Pele’s Tribute To Late Maradona, Diop’s Death And The Biggest Sports Stories Last Week
Barely a week after the death of Argentine legend, Diego Maradona, the football world was once again, thrown into mourning with the demise of Senegalese World Cup hero, Bouba Diop, aged 42.
He netted three goals for the Teranga Lions as they cruised to the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup in their maiden appearance in the competition, kicking off a week that saw Brazilian legend, Pele penning an emotional farewell to Maradona, a winner of the 1986 World Cup.
Even though activities are picking up in most parts of the world following the halting of events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sports personalities are still testing positive for the disease with Formula 1 champion, Lewis Hamilton and 48 NBA players the latest in the long-list to have contracted the virus.
On First Eleven, a recap of the biggest eleven stories this week, the EPL and EFL are also mulling measures to combat the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are saying there is a financial adjustment to the games billed for next year in the Asian nation.
1. Senegal World Cup Hero Diop Dies At 42
Barely a week after the demise of legendary soccer star, Diego Maradona, the football world was thrown into another bout of mourning. Bouba Diop, the former Portsmouth star who scored Senegal’s lone goal in the famous defeat of the then-world champions, France in the opening game of the 2002 World Cup died on Sunday from a long illness.
FIFA is saddened to learn of the passing of Senegal legend Papa Bouba Diop.
Once a World Cup hero, always a World Cup hero. pic.twitter.com/akUJoPxCal
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 29, 2020
“FIFA is saddened to learn of the passing of Senegal legend Papa Bouba Diop,” the world football governing body said in a statement confirming the death of the 42-year-old player who was popularly called ‘The Wardrobe.’ “Once a World Cup hero, always a World Cup hero.”
Diop also played for French club Lens, Fulham, West Ham United and Birmingham City and was part of the Senegal side that lost to Cameroon on penalties in the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations final.
2. Pele Pens Message To ‘Great Friend’ Maradona
A week after the death of Maradona, Brazillian legend, Pele wrote an emotional farewell message to his “great friend” and “genius who enchanted the world”.
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“The world would be much better if we could compare each other less and start admiring each other more,” Pele posted on Instagram alongside a series of photos with him and the Argentine maestro. “So, I want to say that you are beyond comparison,” said the three-time World Cup winner.”
Both did not play at the same time but they have always drawn comparisons from football fans. At the turn of the millennium when Pele was crowned “Player of the (20th) Century” by FIFA while Maradona won a public vote.
3. Tokyo Olympics To Cost $2.4b More
Organisers of the Tokyo Olympics have said the postponed games will cost an extra $2.4bn, ballooning an already controversial budget.
They said the Tokyo 2020 Games will need an additional $1.5 billion for operational costs, with another $900 million to be spent on countermeasures against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cost may equally move up with the organisers on Friday noting that more $250 million in “contingency” funds will be released to help cover the expenses.
4. Lewis Hamilton Tests Positive For COVID-19
Multiple Formula 1 champion, Lewis Hamilton has joined the long list of sports personalities to have contracted COVID-19, meaning he missed this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
“He woke up on Monday morning with mild symptoms and was informed at the same time that a contact prior to arrival in Bahrain had subsequently tested positive,” a statement from Hamilton’s Mercedes team said, explaining that the British man is isolating in line with COVID-19 protocols and health guidelines in the Asian nation.
The team noted that Hamilton who had been tested thrice the past week had returned negative.
5. 48 NBA Players Contract COVID-19
From Hamilton to the US, more sportsmen and women have continued to test positive to COVID-19. The NBA on Wednesday said after its latest round of testing, 48 players had contracted the virus, a dramatic increase over the zero positive tests reported during last season’s quarantine bubble in Florida.
The league said the positive tests are the result of 546 tests carried out between November 24-30 as the NBA gets set to begin preseason games in nine days. The zero positive tests were from the beginning of last season’s quarantine bubble to the end of the season in mid-October.
Under the league’s new COVID-19 protocols, a player who tests positive has to refrain from workouts for at least 10 days and more if he is showing symptoms. The NBA’s first preseason games are December 11 with the regular season scheduled to begin less than two weeks later.
6. EPL, EFL Roll Out COVID-19 Package
The Premier League and the English Football League agreed a £250-million rescue package on Thursday, ending months of uncertainty for lower-league clubs struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic.
The EFL said clubs in Leagues One and Two — the third and fourth-tiers — would receive grants worth £50 million ($67 million). The Premier League will provide a further financial commitment to help the EFL secure a £200-million loan facility for clubs in the second-tier Championship.
It follows months of negotiations between the two governing bodies, who had been criticised for their failure to reach an agreement.
7. IOC Presidency: Bach To Go Unopposed
Thomas Bach will stand unopposed to serve a second term as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president.
Bach, a 66-year-old German lawyer, is set to be confirmed for a second and final four-year term at an IOC session in March in Athens. He was initially elected for an eight-year term as Olympic chief in September 2013, taking over from Belgian Jacques Rogge. If re-elected, Bach’s term will end in 2025, a year after the Paris Olympics.
The next term for the IOC presidency will start after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which will now take place from July 23-Aug 8, 2021, having been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
8. LA Lakers: LeBron James Extends Contract
Reigning NBA finals MVP LeBron James, who will turn 36 this month, has agreed to a two-year, $85 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers, his agent Rich Paul confirmed on Wednesday.
The extension means James will make $39.2 million next season and will be a Laker through the 2022-23 season, American sports broadcaster ESPN reported Paul as saying.
James will also make $41.1 million in 2021-22 and $44.5 million in 2022-23. By the time his contract ends, he will have played two decades in the NBA. Last season, James averaged 25.3 points and led the NBA in assists with 10.2 per game.
9. Champions League: Woman Makes Refereeing History
Stephanie Frappart became the first woman to referee a men’s Champions League game on Wednesday as Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 750th career goal in a 3-0 win for Juventus over Dynamo Kiev.
The 36-year-old Frappart has already made history as the first woman to referee in Ligue 1, and took charge of the 2019 UEFA Super Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea. She also made her Europa League debut in October.
Meanwhile, Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain suffered mixed fortunes as the group stage of Europe’s elite competition enters its latter phase.
Dortmund was held 1-1 by Lazio while Brazillian star, Neymar bagged a brace to hand PSG a 3-1 win over English giants, Manchester United. A depleted Liverpool side beat Ajax 1-0 to move to the next stage of the competition.
Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid have their hopes of reaching the knockout phase of the Champions League hanging in the balance after going down 2-0 away to the Ukrainian side, Dynamo Kiev.
10. UEFA Mulls 10-Game Model For Champions League
UEFA is to hold talks over proposals that would see the Champions League group stage transformed to guarantee 10 matches for each side in the competition, according to a report on Tuesday.
Champions League reform is expected from 2024 onwards as European football’s governing body aims to ward off the threat of a breakaway super league from the continent’s biggest clubs.
British newspaper The Times reported that a “Swiss system” that would see all sides in the competition compete in one league and play 10 different opponents, selected by a draw, is now UEFA’s favoured model for reform.
11. Women’s Rugby W/Cup Teams Increased
World Rugby has announced an increase in the number of teams in the women’s edition of the Rugby World Cup, expanding the number of sides to 16 teams from 2025 onwards.
The decision, taken by the Rugby World Cup Board in 2020, is a confirmation of World Rugby’s resolve to speed up the women’s game globally via its transformational women’s strategic plan of 2017-25. Women’s rugby has experienced record growth in recent years, with women and girls now accounting for 28% of the global playing population.
Your Biggest Sporting Story?
In a week that saw action from the Champions League, the Europa League, the death of Senegalese World Cup hero, Diop, and other thrilling events, sports enthusiasts undoubtedly had an exciting week.
From football, and tennis, to basketball and athletics, what could you describe as your biggest sports story this week?