Japan To Let 5,000 Fans Attend Baseball, Football Games

File: About 5,000 photo panels of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars fan are displayed amid empty stadium seating during the Japanese professional baseball match between DeNA and Hiroshima at the Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture on June 19, 2020. STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP


Up to 5,000 fans will be able to attend Japanese football and baseball games from July 10, officials said Monday as the sports inch towards normality after coronavirus suspensions.

The heads of Nippon Professional Baseball and football’s J-League announced the move at a joint press appearance after consultations with infection experts.

“We must fully consider the current situation… but we have received word from government officials that we can declare that we will let spectators in from the 10th of next month,” baseball commissioner Atsushi Saito told a press briefing.

J-League chief Mitsuru Murai said the same date would apply for football matches.

Stadiums will admit only 5,000 spectators or 50 percent of their capacity, whichever number is smaller. Fans are expected to be asked to wear masks, wash their hands frequently and avoid shouting, according to reports.

Professional baseball, Japan’s most popular sport, began its season last Friday behind closed doors after a three-month delay as the coronavirus pandemic swept around the world.

The top tier of Japan’s J-League football will return on July 4, initially in front of empty stadiums.

While Japan has experienced a comparatively small coronavirus outbreak, the pandemic has forced a one-year delay of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with some experts concerned that even that postponement may not be enough time for the event to be held safely.

Japan’s government last month lifted a national state of emergency over the virus, saying major events such as sports games could only gradually allow fans to return to stadiums.


Football To Allow Five Substitutions When Play Restarts

File: Soccer balls are seen on the ground prior to the opening game of South Korea’s K-League football match between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Suwon Samsung Bluewings at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju on May 8, 2020. JUNG YEON-JE / AFP


Football teams will be allowed to use five substitutes when play resumes after the coronavirus pandemic, the sport’s law-making body announced on Friday.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) said in as statement that it had agreed to a proposal by world governing body FIFA for a temporary change to the rules “to protect player welfare”.

Teams face likely fixture congestion in a packed calendar as they attempt to make up for lost time when play can resume.

The lay off is expected to have an impact on player fitness levels too.

It also said that competitions which were using video assistant referee (VAR) would be allowed to drop it for the time being.

The change will apply to competitions scheduled to be completed by 31 December of this year, although FIFA and IFAB left open the possibility that the period could be extended.

While teams will be able to make five substitutions, “to avoid disruption to the game, each team will only have three opportunities to make substitutions” as well as at half time or before extra time.

In competitions that allow an another replacement in extra time, teams will have an additional substitution opportunity.

The previous limit on outfield substitutes for top-level competitions has been three in regulation time.

– Euro possibility –

The IFAB said the change had been made “as matches may be played in a condensed period in different weather conditions, both of which could have impacts on player welfare.”

It added that “the decision on whether to apply this temporary amendment will remain at the discretion of each individual competition organiser.”

It said that, together with FIFA, it “will determine at a later stage whether this temporary amendment would need to be extended further.

That means the measure could be maintained for the whole of the 2020-21 season and right through to the next European Championship, which was postponed by a year until June and July 2021 because of the pandemic.

“If the measure is still in force, UEFA could then adopt it for the Euro,” a source said.

It remains to be seen if the measure could be left in place permanently, but doing so may play into the hands of the wealthiest clubs with the largest squads and greatest strength in depth.

The announcement comes a day after the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said it had proposed allowing teams in Spain to make five substitutions if matches resumed in the country.

Thursday’s statement said that it was the RFEF who raised the possibility of introducing the measure to FIFA “more than a month ago”.

The statement also said that La Liga chief Javier Tebas had shown support for the move, which takes a similar format to IFAB’s.

“With this proposal, the federation wants to go ahead and propose measures that favour the health of footballers,” said RFEF president Luis Rubiales.


COVID-19: ‘No Match Worth Risking A Life,’ Says FIFA Boss Infantino

File: FIFA president Gianni Infantino holds a press conference at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 13, 2018, two days before the Russia 2018 World Cup final football match between France and Croatia. PHOTO: Jewel SAMAD / AFP


FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Friday said that “no match” is worth “risking a single human life” and that world football’s governing body would be able to help financially national federations during the coronavirus pandemic.

The majority of top football leagues and international competitions have been suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Infantino insisted that games would not resume until it was safe.

READ ALSO: Man Utd Must Be Ready For Return To ‘Normality’ – Solskjaer

“Our first priority, our principle, the one we will use for our competitions and encourage everyone to follow is that health comes first,” he said in a video message.

“I cannot stress this enough. No match, no competition, no league is worth risking a single human life.”

The German Bundesliga reportedly could restart behind closed doors in May, with players already back in training, while other leagues could also resume in the summer.

“It would be more than irresponsible to force competitions to resume if things are not 100% safe,” added Infantino.

“If we have to wait a little longer we must do so. It’s better to wait a little bit longer than to take any risks.”

Infantino said that national football associations which are struggling financially would receive help from FIFA’s emergency relief fund.

FIFA last week postponed all international matches scheduled for June.

“We are today in a very strong financial situation,” Infantino said.

“But our reserves are not FIFA’s money. It is football’s money. So when football is in need, we must think what we can do to help… It is our responsibility and our duty.”

AFCON: CAF Confirms New Match Venue

wizzyThe Confederation of African Football (CAF) has shifted the matches scheduled to hold in Ebebiyin and Mongomo in Equatorial Guinea to Bata and Malabo, after the group-stage matches left the pitches damaged beyond use.

The tournament officials confirmed the two venue switches on Tuesday and said that all Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final ties will take place in Bata and Malabo.

Originally, the last-eight showdown between Tunisia and hosts Equatorial Guinea was scheduled to take place in Ebebiyin on Saturday.

Similar problems occurred in Mongomo where a quarter-final match was originally slated to take place on Sunday, but that will now be held in the capital Malabo.

That match will kick off at 16:00, which means the remaining quarter-final, also taking place in Malabo, has been pushed back to start at 19:30.

Consequently, the CAF Executive Committee feels that the eight teams qualified for the quarter-final stages onwards should be given the opportunity to play on grounds that provide the highest standards, specifically those of Bata and Malabo, to ensure the quality of play remained at the highest possible level.

There have already been instances of overcrowding at matches earlier in the tournament and police being overrun by supporters.

Moving the match to Bata Stadium, which will also host the final on 8 February, means an extra 30,000 fans will be able to attend.

Report also has it that it is the first time in the history of the Nations Cup that quarter-finals matches have been relocated, but the logistics of holding the tournament in Equatorial Guinea at short notice have presented unique problems.

FIFA Ranking: Nigeria Moves To 3rd In Africa, 33rd Globally

FIFA RankingNigeria have moved up to become the third highest African team and moved up just one place to the 33rd position in the world in the FIFA World Rankings for August 2014.

The Super Eagles climbed three places in the Confederation of African Football region and 10 spots on the global list.

The Super Eagles have been able to poll a total of 673 points which moved them above Egypt.

Nigeria’s higher placing is because of their performance in the World Cup, where they reached the last 16.

Sierra Leone climbs 14 places in the FIFA ranking, lifting them into the top 50 for the fist time in their history. FIFA ranked the Leone Stars 50th in the world, as the team breaks into the top 10 teams on the continent.

Suffering a drop of 273 points, the biggest by any team in the world, Cape Verde, fell from fifth in the African list to 15th, and 75th place in the world. But the biggest mover in the world is Lesotho, who have risen 26 places to 105th, making them 29th in Africa.

Algeria retain their position at the top of the African list.

The first five positions in the world remains unchanged with Germany occupying the top spot having polled a total of 1705 points to cement first spot.

Argentina, Netherlands are in second and third positions respectively, while Colombia and Belgium trail in fourth and fifth positions in that order.



Ashley Cole Will Get New Chelsea Contract – Mourinho

Jose Mourinho has declared that defender, Ashley Cole, will be offered a new Chelsea contract despite the England international having been out of the first team for over a month.

There has been speculation that the 33-year-old will leave the club in the summer owing to the status of his current deal which expires at the end of the season and, the preference for right-sided Cesar Azpilicueta at Cole’s left back position.

However, Mourinho sees things differently, as he confirmed that Cole would return to the Blues starting 11 for Wednesday night’s UEFA Champions’ League Group E clash with Romanian club, Steaua Bucharest.

“Naturally he will get his contract because he’s a valuable player for us,’ the Chelsea boss said.

“Even if you are not playing every game and you are not a first-choice player, like he was always, I don’t think sometimes it means that you are not well, you are not in well conditions, you are not deserving a new contract.

“I feel he’s fine. And I think tomorrow he’s going to show that he’s fine. He starts tomorrow.

“It’s easy to feel that he’s not happy, that he’s not comfortable with a situation, but the way he behaves, the way he trains (is) super professional, as always.

“As always, he’s a fantastic trainer, fantastic professional. When he’s on the bench behind me, I can feel that he’s there to win, even if he’s not on the pitch.”

Also expected back in the first team for the UCL final group game is central defender, David Luiz, who like Cole, has not featured for Chelsea since their Premier League defeat at Newcastle United on November 2.

The Brazilian has been side-lined since suffering a bruised patella during the international break while away with his national team in November.

Although, Chelsea have qualified for the knockout phase despite losing to Basel last month, they need a point against Steaua to finish top of the group, a position many teams would fancy in order to avoid playing a tough team in the Round of 16.

Racism: Yaya Toure Demands UEFA Sanction Against CSKA Moscow

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has admitted that he was “furious” over racist chants from CSKA Moscow fans on Wednesday 23 October 2013.

With reports of his racist abuse from the home fans rocking the European football world, Toure has called on UEFA to take serious actions against the CSKA Moscow fans. He said:

“I’m not just disappointed, I’m furious. I’m very, very disappointed about what those fans have done today and I think UEFA has to take action because players with the same colour of skin will always be in the same position”.

“For me, as captain, I was wearing an armband which said ‘no to racism’ and I was totally disappointed.

“I want to see UEFA do something and take some action.

“We have to be as strong as possible otherwise they will continue like that.

“Maybe they could ban the stadium, I don’t know, for a couple of years or a couple of months.

“The club may say they have to educate the fans, but I think it’s enough. Too much is too much. We have to stop it now.

“I played in Ukraine. It’s not only in Eastern Europe and I have some friends who have had problems too.

“It’s stupid these people. I don’t know, it just happens in football. It’s unbelievable.

“They’re stupid, they’re just stupid. UEFA has to take action to right it otherwise I think they will just continue.”

The midfielder, complained to the referee during the second half of Manchester City’s 2-1 win in their UEFA Champions’ League Group D at the Khimki Arena where the incident reportedly happened.