Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola has donated one million euros ($1.08 million) to help buy medical supplies for the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in his native Spain.
The former FC Barcelona boss gave the money to the Medical College of Barcelona to buy “medical equipment that is currently lacking in health centres in Catalonia,” the body said in a statement.
His donation will also be used to produce ventilators to treat patients and protective gear for health care workers in Guardiola’s northeastern region of Spain.
Meanwhile Barcelona’s Hospital Clinic said it had received a donation from FC Barcelona captain Lionel Messi to help it fight the virus.
“Thank you Leo, for your support and commitment,” the hospital added in a tweet.
While the hospital did not say how much money the player donated, Catalan sports daily Mundo Deportivo said it was one million euros.
With the pandemic spreading across the world, Spain has been one of the worst-hit countries, logging the third highest number of deaths with the latest toll standing at 2,696, and the total number of infections nearing 40,000.
The shutdown of English football was extended until at least April 30 on Thursday after the Premier League and English Football League (EFL) held crisis meetings.
“We’ve collectively agreed that the professional game in England will be further postponed until no earlier than Thursday 30 April,” said a joint statement by the English Football Association, Premier League, EFL, players and managers’ bodies.
UEFA’s decision to postpone Euro 2020 for 12 months earlier this week could allow games to be completed over the summer if strict restrictions on travelling and mass gatherings to halt the spread of COVID-19 are lifted in time.
The leagues still hope to finish the season once play can be restarted rather than accepting the current standings as final or declaring the campaign null and void.
“We’re united in our commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019-20 football season and ensuring all domestic and European club league and cup matches are played as soon as it is safe and possible to do so,” added the statement.
Even if play can commence in early May, that could mean matches stretching beyond the June 30 goal UEFA agreed on for finishing the season on Tuesday.
The end of June is when many players’ contracts and loan deals expire.
However, the English authorities are putting no limit of when the 2019/20 season must be finished by.
“The FA’s Rules and Regulations state that ‘the season shall terminate not later than the 1 June’ and ‘each competition shall, within the limit laid down by The FA, determine the length of its own playing season’.
“However, The FA’s Board has agreed for this limit to be extended indefinitely for the 2019/20 season in relation to Professional Football.”
– Off-season break scrapped? –
One option could see the end of the 2019/20 and beginning of the 2020/21 come together with no time for an off-season break.
“Players may need to get their summer break in now before we finish what was the 19/20 season and roll it right into the 20/21 season without a break,” Brighton striker Glenn Murray told AFP.
“Everyone loves sport, everyone loves watching football but I really think the right decision was made in bringing it to a halt.
“At this moment in time it’s pretty irrelevant, people’s health is first and foremost. Once we get over this crisis we can look at sport and getting the Premier League and Football Leagues back in action.”
The sudden shutdown, though, could have long-lasting consequences for many lower league clubs worrying if they will even be able to survive the next couple of months with no income from gate receipts.
A £50 million ($58 million) short-term relief package was announced by the EFL to help stricken clubs on Wednesday.
However, there has so far been no bailout from the Premier League to ensure those further down the pyramid survive.
The English Premier League (EPL) has been suspended until April 4th, 2020, following the outbreak of the coronavirus, according to a statement from the organisers on Friday.
According to the statement, the move followed a meeting of Premier League shareholders on Friday, revealing that the games will return if conditions are right.
“Following a meeting of Shareholders today, it was unanimously decided to suspend the Premier League with the intention of returning on 4 April, subject to medical advice and conditions at the time,” the statement added.
It also wished Arsenal coach, Mikel Arteta and Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi, who both tested positive to the coronvirus, speedy recoveries.
“Above all, we wish Mikel Arteta and Callum Hudson-Odoi speedy recoveries, and everyone else affected by COVID-19,” said Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters.
It assured of the Premier League’s commitment to the welfare of players, coaches, staff, supporters and other stakeholders.
“In this unprecedented situation, we are working closely with our clubs, Government, The FA and EFL and can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority,” the statement assured.
Also, the organisers said the displace fixtures will be played “when it is safe to do so.”
La Liga has also followed Italy’s Serie A in suspending its matches, after a meeting on Thursday with the Spanish Football Federation and the Spanish Players Union (AFE).
It had been decided on Tuesday that games in Spain’s top two divisions would be held behind closed doors but those fixtures over the next 14 days will now be suspended.
Real’s second leg away to Manchester City in the Champions League last 16, scheduled for next Tuesday, is also in serious doubt.
Barcelona have already confirmed their tie against Napoli at Camp Nou on Wednesday will be played without fans, although UEFA is facing mounting pressure to postpone completely both the Champions League and Europa League.
Domestic league matches in France, Germany and Portugal have been put behind closed doors while Serie A in Italy has been suspended until April 3.
Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani’s desire to leave Paris Saint-Germain has stoked the interest of Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, who has bemoaned his players’ lack of clinical finishing.
Tammy Abraham has scored 16 goals in all competitions this season but Lampard is aware that he needs support.
The 1-0 defeat by Newcastle on Saturday highlighted a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal with defeat preventing Chelsea from extending their advantage over their rivals for a Champions League place.
Fourth-placed Chelsea play Arsenal on Tuesday and are presently five points clear of Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Arsenal are 10 points adrift of their London rivals.
Cavani is PSG’s record goalscorer with 198 but the 116-times capped striker told the board he wanted to leave for Atletico Madrid having fallen behind Mauro Icardi in the pecking order this season.
However, Lampard said he would be interested in a striker of the 32-year-old’s class when he was told at the eve of match press conference of Cavani’s desire to leave PSG.
“He’s a great player,” said Lampard of Cavani.
“I played against him and I always loved his mentality and attitude, and obviously his goal-scoring record speaks for itself.
“I’m not absolutely aware of what the situation is, so we’ll see.
“The idea of bringing in experience is something I’m certainly not absolutely looking away from.
“Because sometimes the young players need a little bit of help, and if that’s the case then that may help us.”
Lampard denied that defeat by Newcastle made it all the more urgent he delve into the transfer market.
“I don’t think Newcastle hastens anything, it’s just we couldn’t do any business in the summer window,” said Lampard referring to the FIFA transfer ban which has now been lifted but which existed in the close season.
“At this point, it’s something (lack of accurate finishing) we’ve seen as a bit of a problem in our home games.
“So we’ve got to work hard with the group here, and then if we can improve in terms of goal scoring, it’s for sure something we have to look at.”
Burnley fought back to boost their bid for Premier League survival as Ashley Westwood’s late goal clinched a 2-1 win over Leicester on Sunday.
Sean Dyche’s side trailed to a first-half goal from Burnley-born Harvey Barnes at Turf Moor.
But Chris Wood equalised after half-time before Burnley keeper Nick Pope saved a penalty from Jamie Vardy.
Burnley’s impressive revival was completed 11 minutes from full-time when Westwood fired home to end their run of four successive league defeats and move them five points clear of the bottom three.
It was the perfect way to mark Dyche’s 300th game as Burnley boss after seven defeats from their previous nine games had plunged them into the relegation battle.
Leicester’s surprise home defeat against Southampton last weekend knocked them out of second place and this was another setback for Brendan Rodgers’ suddenly spluttering team.
The Foxes remain third despite a fourth loss in their last six league matches
Leicester’s cause wasn’t helped by the absence of rested England left-back Ben Chilwell amid talk of a potential move to Chelsea during the January transfer window.
Within the first minute, a simple long ball headed on by Vardy unhinged the Burnley defence and Barnes cut inside to test Pope.
Burnley’s effort couldn’t be faulted but at first they lacked composure and quality in the final third.
Westwood found Wood in space but his low strike drifted wide, then Jay Rodriguez shot straight at Kasper Schmeichel from long-range.
Leicester deservedly took the lead in the 33rd minute.
With Burnley appealing in vain for a foul by Dennis Praet on Jack Cork, Leicester stole possession and Barnes raced into the penalty area.
Vardy cleverly made a run that distracted James Tarkowski and Barnes stepped past Ben Mee to drill a cool finish under Pope for his third goal of the season.
Wood couldn’t finish off Cork’s tempting cross as Burnley failed to score a first half goal in 11 successive league games.
Vardy nearly doubled Leicester’s lead soon after the interval with a stinging strike following a vibrant attack from the visitors.
But Burnley kept plugging away and Wood headed over from a good position six yards out.
It was a warning Leicester failed to heed and New Zealand striker Wood made them pay in the 56th minute when he tapped in his ninth league goal of the season after Schmeichel pushed Mee’s header into his path.
Rodgers’ side had a golden opportunity to retake the lead when Mee’s foul on Barnes gave them a penalty.
Vardy stepped up to take it after a lengthy VAR check, but Pope dived to his left to make a fine save.
Pope stood tall to deny Vardy again when Leicester’s leading scorer broke through on goal.
Vardy’s misses proved fatal as Burnley won it in the 79th minute.
Charlie Taylor’s cross wasn’t cleared by Jonny Evans and Westwood pounced with a close-range finish that left Leicester shell-shocked.
The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) should only overturn on-field decisions when there has been a “clear and obvious” error, according to one of football’s leading international rules officials.
VAR has proved highly controversial since it was introduced into the Premier League this season.
A particular source of concern has revolved around offside calls.
Last weekend saw Norwich, Brighton, Sheffield United, Wolves, Brighton and Crystal Palace all have goals disallowed by marginal VAR rulings amid doubts over whether the available technology is accurate enough to make such fractional calls.
Players and managers have also questioned whether the system should not be used to reverse an on-field decision that appears correct to the naked eye, a view that received support on Monday from the general secretary of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) — the sport’s ultimate rule-making body.
Lukas Brud, while not addressing specific incidents in English football, said IFAB guidance advises VAR should only be used to correct clear errors also applied to offside.
“Clear and obvious still remains — it’s an important principle,” Brud said in comments reported by the British media.
“There should not be a lot of time spent to find something marginal.
“If you spend minutes trying to identify whether it is offside or not, then it’s not clear and obvious and the original decision should stand,” he added.
Wolves captain Conor Coady was frustrated when his side were denied what seemed a legitimate equaliser just before half-time against runaway league leaders Liverpool on Sunday when Pedro Neto’s effort was chalked off because wing-back Jonny was deemed to be offside in the build-up.
Wolves eventually lost 1-0 at Anfield and Coady told the BBC afterward: “A lot of people are going to tell me that they have come to the right decision and they might have. But what is it, an armpit that’s offside, or a toe, or something like that?”
Meanwhile, Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder was annoyed after VAR denied his side a goal against champions Manchester City — the fifth time it has happened to the Blades this season.
“Yet again we had another goal disallowed by VAR,” he said.
“That’s about eight or nine over the weekend, this is not a situation helping the game.”
Even City manager Pep Guardiola, whose side won 2-0, said VAR was “a big mess”, with the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss adding: “Hopefully next season it can do better.”
But the introduction of VAR into Scottish football cannot come quickly enough for Glasgow giants Rangers.
Sunday saw Steven Gerrard’s side win 2-1 away to arch-rivals and reigning champions Celtic as they moved to within two points of the Scottish Premiership leaders.
Gers boss Gerrard’s lone criticism of referee Kevin Clancy centered on the official not sending off Celtic defender Christopher Jullien in added time in an incident that saw Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos see red for a second yellow card.
Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson, while insisting he was not criticising referees, said Monday the pace of the modern game made it “extremely difficult to make split-second calls with the degree of certainty required”.
He added: “We believe the introduction of VAR would help referees enormously and reduce the number of wrong decisions which sometimes have a dramatic effect on the outcome of matches.”
Frank Lampard said Chelsea had to improve their home form if they were to remain in the top four following a 2-0 loss to Southampton on Thursday.
After an impressive 2-0 win away to Tottenham, Chelsea and their fans probably expected a win against a Southampton side battling to avoid relegation.
But Chelsea rarely threatened before or after Michael Obafemi put the Saints ahead in the 31st minute with the second Premier League goal of his career.
And when Nathan Redmond doubled that lead in the 73rd minute, the contest was effectively over.
The result meant Chelsea had suffered back-to-back home league defeats for the first time since 2011, with Bournemouth’s fellow south coast side Southampton having won the previous match at Stamford Bridge.
“You need a form of consistency to come in the top four in the Premier League,” said Chelsea manager Lampard, whose side are still fourth in the table.
“Everyone is striving for it. We are in it at Christmas and people probably would have doubted that so from that perspective we can probably be happy.
“But to stay there and move onwards and upwards we have to win more than we have recently at home.”
Youthful teams often struggle for consistency, but Chelsea’s problems are especially acute at their west London home, where they have won only four league games so far this season.
“We have to work and we have to do more in an attacking sense,” said Lampard.
“You can’t have 70 percent of possession and control as we did in the first half and not do more, not hit better crosses, make better final passes, get more clear chances at goal.”
‘Test of character’
And Chelsea are feeling the tension, with their manager admitting: “When you are on the run we are on, there is more pressure because everyone talks about it and we feel it.
“We want to perform well in front of our own fans and give them something to be happy about.”
The former Chelsea and England midfielder added: “People come here and respect us as Chelsea in the way they are setting up but we are not playing like the Chelsea that can break that down.
“I learn about the players particularly in games like that…Games like today’s are a test of character as much as ability.”
Meanwhile Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl said that West Ham and Bournemouth’s victories at Stamford Bridge had led his side to think “‘why can’t we do it too?'”
Southampton’s opener came after Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi lost possession, the move ending when Obafemi curled a left-foot shot around Kepa Arrizabalaga from 20 yards.
The Saints, retaining possession well, could now afford to sit back and pounce on Chelsea errors, with a Blues mistake contributing to their second goal.
N’Golo Kante, in trying to dispossess Stuart Armstrong after a 30-pass move, succeeded only in playing the ball into the path of Redmond, who lifted the ball over Arrizabalaga and into the net.
“Sure you have to have a tactical plan but you need passion or it doesn’t work,” Hasenhuttl said.
“I’m proud of the moments when we win the ball, but we showed we can pass the ball as well.
“We have had some good performances on the road but this was the best.”
Chelsea slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat against struggling Bournemouth on Saturday as Dan Gosling’s late goal extended the Blues’ recent poor run in the Premier League.
Frank Lampard’s side have lost four of their last five league games following Gosling’s clever strike six minutes from full-time at Stamford Bridge.
Gosling’s flick over his shoulder was initially ruled out for offside, but a lengthy VAR review eventually confirmed the midfielder was onside when he netted.
After reaching the Champions League last 16 with Tuesday’s win over Lille, Chelsea were hoping to bounce back from last weekend’s surprise loss at Everton.
But this was another laboured display from Lampard’s young team, who are out of sorts in a run that threatens to spoil the momentum from their fine start to the season.
Chelsea remain in fourth place but they will need to improve to hold onto that position with London derbies at Tottenham and Arsenal looming over the Christmas period.
The loss was especially galling because Chelsea were facing an injury-hit Bournemouth side who arrived on a run of five successive defeats and only one win in 10 games.
Bournemouth were missing eight players through injury but, after failing to record a shot on target in the defeat against Liverpool last weekend, they made life far more difficult for Chelsea.
Ryan Fraser wriggled past Antonio Rudiger on the right of the Chelsea area and drilled a low shot that Kepa Arrizabalaga saved at his near post.
Mason Mount was back in the Chelsea line-up in place of Mateo Kovacic and the young midfielder had a chance to open the scoring when Jorginho picked out his run into the Bournemouth area with a delicate pass.
Mount controlled well on his chest, but Aaron Ramsdale pushed away the shot.
That was part of an early Chelsea barrage in which Tammy Abraham guide a half-volley just wide from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross.
Heading into this weekend, Chelsea had scored only 11 goals at Stamford Bridge this season as they struggled to find the cutting edge required to break down teams content to sit deep.
With Bournemouth following that strategy, Chelsea once again found it hard to turn territorial dominance into tangible reward.
Chelsea’s fans were growing audibly frustrated until Bournemouth defender Jack Stacey came within inches of accidently easing the angst in the stands when he almost miscued a clearance into his own net.
It was a rare moment of menace for Chelsea. By the time Abraham headed over from Willian’s corner just before the interval, Lampard was beginning to look vexed.
Lampard had admitted Chelsea needed to show more creativity in the final third on several occasions in recent weeks.
He responded by sending on Kovacic and Callum Hudson-Odoi soon after half-time, yet Chelsea looked increasingly ragged at the back and were nearly caught when Josh King found Gosling, who couldn’t convert with the goal at his mercy.
Chelsea finally worked a sight of goal but left-back Emerson squandered a golden opportunity, heading straight at Ramsdale from point-blank range after Azpilicueta’s header looped into his path.
It was the crucial moment as Bournemouth made the most of their luck to snatch the points in the 84th minute.
Azpilicueta’s clearance was headed back into the Chelsea area by Jefferson Lerma and the unmarked Gosling hooked the ball over his shoulder and past Kepa despite Azpilicueta’s attempt to clear off the line.
Initially, the goal was disallowed for offside against Gosling, but the review showed the midfielder was onside, allowing Bournemouth to celebrate wildly as Chelsea stood shell-shocked.
Kovacic tried to rescue a point in stoppage-time, but his blast was repelled by Ramsdale.