Barcelona COVID-19 Case Had No Contact With Champions League Squad – Club

Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva / AFP


A Barcelona player has tested positive for coronavirus but he has not been in contact with the squad travelling to Lisbon for the Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich, the club said on Wednesday.

“Following PCR tests conducted this Tuesday afternoon on the group of nine players due to begin the preseason today, one of them has tested positive for COVID-19,” Barcelona said in a statement.

“The player has not been in contact with any of the senior team players who are scheduled to travel to Lisbon this Thursday to compete in the Champions League.”

The club added the player, who they did not name, “has no symptoms, is in good health and has been quarantined at his home”.

Barca, who were beaten to the Spanish title by Real Madrid, face Bayern in the ‘Final Eight’ played behind closed in the Portuguese capital on Friday.


La Liga Faces Heated Debate As It Prepares To Resume

File: La Liga logo


Spanish media rejoiced on Sunday after the government said La Liga could resume, but restarting in June presents many challenges including summer heat, empty stadiums and health rules.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Saturday that football could return from its coronavirus lockdown in the week of June 8.

After closely observing as Bundesliga players acted as lab rats when their league became the first of the major European competitions to return last weekend, Spain, hard hit by the pandemic, will now take its turn.

La Liga has not yet specified when it will kick off or detailed the health protocols it will adopt, but is expected to do so within the next week, according to the Spanish press.

“La Liga is back,” exclaimed the front page of Spain’s best-selling daily Marca, which adorned its front page with a heart formed by the badges of the 20 Liga clubs. Madrid rival AS and Catalan newspaper Sport used the same headline.

Liga president Javier Tebas has been pushing for the league to resume on June 12, with the Seville derby between Real Betis and Sevilla as the curtain-raiser.

Tebas said on Saturday that he was “very happy” with the announcement, but added “We can’t let our guard down”.

The last 11 rounds of the season will be played behind closed doors at a time when most of the country can expect scorching heat.

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At a meeting with La Liga over the weekend, the Spanish Football Players’ Association (AFE), called for cooling breaks during games when temperatures are between 28 and 32 degrees Celsius (82 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit), and for training and matches to be postponed when temperatures rise above 32 degrees, which is common in the height of summer in much of Spain.

Temperatures during training in Valencia on Saturday reached 28 degrees.

La Liga has eagerly announced there would be “football every day” of the week, but the AFE has demanded that clubs be allowed a compulsory gap of at least 72 hours between matches and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) had already started a legal action to prevent that.

RFEF went to court at the start of the season and blocked La Liga, which wanted to maximise broadcast revenues, scheduling games on Monday. A final judgement is yet to be handed down.

– ‘Weird times’ –

Tebas estimated at the beginning of April that if La Liga did not resume broadcasting the losses would amount to a billion euros ($1.09 billion), compared with 300 million euros if it played without spectators.

Between now and the restart, the players, who switched from individual training to small group sessions on 18 May while continuing to observe strict health measures, will have almost three weeks to prepare.

The AFE demanded the players were given at least 15 to 20 days to get match fit.

“We want to return to the competition, but we have to go step by step to get back into shape,” Levante winger and captain Jose Luis Morales told Marca on Saturday. “We won’t have any games to test our fitness, we’ll go straight into the competition.”

The sentiment was echoed by Espanyol central defender Bernardo Espinosa.

“What we’re most concerned about is what can happen physically, injuries,” the Colombian told his club’s website on Friday. “These two months have increased the risk of injury.”

“That’s what my team-mates are worried about the most. We need to regain muscle tone and function and reduce the risk, which has increased, not just because of the time we’ve been out of the game, but also because of the weird times we’ve been going through and the high temperatures.”


Bournemouth Player Tests Positive For COVID-19

Miguel MEDINA / AFP.


An unnamed Bournemouth player has tested positive for coronavirus, the Premier League club announced Sunday, becoming the eighth case involving an English top-flight side.

Bournemouth added the player’s identity would not be disclosed due to “medical confidentiality” and that he would self-isolate for seven days.

“Following strict adherence to the Premier League’s return to training regulations, the club’s training ground remains a safe working environment for players and backroom staff, who will continue to be tested for COVID-19 twice per week,” said Bournemouth in a statement.

The Premier League announced Saturday that there were positive tests at two clubs out of 996 tests conducted on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

The other positive was at a different club which has not been named.

That followed a first round of testing that produced six positive findings announced on May 19 at three Premier League clubs from a total of 748 players and staff.

Those positives included Watford’s Adrian Mariappa and Burnley assistant manager Ian Woan.

For the second round, the number of tests available to each club was increased from 40 to 50.

On Tuesday, squads started non-contact training for the first time since the Premier League was suspended on March 13.

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That an increased number of tests has produced fewer positive findings may be a boost to the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’ plan to resume fixtures in June. Clubs are expected to discuss moving to contact training on Tuesday.

Officials still plan to complete all 92 remaining fixtures, with Premier League chief executive Richard Masters saying on Friday that they were “as confident as we can be” about restarting next month.

Several players still have concerns about returning, among them Watford captain Troy Deeney and Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante, who stayed away from training this week.

As well as Mariappa, two members of Watford’s staff have tested positive, while Hornets manager Nigel Pearson revealed on Friday that several of his players were isolating at home after family members contracted the virus.

Meanwhile, second-tier Hull City confirmed unnamed individuals at their club were the source of two positive results following tests on 1,014 players and staff at all 24 Championship teams over the past 72 hours.

The English Football League declined to name the club but a Hull statement said: “Hull City can confirm two people have tested positive for COVID-19 following the first round of testing at the training ground.”

The statement added the duo, “who are both asymptomatic and feeling no ill effects”, would now self-isolate for seven days in line with EFL guidance before being tested again at a later date.

As with the Premier League, the small number of positive tests will encourage those who want to see the Championship season resume next month.

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany’s Bundesliga has resumed behind closed doors while on Saturday the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, announced La Liga could restart in the week of June 8.


Third Brighton Player Tests Positive For Coronavirus – Club

A laborant at the State Health Authorities of Baden-Wuerttemberg works on a test sample of a suspected case of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus in Stuttgart, southern Germany on January 29, 2020. Marijan Murat / DPA / AFP.


Brighton chief executive Paul Barber on Sunday revealed a third player at the Premier League club has tested positive for the coronavirus, raising fresh concerns about the attempt to finish the English top-flight season.

The unnamed player was tested on Saturday and will self-isolate for 14 days while he recovers from the virus.

The rest of Brighton’s squad will continue to train at home and in solo sessions at the team’s training ground.

Two other Brighton players, who were not named, contracted the virus several weeks ago and have reportedly recovered.

“Unfortunately we have had a third player test positive just yesterday,” Barber told Sky Sports News.

“Despite all the measures we have all been taking over the last few weeks, when the players haven’t been involved in taking any significant training at all, we have still suffered another player testing positive for the virus.

“There are concerns and I think it is normal for all clubs to have those concerns.

“We want to make sure we do all that we can so the protocols that are put into place are safe and secure and mitigate the risk.”

In Germany, Bundesliga 2 side Dynamo Dresden have put their entire squad and coaching staff into two-week isolation after two players tested positive for coronavirus.

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The Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 are due to restart on May 16.

Brighton’s latest positive test comes ahead of Monday’s Premier League meeting, where clubs are expected to debate the plan to complete the season behind closed doors at neutral venues and vote on whether player contracts will be extended until the end of the rescheduled campaign.

The Premier League would like to restart the season in June and play the remaining 92 fixtures by August.

Barber has been critical of the neutral venue idea, insisting that the campaign should still be played on a home-and-away basis as Brighton battle to avoid relegation.

Norwich, Watford and Aston Villa were in the relegation zone when the Premier League was suspended because of the health crisis on March 13.

– ‘Self-interest’ –

Brighton have received criticism for their vocal stance, but Barber insists all clubs will act with a degree of self-interest.

“People will accuse us of self-interest, I totally understand that, but at this stage of the season there is self-interest at every level of the table,” he added.

“There is as much self-interest at the top as there is at the bottom, there is as much self-interest in the middle as there is at the bottom.

“Everyone has different objectives for the season and we are all looking to play out the season, if it is safe to do so.

“We really do want to play and we want to make sure the competition stays as fair as it can be despite these exceptional circumstances that we are facing.”

Aston Villa and Watford have joined Brighton in speaking out against the neutral stadium plan.

But Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has backed the 20 clubs to eventually come to a consensus.

“There are no easy answers, we have to work through it as a collective and I think we will and come out with a consensus in the end,” he told the BBC.

“(The meeting) is another part of the journey in trying to get football back. We would be derelict in our duty if we did not find a way for the game to come back.

“It may prove beyond us, we have huge challenges in order to get it back to complete the season but we are planning on doing so.”


Barcelona In Cup Danger Over ‘Ineligible Player’ Complaint

Barcelona could be thrown out of the Copa del Rey amid claims B team player Juan ‘Chumi’ Brandariz (left) was suspended and ineligible to play against Levante. Credit: Getty Images


Barcelona face being thrown out of the Copa del Rey after Levante’s president confirmed they will complain the Catalan club fielded an ineligible player in the first leg of their last 16 tie.

Levante won the opening match 2-1 last week and believe Barca defender Juan Brandariz ‘Chumi’ played illegally as he should have been serving a suspension.

“Whatever happens on the field of play today, Levante are going to take this situation to the Federation tomorrow,” Levante president Francisco Javier Catalan said, shortly before the second leg at the Camp Nou on Thursday.

“We feel that there is a solid enough precedent to back up the club’s decision to do so.”

Chumi was given a ban after receiving a yellow card while playing for Barcelona’s B team in the Segunda B division.

Barcelona insist a change in the rules, made in November, means the suspension does not carry over into the Copa del Rey.

A source at Barcelona had told AFP Sport earlier on Thursday: “There has been no improper conduct nor a complaint from either Levante or the RFEF.”

Real Madrid were disqualified from the Copa del Rey in 2015 for fielding Denis Cheryshev, despite the player being suspended.

Cheryshev had received three yellow cards while playing for Villarreal in the competition in the previous season.


Rising Stars Of Akure To Recruit New Players

Football Legends Beat Iraq Team In Basra
File photo

Rising Stars Football Club of Akure says it will hold trials on Monday to recruit players below the age of 19 for the club.

The Manager of the team, Seun Betiku, gave the hint during a press conference on Saturday in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

According to him, the emphasis on players at the U-19 level was to ensure that talents were discovered and nurtured in their prime.

Betiku, however, noted that the trial was for young footballers residing in the state.

“The team is being refocused to discover talents, sell to Europe and promote to the main team, Sunshine Stars.

“This is also a way to generate IGR for the state from the sale of players to clubs outside the country,” he said.

Betiku informed that the club’s decision followed the disbandment of the players who represented the club in the last season’s Nationwide League One (NLO).

“The players we will be needing amongst our old players will be re-invited to the team in due course,” he said.

Santos Star;Neymar Launches Comic Book

[highlight]Brazilian football star Neymar was on hand for the launch of his own comic book.[/highlight]

The 68-page comic ‘Neymar Jr.’ is scheduled to be released monthly.

The Santos star joins the ranks of Pelé and Ronaldinho in an elite group of soccer stars to have been drawn by Brazilian cartoonist Mauricio de Sousa.

The strip follows in the tradition of comics such as Roy of the rovers, a British comic about the life of a fictional footballer named Roy Race.

Speculation is rife over whether a heavily-pocketed European club could lure the highest paid Brazilian player away from his native country continue ahead of the 2014 world cup.

Siasia Looking Forward To Harambee Stars’ Coaching Job

Former Super Eagles Coach Samson Siasia has indicated his interest in the Kenyan National Team Coaching job which is presently vacant.

Siasia expressed excitement in getting the coaching job, describing it as an ‘exciting opportunity’ if he gets the Harambee Stars job as he is looking forward to an invitation by the Kenyan Federation.

Kenya is in the same group as Nigeria in the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifiers – both teams will meet on the 22nd of March 2013 in Nigeria.

Siasia who started his career in the game of football as a player of the National Team; the Super Eagles of Nigeria paid his dues as a player and has been through the rudiment as a player, growing into a team coach from the  Nigerian club sides into managing the several national Team of Nigeria in the different cadres.

Siasia started in 2004 as an assistant coach to the Nigeria national team; the Super Eagles and he was later appointed coach of the Nigeria U-20 team; the Flying Eagles in 2004, and he was victorious with the Flying Eagles having Won the U-20 African Youth Championship in Benin in 2005.

In the same 2005, Siasia Qualified the Nigeria U-20 team Flying Eagles for the U-20 World Youth Championship and led the squad to the championship but finished second after leading them into the finals.

He was later appointed the coach of Nigeria’s U-23 dream team in 2007 and 2008 he and the Dream Team won the inaugural Intercontinental Cup in Malaysia.

The U-23 dream team also qualified for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and ended playing second to Argentina after reaching the finals of the Olympics football tournament, he was later appointed the Head Coach of the National team the Super eagles in 2010, a position he stepped down from a dismal performance.

Siasia reacted saying “Managing the Kenyan national team would be an exciting opportunity for me. They have such enormous talent, with players in the local leagues and in Europe. It would not take so long before they become a formidable force in football,” the tactician said.


Partizan Belgrade Denies Markovic’s Sale To Chelsea

Reports making the rounds in England is that European Champions Chelsea have landed themselves a news signing, Serbian Lazar Markovic from Partizan Belgrade as Partizan and Stamford Bridge club are close to signing a deal on the youngster from Serbia.

The club’s management openly denied this move, saying the player is not due to leave the club until 2016 as the 18 year old signed professional forms with Partizan Belgrade in 2011 on a five year deal, which has made it impossible for the player to leave the club until July 2016.

Despite being only 18 years old Markovic has already represented his country. He made his debut early this year and became the youngest player ever to represent the Serbian national team. He currently has five caps to his name.

Markovic is represented by LIAN Sports and that’s the same agent group who brought Matija Nastasic and Marko Marin to the Premier League last summer. They also have Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic as clients and both have been rumoured to be a targets for Chelsea several times. Linking the players with moves to Chelsea helps increase their profile and availability and is often followed by interviews in the press from the agency.

The rumours of a deal have been followed by a denial from Partizan and their sporting director Ljubisa Tumbakovic is quoted by as saying “I swear on my mother, I know nothing about it. On Saturday I spoke with the president Dragan Djuric and he confirmed that he knew nothing of a transfer of Markovic to Chelsea. Perhaps journalists are better informed than us.”

And right on queue his agent has been quoted by the same outlet as saying a deal won’t happen in January “Markovic has a contract with Partizan. Move in January? I can assure you that [a move] will not start in the next session of the market and then we’ll see.”

LIAN Sports are increasingly seeking out opportunities in England for their players and the reported interest in Markovic coincides with a growing awareness of young talent in Serbian football.

Arsenal has also been linked with both Markovic and Ljajic recently.

Juventus return very possible – Fabio Cannavaro

Former Juventus player Fabio Cannavaro has revealed that if the Italian club calls for his return to the club to replace banned coach Antonio Conte,it will be difficult for him to turn them down.

Now Al Ahli adviser Cannvaro who is 38 years old played 127 games for his former club and scored just seven goals in his double spell with Juventus as a player and if what is making the round is true he will be a possible replacement for Conte who was banned for match-fixing and has commenced a ten-month ban.

Conte, 43, was suspended on Friday by the Italian Football Federation for allegedly failing to alert authorities to an attempted fix while he was coach of Sienna.

Cannavaro will be counting himself lucky for this offer as he only obtained his coaching licence last week.

Conte’s assistant Angelo Alessio was also banned, leaving another member of the coach’s coaching staff Massimo Carrera to oversee Juventus’ 4-2 win over Napoli in the Supercoppa Italiana in Beijing on Saturday.

In the meantime, Cannavaro’s potential interest in the Juve job, along with his newly acquired coaching credentials, could signal an end to his two-year association with Al Ahli.