Sweden’s unique approach to Covid-19 extends to football
Swedish soccer players and coaches will not be required to take a test for Covid-19 before training sessions or matches as part of the country’s proposed return-to-play protocol during the pandemic, writes The Associated Press.
Instead, they will have to fill in a self-assessment form each morning and email it to their club doctor no later than two hours before arriving for training, or before arriving at a stadium for a match. The doctor will then assess whether the players and coaches are healthy enough to take part.
They must stay at home if they have any symptoms.
It follows the general principle adopted in Swedish society that only people who “are feeling so ill that they must visit a hospital get a full-scale corona test,” the Swedish league told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
“So, in line with that, we do not have the opportunity to test our players.”
The return-to-play protocols for training and professional matches, which were published by the Swedish league on Tuesday, have been presented to the country’s Public Health Authority.
The authority is expected to decide this week whether the top two Swedish leagues can start next month. They are hoping to begin playing matches on June 14, more than two months after the initially scheduled start date.
Swedish society hasn’t completely shut down during the virus outbreak because the government and health authorities have chosen not to impose as many restrictions as other countries.
That is reflected in its proposed return-to-play protocols in soccer, which differ to other leagues in Europe.
Austrian Bundesliga plans to restart in early June
Austrian authorities on Tuesday set out a plan for the restart of the country’s top-flight in June, after the season had been on hold since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, writes Agence France-Presse.
The president of the Austrian Football League Christian Ebenbauer said “as regards the schedule, if full training restarts on May 15, then I assume we can continue the championship in the first week of June.”
Team training is due to start on Friday. Players will have to undergo regular tests for the virus. In the case of a positive result, the individual affected will have to go into a 14-day quarantine and the squad will have to be re-tested.
The exact date for the campaign to restart is yet to be determined.
RB Salzburg face second-division Austria Lustenau in the Austrian Cup final which may be held in late May.
The Austrian Bundesliga has 10 rounds left of the season, with Linz’s LASK currently in first place, three points ahead of RB Salzburg, who have won the title for the last six years.
As of Tuesday, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Austria stood at 15,892, with 623 deaths and 14,148 people having recovered from the disease.
The country of 8.8 million people was one of the first to begin easing its strict coronavirus lockdown in mid-April and so far has not seen a significant spike in infections after the measures were relaxed.
Football leagues are gradually re-starting across Europe, with Germany’s Bundesliga returning on Saturday, Hungary’s season returning on May 23 and those in several other countries, including Portugal, expected in early June.
Gibbs-White the latest footballer to break rules
Wolverhampton Wanderers said they were aware of their midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White breaking lockdown rules by attending a house party in London and were dealing with it internally.
A now-deleted video was posted on Snapchat showing Gibbs-White, 21, at the party over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Last month, the England Under-21 international had posted a message urging people to stay indoors and observe the lockdown rules brought in to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
A club spokesman said that Wolves were treating the issue of Gibbs-White’s trip to London as an internal matter.
He is not the only Premier League player to breach the lockdown rules.
Everton’s Moise Kean could face club punishement after holding a party at his flat.
Manchester City and England defender Kyle Walker is also facing disciplinary action from his club after reportedly hosting a party involving two sex workers in April.
Walker came under further scrutiny last week after travelling to Sheffield to see family members.
The Premier League is currently in talks with clubs and various stakeholders about a possible resumption of play in June. The competition was suspended on March 13.
Vinokourov: If there are no bike races, Astana will disappear
Alexandre Vinokourov, general manager of the Astana cycling squad, has said his team will struggle to survive if there is no further road racing this year.
As one of the first sports to be hit by the global Covid-19 pandemic, the cycling season was put on hold in early March before any of the major races – the monuments and grand tours – had had an opportunity to take place.
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Despite a rescheduling of the season from the sport’s world governing body – “The UCI has done a good job” – Vinokourov said in an interview with French website Cyclism’Actu that he feared for the future of his WorldTour team.
“We’ve done all we can with the team and the sponsors,” Vinokourov said. “In Kazakhstan, as is the case across the world, things are complicated, with oil, with the currency.
“We have to survive this year, and if there are no races it will be complicated for cycling. Will my team be in danger if there are no races? I think so, like every team. Sponsors want visibility and for us, yes, if there are no races, I think our team will disappear next year.”
“It’s going to be bizarre to have the Tour de France in September and the other races later on but it’s good for the fans because they’ll be able to watch cycling on TV.”
London Mayor opposed to resumption of football in capital
Sadiq Khan has spoke, and the London Mayor has said he is uncomfortable with the return of Premier League football to the capital’s grounds before it is safe to do so.
Government guidelines announced on Monday said professional sport can return from June 1 behind closed doors, but Khan believes that is too early for clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham to stage events in the city.
A spokesperson for the Mayor’s office is reported in the Evening Standard as having said that Khan is “keen for the Premier League and professional sport in general to resume” but not until it is safe.
“As a Liverpool fan, Sadiq of course wants the Premier League to return, but it can only happen when it is safe to do so, and it cannot place any extra burden on the NHS and emergency services.”
How tennis rookies can get the most out of limited court time
As recreational tennis prepares to resume – especially within household groups – Dan Travis, tennis strategist and creator of The Art of Winning, explains the best practice tips and techniques for players of all levels.
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This is a really exciting time. Get out and play. You do not need near-perfect strokes to start playing a match – which is the best way to improve. It’s true that drilling shots makes you better at… drilling shots. But all the evidence suggests it has limited impact on your competitive performance.
In other words, if June spends a couple of hours a week working on her technique, and Claire spends the same amount of time competing, Claire should beat Jane every time.
For more pearls of wisdom like that from Dan, oh you know the drill by now, don’t you? Click the ^^^link people.
Meanwhile, tennis correspondent Simon Briggs has all the answers to your questions regarding the re-opening of public courts providing, that is, one of your questions is: When will public tennis courts reopen? How are clubs preparing? What protocols are in place? How do you enforce the rules? And will the finances work?
English yachting clubs urged to ‘be patient’
Following Monday’s advice from the Government, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has issued guidance for English Affiliated Clubs who are “considering a safe plan to restart their boating activity”, writes our very own old man of the sea Tom Cary.
It includes advice on how clubs may be able to facilitate activity minimising the risk of transmitting infection (including social-distancing and adequate cleaning and hygiene) and how to reduce the likelihood of a callout to emergency services through enhanced risk assessment, maintenance and safety.
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Alistair Dickson, RYA director of sport development explains: “Many clubs have been completely shut down during the pandemic with staff placed on furlough so we are pleased to be able to offer this practical guidance to clubs to help them plan for the future.
“However due to the severity of the situation and in order to keep people safe, we are encouraging clubs to take their time and use this information to carefully plan and develop their own policies which will best suit their venues. This will likely involve creating a team who will be responsible for reviewing what’s practically possible, deciding what’s best for their club and implementing those decisions effectively with clear communication to their membership.
“We urge the members of English clubs to be patient during the next couple of weeks. It is unlikely many will be able to open straight away and it’s in all of our interests that clubs open when they are ready to facilitate safe activity with appropriate social distancing measures, hygiene procedures and risk management practices.”
The RYA is mindful that Home Country Governments have issued their own phased plans and measures. Therefore, we would encourage Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh clubs to wait for further guidance from RYA Scotland, RYA Northern Ireland and RYA Cymru Wales.
Guidance for RYA Recognised Training Centres and Instructors will also be issued shortly.
Welsh golfers given green light
Golf courses in Wales will be free to reopen in line with their English neighbours after the Welsh Government gave the green light on Tuesday morning, writes golf correspondent James Corrigan.
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There had been growing bewilderment in the country since it emerged on the weekend that clubs would have to remain shut while those over the border in England were being permitted to repopulate the fairways from Wednesday.
But an update has now been provided after Andrew Davies, the AM and former leader of the Welsh Conservatives, led the backlash against the ruling Labour Party, saying “there is no reason why golf shouldn’t resume in Wales if Mark Drakeford [the First Minister] can walk through busy streets in Cardiff”.
Meanwhile, if you want to know what lockdown restrictions being lifted could mean for playing golf on public courses then you may want to read this* wee little explainer from Corrigan.
*You definitely will want to read this.
End of the road for CCC cycling team
Some worrying news is coming from Europe where both Het Nieuwsblad and La Gazzetta dello Sport have reported that CCC, the WorldTour cycling team of Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet, will lose its title sponsor – a Polish company that manufacturers shoes and bags – at the end of the season.
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Having added Matteo Trentin, Ilnur Zakarin and Fausto Masnada to its squad during the winter Jim Ochowicz had hoped for big things in 2020, but it appears the team that was once BMC Racing will again face a fight for its future. This time, however, the team principal and his backroom staff will be looking for a new backer – or backers – during what will likely be a global recession.
It is understood riders have already taken a 50 per cent pay cut to ensure the team can fulfil its commitments until the end of the season.
Meanwhile, it is unclear what the news means for the women’s team, though according to an additional report in the Dutch media, CCC-Liv have slightly different agreement with their Polish title sponsor.
Diamond League announces new dates
More news incoming from athletics correspondent Ben Bloom who has tweeted a revised Diamond League calendar which he stresses are very much proposed dates – as are pretty much every date that is being bandied around during this period of uncertainty.
Our running (and throwing) man added: “Each meet organiser must announce the format of their competition two months before.
“Some events will be staged ‘in innovative, alternative formats and/or under social distancing regulations’.”
Premier League clubs facing TV bill of £350m
Games without fans is nothing, right? So goes the mantra from football fans’ groups who, over the last few seasons, have campaigned for reduced ticket costs and a little more thought from the clubs they follow and the TV companies that perpetually mess them around with fixture changes. Anyhow, it appears that those broadcasters are now in agreement with the supporters, which is why they may be asking for the clubs to pay them back £350 million if the Premier League season is completed behind closed doors. In summary, they are saying hermetically sealed football matches are not what they paid for and they are after a rebate.
The argument put forward by broadcasters, including Sky Sports BT Sport and international companies, is that the remaining 92 games are not being shown as per their contracts – with fans in the stadia and at re-scheduled times – and so it is a different ‘product’.
In theory the broadcasters are due £762m if the season is abandoned or curtailed and the Premier League has made it clear from the start of the coronavirus crisis that having to avoid repaying that money is vital to the future of football and preserving the clubs.
UK Athletics dealt blow with Anniversary Games cancelled
Ben Bloom has this on the financial dent that will be caused by the Anniversary Games being cancelled, as the chief executive confirms the decision will have a “significant impact” on the sport in this country.
Joanna Coates, UK Athletics chief executive, confirmed the decision will have a “significant financial impact” on the sport in this country.
“We are hugely disappointed to confirm the cancellation of one of the flagship events of the global athletics calendar,” said Coates. “But we must place the safety of the entire athletics family at the forefront of every decision we make during these unprecedented times and ensure we are following Government advice.
“Cancelling the event will have a significant financial impact on UKA and the wider sport. The revenue we generate from events – through ticketing, broadcast and sponsorship – helps administer the sport and provide the essential governance services that we oversee.
“We’re incredibly thankful to our commercial partners, some of which are continuing to support us during these tough times, but there will be a substantial reduction in income from the cancellation of this event and this will have an impact moving forwards.”
Adrian Rabiot reportedly goes on strike over unpaid salary
Juventus agreed with players to defer four months of wages in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and according to a story in La Stampa, midfielder Adrian Rabiot hasn’t taken kindly to his salary being cut further as a cost saving measure. According to said reports, he is now refusing to go back to Italy, having maintained his fitness at home in France, as you can see here in one of his many exercise-themed Instagram posts:
There has been no confirmation from either party that this is because an alleged £7million of a £28million salary has been withheld. The report says this stance has been advised by the player’s agent, who is also his mother.
World Cup winner Giuseppe Bergomi says he had Covid-19
Former Italy defender Guiseppe Bergomi says that for 20 to 25 days beginning in early March his back was in so much pain that he couldn’t sit down, and believes this is because of coronavirus. In an Instagram post the 56-year-old revealed that he has since recovered.
SPFL independent inquiry
At least nine Premiership clubs, eight Championship clubs, and at least 15 from Leagues One and Two need to vote for a proposed independent inquiry into how the SPFL have handled the voting and potential reconstruction as part of ending the Scottish football season early. The emergency meeting starts at 11am with a result expected at 3pm.
Whether the SPFL will decide to announce the result 15 minutes before then without receiving all the votes isn’t clear. (this is meant to be a joke, in case that hasn’t come across in a very straight-laced liveblog)
What next for Vettel?
You may have already seen this but just in case, it was revealed at some point late last night that Sebastian Vettel is going to leave Ferrari at the end of the season, and there are now statements this morning confirming precisely those reports.
Oliver Brown has this with all you need to know on what’s next for Ferrari and the four-time world champion.
YouGov poll says people wouldn’t be boosted by return of football
Almost three-quarters of people would not see the return of football as a boost to their morale during the pandemic, according to a YouGov poll.
In a survey of over 2,000 people, 73 per cent said the Premier League and EFL coming back would not lift their spirits, while 19 per cent said they would be pleased to see football return.
Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier postponed
After the good news that golf and tennis will soon be available to everyone trapped in lockdown, the first bit of news we have for our liveblog is of another cancellation. This is from PA:
The Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka from July 3-19 has been postponed, the International Cricket Council has announced.
A 10-team tournament would have determined the final three entrants into next year’s 50-over World Cup in New Zealand, when England will defend the title they won three years ago.
Chris Tetley, the ICC’s head of events, said: “In light of the continuing travel restrictions, global health concerns and government and public health authority advice we have decided to postpone two further upcoming qualifying events due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier and the Europe qualifier to the U19 Cricket World Cup 2022 have both been impacted.
“Our priority during this difficult period is to protect the well-being of players, coaches, officials, fans and the whole cricket community and we will take well-informed, responsible decisions in relation to both postponing events and resuming international cricket.
“We will work in partnership with the Members to find an appropriate window to reschedule these events as soon as is safe and practical to do so.”
Premier League to consult players on safety
The Premier League will seek to allay players’ concerns about health risks as the government prepares to release protocols allowing a phased resumption of contact training in the easing of coronavirus restrictions.
The government is planning to release a strategy later this week on the road map to players being allowed to resume group training even as social distancing is being encouraged in wider society.
“It’s about the building blocks — how long before we can go back into full contact training?” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said yesterday. “It does depend on what sort of contact because obviously you’re trying to ensure the players keep themselves safe even during that contact training situation and that will have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.”
It is two months since the last games were played before the league was suspended during the pandemic.
“One thing is for sure,” Masters said. “All clubs will have to be safe and secure in the knowledge that their players are going to be fit before a decision on going back on the pitch is taken, given that they have had such a long lay-off.
“We have talked about four weeks of training but haven’t agreed yet as we haven’t agreed to go back to training.”