat for the reigning world champions. In a 32-page ruling, Judge Gary Klausner of the US District Court for Central California in Los Angeles tossed the women’s claim of pay discrimination, ruling in favour of the United States Soccer Federation. Klausner did allow the women’s case for unfair treatment in areas such as travel, housing and medical support to proceed to trial, set for June 16 in Los Angeles.

But the judge said the equal pay claims — the central plank of the case — had been dismissed because there was evidence the women had turned down an offer to be paid along the lines of the US men’s team.

“The history of negotiations between the parties demonstrates that the WNT rejected an offer to be paid under the same pay-to-play structure as the MNT, and the WNT was willing to forgo higher bonuses for benefits, such as greater base compensation and the guarantee of a higher number of contracted players,” Klausner wrote.

“Accordingly, plaintiffs cannot now retroactively deem their CBA (collective bargaining agreement) worse than the MNT CBA by reference to what they would have made had they been paid under the MNT’s pay-to-play terms structure when they themselves rejected such a structure,” he said.

‘Shock, disappointment’

The US women were left stunned by their defeat on the pay issue. The women had been seeking back pay of $66 million under the Equal Pay Act.

Prominent US women’s team star Megan Rapinoe said after learning of the court’s decision that the battle is not over.

“We will never stop fighting for EQUALITY,” she wrote on Twitter.

A spokeswoman for the players reacted with dismay following Friday’s ruling.

“We are shocked and disappointed with today’s decision, but we will not give up our hard work for equal pay,” spokeswoman Molly Levinson said.

“We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women who play this sport will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender.

“We have learned that there are tremendous obstacles to change; we know that it takes bravery and courage and perseverance to stand up to them.”

The increasingly acrimonious lawsuit had taken a dramatic turn in March, when a filing by lawyers for the federation argued that US men’s team players required a “higher level of skill based on speed and strength” than the women.

The filing triggered outrage amongst the women’s players while influential sponsors such as Coca-Cola voiced disgust at the remarks.

USSF President Carlos Cordeiro later resigned following the uproar, with Rapinoe accusing the USSF of “blatant sexism” in its legal filings.

The US women, who clinched back-to-back World Cup wins with victory at last year’s finals in France, had based their claim for back pay in the disparities between prize money distributed by FIFA at the men’s and women’s World Cups.

Germany’s men won $35 million for their victory in the 2014 World Cup while France earned $38 million after triumphing in Russia in 2018.

The United States women, victors in the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, earned total prize money of $6 million over the two tournaments.

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Michael Robinson, Former Liverpool Striker, Dies At 61

Liverpool’s former Republic of Ireland striker Michael Robinson, who became a well-known commentator in Spain, has died aged 61, his family announced on Tuesday. Robinson, who settled in Spain after his retirement and had an extensive media career, succumbed to cancer first diagnosed in 2018. He passed away at his home in Marbella. “With tremendous sadness we inform you of Michael’s death,” his family announced on Twitter. “It leaves us with a great emptiness, but also countless memories, full of the same love that you have shown him,” they said.

“We will be eternally grateful to you for making this man SO HAPPY, he never walked alone. Thank you.”

After spells with Preston North End and Manchester City, Robinson featured in the 1983 FA Cup final for Brighton, before moving to Anfield.

He was part of the Liverpool squad that captured the league, League Cup and European Cup treble in 1984.

“We’re deeply saddened by the passing of former player Michael Robinson, aged 61,” Liverpool tweeted.

“The thoughts of everybody at Liverpool Football Club are with Michael’s family and friends at this sad time. Rest in peace, Michael.”

After Liverpool he joined Queens Park Rangers, before ending his career with Spanish side Osasuna.

After retiring in 1989 he remained in Spain to become one of the country’s most distinguished football pundits.

According to Spanish daily El Pais, Robinson “revolutionised the way football was analysed”.

“He was with us on thousands of afternoons of football, recounting incredible anecdotes, and showing us a way of life beyond football,” the paper wrote.

“Thank you Michael Robinson. We will miss you. You’ll never walk alone.”

Robinson represented the Republic of Ireland 24 times, scoring four goals.

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Bundesliga Could Return By “Middle Or End Of May”, Say Germany’s Sports Ministers

“The German Football League must create and enforce the strictest hygienic and medical conditions, and monitor them with appropriate measures,” added the statement.

German Chancellor Merkel will meet state leaders in Berlin on Thursday, when it is hoped the Bundesliga will get the green light to resume.

All football in Germany ground to a halt in mid March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the German Football League (DFL) announced it is ready to resume from May 9, albeit behind closed doors with tight hygiene measures and players tested regularly.

A return in May would make the Bundesliga the first top league in Europe to resume as Germany cautiously eases lockdown measures.

Key politicians, including health minister Jens Spahn, have backed the league’s return plans, which are currently being reviewed by the Ministry of Labour.

However, both newspapers Bild and Munich-based Sueddeutsche Zeitung claim May 9 is “probably” too soon for a restart.

Last weekend, Borussia Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke warned “the entire Bundesliga will go down” unless the league restarts.

“It will no longer exist in the form we have known it,” Watzke told Sky Sports News, warning that several clubs could go under.

Germany’s top clubs are desperate for the league season to be completed by June 30 in order to claim an instalment of television money worth 300 million euros ($325 million).

Magazine Kicker claims 13 of the 36 clubs in the top two leagues are on the verge of insolvency due to the crisis.

Nevertheless, there is heated debate about whether the Bundesliga should resume amid the pandemic which has so far claimed just under 6,000 lives in Germany.

Annalena Baerbock, the co-leader of the Green Party, says “it is deeply unfair” for professional football to restart when “a child is not even allowed to play on a lonely swing” with playgrounds still closed.

Christian Seifert, CEO of the German League, says such arguments are understandable.

“The fact that the Bundesliga can play again means it is compared to other areas” in German society, said Seifert, but “what we are doing is not arrogant or presumptuous”.

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French Football, Rugby Seasons Off Until September, Says French PM

Professional football, rugby and other sports in France cannot resume until the end of the summer because of coronavirus restrictions, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Tuesday. The announcement was made as the government unveiled its plans to gradually end the lockdown in France from May 11. The announcement makes the completion of the 2019-2020 Ligue 1 football season and Top 14 rugby union campaign appear increasingly unlikely.

However France’s sports ministry told AFP after the speech that sports fixtures could not take place even behind closed doors before the end of July, leaving open the possibility that some matches could still be played in August.

In an address to the National Assembly, Philippe said: “The 2019-2020 professional sports leagues, notably football, cannot yet restart.

“I would like to be precise here, no large sports gathering or any gathering of 5,000 people or more, needing the permission of the local police and long prior arrangements, will be allowed before September,” Philippe added.

Ligue 1 had outlined its intention to resume matches in June, with players being recalled to training as of May 11.

The French football league will hold a teleconference later Tuesday to draw its conclusions from the government’s announcement.

The president of one Ligue 1 club told AFP he believed the season would now be abandoned.

“It’s highly likely that we stop it now,” the president said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

If the season is abandoned, it begs the question of which teams would qualify for next season’s Champions League and Europa League and whether teams would be relegated.

‘At least things are clear’

French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet has said he hopes both the French Cup and League Cup finals can be played before the league season restarts, whenever that is.

Paris Saint-Germain are scheduled to face Lyon in the League Cup final and are then due to play Saint-Etienne in the French Cup final.

The co-president of the footballers’ union, Sylvain Kastendeuch, described the government’s announcement as responsible.

“The government understands that the economic crisis cannot be placed ahead of the public health one,” he said in a statement.

French rugby union federation president Bernard Laporte said the announcement gave clubs clarity.

“I thought football would be allowed to restart behind closed doors, but I’m not surprised,” Laporte said.

“But its a real headache (because) testing, social distancing, is even tougher in rugby,” he said.

“It’s clear now anyway, nothing until September.”

Tour de France crowds conundrum

The Tour de France is however set to go ahead, albeit with restrictions on the number of spectators.

Organisers have already moved cycling’s showpiece event from its traditional mid-summer slot and it is now scheduled to start in Nice on August 29.

The restrictions announced by the government will impact the number of people allowed to watch the race in any one place.

Huge crowds would normally be expected to gather at the start, and at the finish on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Tour de France organisers ASO limited crowds at the start of the Paris-Nice eight day race in February, where there was a restricted number of fans at the Versailles start and none at all at the finish and start lines after that.

Around 23,000 people have died so far of coronavirus-linked illnesses in France.

Schools and shops will re-open in May but restaurants and bars will remain closed for now, as will large museums, cinemas, theatres and concert halls.

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Swiss To Try PSG chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi, Ex-FIFA No.2 Jerome Valcke In September

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and FIFA‘s former secretary general Jerome Valcke will be tried in September in a corruption case linked to the attribution of broadcasting rights, the Swiss judiciary said Tuesday. The two will be tried in the southeastern Swiss city of Bellinzona along with a third, unnamed man, for criminal mismanagement, incitement to criminal mismanagement, falsifying documents and corruption, the federal criminal court said. Al-Khelaifi, who is also the boss of Qatari television channel BeIN Sports, is suspected of giving inappropriate gifts to Valcke in order to secure broadcasting rights to prestigious events, including the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.

In exchange Valcke, formerly ex-FIFA boss Sepp Blatter‘s right-hand man, gained, among other things, rent-free access to a luxury property on the Italian island of Sardinia.

After the date was set on Tuesday, Al-Khelaifi’s lawyers issued a statement insisting the case was “completely unfounded”, and insisted the charge against their client was “manifestly artificial.”

They also indicated that they had requested the recusal of prosecutors in the case and had filed a criminal complaint related to leaks, “making it uncertain whether the case will proceed at all.”

The indictment, which was published in February, accused the third man, described as “a businessman in the sports rights sector”, of bribery over a 1.25-million-euro ($1.35 million) payment to Valcke’s company Sportunited LLC.

Valcke also stands accused of exploiting his position at FIFA between 2013 and 2015 to influence the award of media rights for Italy and Greece for various World Cup and other tournaments scheduled between 2018 and 2030 “in order to favour media partners that he preferred,” in exchange for the payments from the unnamed businessman, according to the indictment.

He has also been charged with falsifying documents, after Sportsunited’s balance sheet listed those payments as loans.

While Al-Khelaifi was not indicted for bribery, prosecutors have laid out a serious case of incitement.

It alleges that Valcke was refunded a down-payment of around 500,000 euros that he had made to a third party on the purchase of a villa in Sardinia, after Al-Khelaifi purchased the villa through a company instead of Valcke.

Switzerland’s judiciary last week rejected a request from Al-Khelaifi for three federal prosecutors in the case to be recused, over claims that during a hearing on December 6, 2019, he had not been given enough time to address all of the aspects of the case he deemed were necessary.

Valcke, who worked with Blatter from 2003 to 2015, has already been banned from football for 10 years for failing to cooperate with investigators over the resale of World Cup tickets and inflated expenses.

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Lyon President Jean-Michel Aulas “Not Sure” Ligue 1 Season Is Over

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas on Tuesday said that he was “not sure” the Ligue 1 season would be cancelled, despite French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe saying that professional football could not be played in the country until September. Earlier on Tuesday, Philippe said that the “2019-20 professional sports leagues, notably football, cannot restart”.

However, France’s sports ministry told AFP after the speech that sports fixtures could not take place even behind closed doors before the end of July, leaving open the possibility that some matches could still be played in August.

Aulas thinks more league matches could still be played, with even a series of play-offs to decide European places and relegation a possibility.

“Does this mean the championship is over? I’m not sure,” the often outspoken Aulas told AFP.

“Since the championship is not finished, I think that it’s necessary to do everything to find an alternative solution, by playing a certain number of play-offs during the month of August or postponing next season until September 15.”

Lyon sit seventh in the Ligue 1 table, 10 points adrift of the Champions League qualification spots held by runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille and Rennes.

European football’s governing body UEFA last week said that countries completing their domestic leagues remained “the ideal scenario” and urged leagues to find ways of restarting “with a different format”, possibly play-offs.

The French league is due to meet on Thursday to discuss the effects of Philippe’s announcement.

“UEFA wants the competitions to end. They would have liked the championships to end at the beginning of August,” added Aulas.

“I think we will have to wait a little more for the league which will meet the end of the week… which will be able to decide on the final end of the 2019-2020 season.”

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“Important Economic Driver”: La Liga Chief Wants Football To Resume Soon

La Liga president Javier Tebas has said that he does not understand what would be the danger if football is played behind closed doors. Tebas was also critical of the decision to end France’s Ligue 1 season and he compared matches behind closed doors to working on an assembly line. “I do not understand why there would more danger in playing football behind closed doors, with all precautionary measures than working on an assembly line, being on a fishing boat on the high seas, etc.,” Goal.com quoted Tebas” official statement.

“If important economic sectors cannot restart, in a safe and controlled manner, they could end up disappearing. That could happen to professional football,” he said.

“In other countries, teams are already training, that’s the example to follow. In Spain, football is an important economic driver that we need to reactivate like many others. We continue to focus on this reactivation, in a responsible manner, and adhering to health recommendations, as soon as possible,” he added.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Tuesday announced that professional athletes, including footballers, may return to limited training from May 4.

La Liga was suspended indefinitely last month due to the coronavirus. Before the suspension, Barcelona was at the top of the standings, closely followed by Real Madrid.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday had announced the cancellation of the 2019-2020 Ligue 1 season saying that no “big sporting affairs” can take place in the country until at least September.

On the other hand, Italy’s government has given permission to Serie A players for commencing individual training from May 4.

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Premier League Could Resume On June 8: Report

England’s domestic football competition Premier League could be back in action as early as June 8 to have the season concluded by July this year. All the Premier League clubs will be meeting on Friday to discuss plans of resuming the 2019-20 season, Goal.com reported. The ongoing season of the competition was suspended indefinitely last month due to the coronavirus pandemic. UK Secretary for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, Oliver Dowden has also said that he is working with the clubs to start the league by June.

“I personally have been in talks with the Premier League with a view to getting football up and running as soon as possible in order to support the whole football community,” Goal.com quoted Dowden as saying.

“But, of course, any such moves would have to be consistent with public health guidance,” he added.

If Premier League has to start by June 8, then teams need to be out there training by May 18.

On Monday, Arsenal, Everton and West Ham allowed their players to return to their training grounds but asked them to abide by the social distancing guidelines.

The Premier League matches are likely to be played behind closed doors initially.

On Monday, top football body FIFA also said that they are willing to allow teams to make five substitutes in each match instead of three to minimise the risk of injury as the season will have to be concluded in a tight schedule.

All sporting action across the world has come to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.