French League To Take Six-Week Break For 2022 World Cup

French Ligue 1

 

The French top-flight will have a six-week break across November and December next season for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the league announced on Wednesday.

The 2022/23 Ligue 1 campaign kicks off the weekend of August 6 and will be paused during the World Cup, stopping on November 13 and resuming on December 28.

Next year’s tournament, which runs from November 21 to December 18, will be the first not to be held in May, June or July due to Qatar’s intense summer heat.

Players are due to be released by their clubs for international duty on November 14, a week before the opening game of the World Cup.

READ ALSO: UEFA Seeks Candidates To Host Euro-2028

The French season will conclude June 4, two weeks later than the end date for the current campaign.

The league in June voted to decrease the number of clubs in Ligue 1 from 20 to 18 from the 2023-24 season.

Four clubs will be relegated from the top division at the end of the 2022-23 season, with just two promoted from Ligue 2.

AFP

COVID-19: Nigeria Women Football League Postpone Week Five Games

Logo of the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL).

 

The board of the Nigeria Women Football League have announced the postponement of Week five matches to attend to the issue of collation and validation of COVID-19 test being conducted by the premiership clubs.

The NWFL secretariat confirmed that the clubs have failed to meet up with the directives on COVID-19 test for players and team officials.

“The NWFL do not want to take the risk with any of the clubs going by the fresh wave of increased Covid-19 infections due to the new variants of the deadly disease which have left more people dead in Nigeria than before,” Chairperson of the NWFL, Aisha Falode said on Monday

“We are currently verifying and validating results sent in by some of the 14 clubs not up to half of the clubs in the league.

“We are also going to verify the authenticity of the test centres sent in by the clubs from the Federal Ministry of Health and the relevant state’s Ministry of Health, going by the reports that some clubs are going to unapproved centres to conduct the test.

“Tests from unapproved centres will be rejected after verification and the clubs involved suspended from the league.

“The postponement of the league by one week is due to the tasking process of collation and validation. Because of this, the board of the NWFL found imperative to postpone the Week 5 matches to allow the Secretariat to complete their job on the ongoing Covid-19 test on clubs concerned.”

Falode said that the board has given enough time to the clubs to complete the test and send results with proof (pictures) from government-approved test centres, to the Secretariat by mail and hard copies (original) on or before Friday 15th January 2021.

Falode, who is also a board member of the Nigeria Football Federation, declared that any club found wanting at the end of the exercise will be suspended from the league indefinitely. And the NWFL may have to take over the testing of all the clubs to avoid any of the clubs putting the league into disrepute.

The postponed Week 5 matches will be played on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.

Bayern Munich Told To Start League Season Behind Closed Doors

Bayern Munich's Canadian midfielder Alphonso Davies (4thR) celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal with teammates during the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt on May 23, 2020 in Munich, southern Germany. ANDREAS GEBERT / POOL / AFP
Bayern Munich’s Canadian midfielder Alphonso Davies (4thR) celebrates scoring his team’s fourth goal with teammates during the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt on May 23, 2020 in Munich, southern Germany.
ANDREAS GEBERT / POOL / AFP

 

Bayern Munich must kick off the new Bundesliga season behind closed doors because of a rising coronavirus infection rate in the Bavarian capital, city officials said on Thursday.

The decision puts an end the European champions’ plans to allow 7,500 fans into the Allianz Arena to watch Friday’s opening game at home to Schalke.

“It would be the wrong signal to let spectators into sports stadiums against the background of the current figures,” said Munich mayor Dieter Reiter.

Germany’s politicians have given Bundesliga clubs the green light to allow the partial return of fans into stadiums, providing the rate of infection in each region remains below 35 per 100,000 inhabitants.

However, the figure for Munich was revised to 47.6 per 100,000 on Thursday.

While the defending champions must kick off without fans, set numbers of spectators are expected to attend other Bundesliga matches on the opening weekend of the league season.

Reiter said he could understand the frustration of the club and Bayern’s fans, but “for me, this high number means that we at least have to think about much more drastic restrictions in public life.

“I can’t let thousands of fans into the stadiums at the same time.”

Bayern head coach Hansi Flick accepted the news as they start their quest to win their ninth Bundesliga title in a row.

“I’ve always said I’m in favour of keeping an eye on things,” Flick told reporters on Thursday.

“We have to protect ourselves and make the best of the situation.

“You have to take the numbers into account. These are things that I can’t do anything about, we have to be prepared for them.”

AFP

NFL Will Shut Down For US Election Day So All Can Vote

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 24, 2020 the NFL logo is seen on the side of the NFL Network building in Culver City, a westside neighborhood of Los Angeles. – The NFL said September 3, 2020 it will close all league and team facilities on November 3, the US election day, so all employees have the chance to vote. Chris DELMAS / AFP.

 

The NFL said Thursday it will close all league and team facilities on November 3, the US election day, so all employees have the chance to vote.

The move, announced in conjunction with the NFL Players Association as part of social justice initiatives by the league, comes a week before the season opens with the Houston Texans at the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

League officials and the NFLPA executive committee met Tuesday and agreed upon a number of equality and social justice actions.

The NFL and union will work with state officials to establish polling places at league stadiums.

In the days before the election, the league and union will sponsor educational programs for players and staff regarding voter registration and obtaining absentee ballots as well as voter encouragement programs.

A one-hour program on the eve of the season opener will allow players to discuss work being done by the NFL and union to advance social justice and equality.

Measures also include teams and owners helping to set up meetings between state and local officials and law enforcement leaders to discuss how to reduce conflicts between police and communities.

The NFL and union will also support college education for the children of victims of such conflicts.

A coalition of players has expressed its perspective to government leaders on such issues as bail and criminal justice reform, education reforms and economic opportunity in disadvantaged communities.

More recently, community and non-profit organizations across the nation have received relief aid aimed at diverse communities that have felt a disproportionate impact from the coronavirus pandemic.

AFP

Brazil League Announces August 9 Start Despite Opposition

Handout picture released by the Communication Department of Botafogo showing a man disinfecting the tunnel of the Nilton Santos stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 28, 2020, minutes before the start of the 2020 Carioca Championship match between Botafogo and Cabofriense which will be played behind closed-doors amid the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.  Vitor SILVA / Botafogo / AFP.

 

The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) has set August 9 as the date for the resumption of the national championship, drawing opposition from regional authorities in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

It said on Monday the 20-team second division would resume the day before.

Only one state championship, in Rio de Janeiro, has so far resumed, and that has been beset by controversy as the death toll in Brazil, the second highest in the world, has passed 65,000.

The governor of Sao Paulo, Joao Doria, told a press conference on Monday that teams from the state would not participate in the national tournament until they have finished their regional championship, which has been frozen, with three rounds to play, since mid-March due to the pandemic.

“Regarding the CBF’s decision to resume on (August) 9, the government of the state of Sao Paulo was not consulted beforehand,” Doria said.

The CBF responded with a statement on its website saying that 19 of the 20 clubs, including all those from Sao Paulo, had voted to play and that the Sao Paulo clubs had “reaffirmed their position in contact with the CBF” on Monday. It said teams would play home games outside their states if necessary.

The Paulista championship is Brazil’s most important state league, comprising five teams — Bragantino, Corinthians, Palmeiras, Santos and Sao Paulo — in the national first division and four in the second tier.

AFP

Ghana Cancel League Over COVID-19

ghana-premier-league
File: Photo: [email protected] Premier League

 

Ghana have cancelled the 2019/2020 league season due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials in the African football powerhouse confirmed Wednesday.

“The executive council of the Ghana Football Association has a taken a decision to cancel the 2019/2020 season following a marathon meeting,” the governing body said on its website.

Clubs had played 14 or 15 matches in the 34-round championship, with Aduana Stars leading by one point, when the league was halted in mid March.

The national association opted to nominate Asante Kotoko and Ashanti Gold for the 2020/2021 African club competitions as they were the representatives this season.

Twice winners Kotoko will compete in the CAF Champions League and Ashanti Gold in the CAF Confederation Cup, the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.

The 2020/2021 CAF competitions are scheduled to kick off on August 7, but seem likely to be delayed because of the COVID-19 disease.

AFP

UEFA Chief Says Premature End To French Season May Not Harm Lyon, PSG

This handout provided by UEFA shows UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin giving a press conference closing an executive Committee meeting at the UEFA headquarters on June 17, 2020 in Nyon. – The 2019-2020 Champions League, suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be completed in a ‘Final Eight’ in Lisbon in August, UEFA said. Harold Cunningham / UEFA / AFP.

 

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said on Wednesday that the French football league’s decision in April, guided by the government, to end its season was premature.

“It’s the decision of the French League, the French Federation and of course the French authorities. My personal opinion is that the decision was brought quite early,” said Ceferin at a press conference on the plans for the resumption of European competitions.

UEFA announced that the Champions League will be completed in a ‘Final Eight’ in Lisbon in August.

Lyon, who still have to play their last-16 second leg tie against Juventus, and quarter-finalists Paris Saint-Germain are among 12 surviving teams.

With France’s Ligue 1 already ended, when Lyon attempt to defend their 1-0 lead over Juventus, either in Portugal or in Turin and probably on the weekend of August 7-8, the French club will not have played a match for almost five months.

PSG would return to action in the quarterfinal in Lisbon on August 12-15. They last played when they beat Borussia Dortmund on March 11.

In contrast, the 10 other clubs still in the Champions League all play in leagues that have resumed.

Ceferin said it was unclear if the French clubs would be harmed by their lack of domestic action.

“This season is very special, it will finish differently, so it is very hard to see what exactly is an advantage or disadvantage,” the Slovenian said.

The French League declared the 2019-2020 season over on April 30, two days after Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in a speech that the “2019-20 season of professional sports, particularly football, will not be able to resume”.

PSG were crowned champions. UEFA repeated on Wednesday that it wanted the names of clubs qualifying for next season’s European cup competitions as early as August 3.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, whose club will miss out on European football next season unless they win the Champions League, is challenging the way the French league ended in court.

AFP

Tanzania First African Country To Restart League Amid COVID-19

(Files) Tanzania poses before playing Kenya in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations group match in Cairo last June. Khaled DESOUKI / AFP.

 

Tanzania this weekend became the first African country to resume a national league suspended during March because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Young Africans, who have been champions a record 22 times, won 1-0 away to Mwadui and Coastal Union overcame a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with visiting Namungo Saturday.

Runaway leaders Simba and Azam will both enjoy home advantage Sunday in the other two matches scheduled for this weekend.

Simba have 71 points with 10 matches to play, Azam and Young Africans share second place on 54 and Namungo lie fourth with 51.

Tanzania suspended the 20-club national championship in mid-March as the COVID-19 outbreak began to wreak havoc throughout Africa.

According to the Africa Centre for Disease Control on June 13, 225,126 people in Africa have been infected with 6,051 deaths.

READ ALSO: Messi Caps Barcelona Win Over Mallorca On La Liga Return

Spectators were permitted as the league resumed in the east African state, but the elderly, who are generally most vulnerable to the virus, and children were barred.

Before being allowed into a stadium, fans must wear a face mask, wash hands with soap or use a hand sanitiser, and have their temperature checked.

Once inside, spectators must practice social distancing by sitting or standing several metres apart.

Footballers, referees, coaches and support staff are subject to equally strict measures to combat the virus, and change rooms are fumigated before and after matches.

– Carried on playing –

Burundi, a tiny, landlocked country bordering Tanzania, were the only African country to continue playing top-flight football during the pandemic.

Footballers in Belarus, Nicaragua, Taiwan and Tajikistan also carried on playing while the rest of the global football industry shut down temporarily.

Le Messager Ngozi have 58 points and Musongati 55 in a two-club race for the Burundi title with two rounds remaining, which are set for the weekends of June 20/21 and 27/28.

Ngozi have won the Primus Ligue once while Musongati, who have also reached the FA Cup final, are seeking a maiden title.

Musongati were scheduled to meet Rukinzo in the cup final Saturday but the match was delayed as the country is mourning deceased president Pierre Nkurunziza.

Nkurunziza, 55, who had been due to step down in August after ruling Burundi for 15 years, died last Monday from a heart attack, according to the government.

A devout evangelical who believed he was chosen by God to lead Burundi, Nkurunziza will be succeeded by Evariste Ndayishimiye.

Tanzania played at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt after a 39-year absence while Burundi competed for the first time.

Both the Tanzanian Taifa Stars and the Burundian Swallows exited after the first round having lost their three group matches.

AFP

UEFA Recommends Completion Of League Seasons

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization's headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization’s headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP.

 

UEFA made a “strong recommendation” on Tuesday that domestic European football league seasons, currently on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, be completed.

“There was a strong recommendation given to finish domestic top division and cup competitions,” European football’s governing body said.

It added that “some special cases will be heard once guidelines concerning participation to European competitions — in case of a cancelled league — have been developed.”

UEFA said any further decisions would be announced after its Executive Committee meets on Thursday.

READ ALSO: UK Parliament Resumes Amid Growing COVID-19 Criticism 

League seasons across Europe were halted in March as coronavirus spread across Europe.

The German Bundesliga is set to become the first top-flight league to attempt to restart its season, with clubs expected to agree to a May 9 resumption when they meet on Thursday.

AFP

African Players In Europe: Sarr Sparkles As Watford Stun Liverpool

Watford’s Senegalese midfielder Ismaila Sarr (C) celebrates. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

Ismaila Sarr overshadowed fellow Senegalese Sadio Mane by scoring twice as lowly Watford won 3-0 to end the 44-match unbeaten Premier League streak of runaway leaders Liverpool.

Mane has been among the key figures as the Reds march toward a first league title in three decades, but he had to take a back seat at Vicarage Road as Sarr blossomed.

His pace and trickery unsettled Liverpool and he was rewarded with two goals before setting up Troy Deeney for the third.

ENGLAND

ISMAILA SARR (Watford)

The Hornets’ record signing was up against his idol Mane and stabbed home the opener at the near post and then showed his pace and poise to chip Alisson Becker for Watford’s second. Sarr then turned provider for the third as he teed up Deeney to complete a famous win that lifted Watford out of the bottom three.

JORDAN AYEW (Crystal Palace)

Ayew scored the only goal as Palace got the better of rivals Brighton to ease any fear of being dragged into a relegation battle. The Ghanaian’s strike took his league tally for the season to seven — matching his best tally for a single campaign in England.

MBWANA SAMATTA (Aston Villa)

Samatta did Tanzania proud by scoring in the League Cup final against Manchester City, but his diving header at the near post just before half-time was merely a consolation for Villa as City won 2-1 to lift the trophy for a third straight season.

SPAIN

YOUSSEF EN-NESYRI (Sevilla)

En-Nesyri scored a 93rd-minute winner as Sevilla beat Osasuna 3-2 to move up to third in La Liga. The Moroccan striker, who joined Sevilla from Leganes in January, opened the scoring with a guided shot into the corner before Lucas Ocampos made it two on the stroke of half-time. Osasuna came back in the second half through goals from Aridane and Roberto Torres, only for En-Nesyri to snatch victory for Sevilla in injury-time with a close-range finish.

GERMANY

RAMY BENSEBAINI (Borussia Moenchengladbach)

Algerian Bensebaini scored a crucial early goal for Moenchengladbach as they beat Augsburg 3-2 to keep pace with the top of the Bundesliga table. Bensebaini, in his first start in 2020 after returning from injury, headed home a cross from Lars Stindl to put the visitors 1-0 up. When asked how it felt to be back in the Foals’ line-up after the match, he simply replied “it was fun”.

ACHRAF HAKIMI (Borussia Dortmund)

Having made his name as one of Dortmund’s best going forward this season, the Real Madrid loanee was called on to do more than his fair share of defending against a stubborn Freiburg side. Working on the edge of a four-man midfield, Hakimi’s pace was valuable during the 1-0 win as he snuffed out several Freiburg counter attacks. He did have a shot on goal deflected in the dying stages but was unable to add to his tally of two Bundesliga goals this season.

FRANCE

STEPHANE BAHOKEN (Angers)

The Cameroon striker was rewarded with a start for his team at Brest after coming off the bench against Montpellier last weekend and scoring the winner a minute later. He delivered again in Brest, although he needed a full 43 minutes to bag the only goal of the match this time.

MAX-ALAIN GRADEL (Toulouse)

Ivory Coast winger Gradel, 32, returned to the Toulouse starting line-up last weekend for the first time in a Ligue 1 game since early December following injury. He kept his place and wore the captain’s armband but could not prevent the division’s bottom side from going down 2-0 at home to Rennes. They have now taken just a single point from their last 17 league games and are heading fast towards relegation.

KARL TOKO-EKAMBI (Lyon)

Cameroon forward Toko-Ekambi, who joined Lyon on loan from Villarreal in January, came off the bench and contributed to their 2-0 win over derby rivals Saint-Etienne. Having earlier had a goal disallowed for offside, he won the late penalty which Moussa Dembele scored to seal the victory. Toko-Ekambi had started the 1-0 Champions League last-16, first leg win over Juventus in midweek and hit the bar in the first half against the Italians.

AFP

Europa League Last 32 Draw

UEFA director of competitions Giorgio Marchetti, French former international Eric Abidal and UEFA head of club competitions Michael Heselschwerdt take part in the draw for the round of 32 of the UEFA Europa League football tournament at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on December 11, 2017. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The Europa Leaue last 32 draw made on Monday:

Borussia Dortmund (GER) v Atalanta (ITA)

Nice (FRA) v Lokomotiv Moscow (RUS)

FC Copenhagen (DEN) v Atletico Madrid (ESP)

Spartak Moscow (RUS) v Athletic Bilbao (ESP)

AEK Athens (GRE) v Dynamo Kiev (UKR)

Celtic (SCO) v Zenit St Petersburg (RUS)

Napoli (ITA) v RB Leipzig (GER)

Red Star Belgrade (SRB) v CSKA Moscow (RUS)

Lyon (FRA) v Villarreal (ESP)

Real Sociedad (ESP) v Salzburg (AUT)

Partizan Belgrade (SRB) v Viktoria Plzen (CZE)

Steaua Bucharest (ROM) v Lazio (ITA)

Ludogorets (BUL) v AC Milan (ITA)

Astana (KAZ) v Sporting Lisbon (POR)

Ostersund (SWE) v Arsenal (ENG)

Marseille (FRA) v Braga (POR)

First leg to be played February 15. Second leg February 22

Note: The seeded teams, listed second here, are at home in the second leg

AFP

Sunshine Stars Protest Over Unpaid Wages

Sunshine Stars Protest Over Unpaid WagesPlayers of the Sunshine Stars and staff of the Ondo State Football Agency, have protested over non-payment of salary arrears as well as sign-on fees.

According to the protesters, the government is owing them up to 13 months and 6 months salary arrears for the staff and players as well as sign on fees for the players.

Sunshine Stars are currently 15th on the Nigeria Professional League (NPL) table with just two victories from nine league games.