COVID-19: Real Madrid’s Stadium To Be Used As Medical Storage Centre

 

Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu will be used as a storage centre for medical equipment to help Spain’s fight against the coronavirus, the club confirmed on Thursday.

The 81,000-seater stadium will house donations made by businesses and organisations, particularly those that work in the sports sector, before passing them onto the Spanish health authorities.

“Real Madrid, in collaboration with the High Council for Sport (CSD), has launched a project in Madrid to supply and distribute strategic medical supplies to be used in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic,” read a club statement.

It added: “All of the stored supplies will be passed on to the Spanish health authorities, under the authority of the Spanish government, so that the resources, which are so necessary in the current health emergency situation, are employed in the best and most efficient manner.”

READ ALSO: African Celebrities Join Fight Against Coronavirus With Donations, Songs

Spain had recorded more than 4,000 deaths due to the virus, according to the latest figures on Thursday. Madrid is the country’s worst-affected area, with more than 2,000 deaths so far.

AFP

Van Dijk Fears Liverpool Will Win Title In Empty Stadium

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk acknowledges supporters during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Huddersfield at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 26, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Virgil Van Dijk fears Liverpool will be forced to celebrate their first English title for 30 years in an empty stadium as a result of coronavirus chaos.

All Premier League games have been postponed until at least April 3 due to the spread of the global pandemic.

Premier League chiefs are set to meet on Thursday to discuss if it will be possible to continue the season and, if so, in what format.

Games could be played behind closed doors, which would mean Liverpool, who are 25 points clear of second placed Manchester City, winning the title without their fans being present.

That is a depressing prospect for Liverpool defender Van Dijk.

“If we won it in an empty stadium and the fans weren’t there, I’d be gutted for them,” he told several British newspapers on Sunday.

“Obviously, if there are no fans at Anfield, then it will be a bit of a blow. No one wants to play games without the fans.

READ ALSO: Liverpool Vs Atletico Madrid: It Doesn’t Feel Right Losing – Klopp Admits

“Until a decision is made on how we go on from here, then we just have to deal with it. But when it happens, we are still bringing the title to our fans, definitely.”

Liverpool could have wrapped up the title on Monday with a win at Everton if Manchester City were beaten by Burnley on Saturday, but both those games were postponed, along with the rest of the Premier League programme.

Some have suggested the season should be scrapped for safety reason, which would leave Premier League chiefs to decide if Liverpool should be given the title even though the campaign did not reach its scheduled 38-game conclusion.

Sport is expected to be subjected to further restrictions next week, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly ready to announce a ban on major public gatherings.

The sporting programme has once again been decimated on Sunday, although the Super League match between Castleford and St Helens, the All England badminton Championship and Olympic boxing qualifiers are still going ahead in Britain.

AFP

Racists Must Be ‘Kicked Out’ Of Stadiums – Infantino

(file photo) FIFA president Gianni Infantino has pushed for a worldwide ban on spectators who abuse black footballers. Mohd RASFAN / AFP

 

Racists must be “kicked out” of stadiums, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Thursday, as he pressed for a worldwide ban on spectators who abuse black footballers.

Speaking days after England’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria was twice stopped because of chants targeting English players, Infantino insisted the world body would punish racism.

“If there are racists that abuse footballers, we have to stop the game,” he told a press conference on a visit to Dhaka.

“We cannot let the racists win. The football has to continue and we have to punish the people,” Infantino said.

He added it was now easy to identify the culprits in modern stadiums with closed circuit TV and that a “strong message” must be sent.

“They have to be taken, kicked out of the stadium, they must not be allowed to enter into football stadiums any more, and criminal proceedings should be brought against them.

“It’s a crime and it should be a crime in all countries of the world to commit a racist abuse,” he said.

Infantino reaffirmed that if a country bans a spectator because of racism, “FIFA will extend it worldwide because racists have no place in football in any country and no place in any football stadium or arena in any part of the world.”

Six Bulgarians have been indicted for abuse at Monday’s Bulgaria-England game when monkey chants and apparent Nazi salutes overshadowed England’s 6-0 win. Three more are being sought.

One 18-year-old was indicted on Wednesday for using Nazi salutes and four others have been fined and banned from sports events for two years.

Infantino had already condemned the incident in a statement on Tuesday, calling racism an “obnoxious disease that seems to be getting even worse in some parts of the world”.

He said Thursday that on top of stadium action better education was needed.

“We have to educate our youth, our children and those who are a bit older as well,” he said.

Infantino also said that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar “will be the very best World Cup ever” despite new controversy over the heat and empty stadiums after the world athletics championships in September saw some long distance races badly affected.

The FIFA boss insisted that it would be cooler as the football tournament would be in November and December.

“I am sure in Qatar we will witness from a technical point of view, the very best World Cup ever.” He also expressed confidence that the stadiums would be “full”.

“Football is the number one sport in the world. We will fill the stadiums in Qatar and anywhere else in the World easily with the World Cup.”

AFP

Tottenham Extend Wembley Stay While Awaiting New Stadium

Tottenham’s plans to move into their new stadium next month have been derailed CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

 

Tottenham announced on Wednesday they will stay at Wembley until at least the end of February as their frustrating wait to move into their new stadium goes on.

The Premier League home games against Watford, Newcastle and Leicester will all be at the national stadium as the finishing touches are put on their new 62,000-seater home.

The Champions League last-16 home leg with Borussia Dortmund on February 13 will also be played at Wembley.

Chairman Daniel Levy has apologised to supporters and hopes to provide a further update in the next few weeks.

The club are working with contractors and local authorities to determine a schedule for further testing and sign-offs, including the official test events.

Spurs are confident they will move into their own ground this season, with the home game against Crystal Palace in the middle of March a potential date.

“I should like to apologise to our fans and thank you for your continued patience,” Levy said in a statement on the club’s official website.

“The response from those who attended the familiarisation event was great to hear and reinforced our commitment to deliver an exceptional match-day experience for everyone.”

Spurs, currently third in the Premier League, were originally due to move into their new home for the start of this season before putting that back to September.

They have an agreement with Wembley to stay there for the rest of the campaign if necessary.

AFP

Spurs Announce Fan Event As Stadium Move Edges Closer

Tottenham’s plans to move into their new stadium next month have been derailed CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

 

Tottenham have moved a step closer to finally opening their delayed new stadium after the club announced a “familiarisation event” for supporters.

The Premier League team have been playing their home matches at Wembley since their historic White Hart Lane stadium was demolished at the end of the 2016-17 season.

Tottenham had hoped to move into the 62,062-capacity arena on September 15, but the opening has been delayed twice by safety issues at the stadium, which has been constructed on the site of the old White Hart Lane.

Although the north London club will play all of their remaining home games this year at Wembley, they still hope to get permission to move to their new home in the next three months.

In a sign that the stadium is nearing completion, Tottenham revealed 6,000 season ticket holders will be allowed to visit the south stand of their new arena on December 16.

It will be the first event at the new stadium involving supporters.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said earlier this month that he is hopeful they will be playing in the new stadium by January or February.

And Pochettino on Friday admitted he is pleased to see progress being made.

“It makes me feel we are close to competing there. It’s an important thing for the fans to show our new home and it makes me very happy,” Pochettino said.

AFP

Beckham Celebrates As Miami Voters Approve Path To Stadium

David Beckham (file)

 

David Beckham was celebrating in South Florida on Tuesday after his dream of building a team in Major League Soccer took a notable step forward.

The former England captain’s push to bring a franchise to Miami has been hamstrung for close to five years with a suitable venue for a new stadium extremely difficult to find.

But voters in Miami on Tuesday came out in favour of a change in regulations that will allow his ownership group — Miami Freedom Park Group LLC — to negotiate a 99-year lease for the latest target: city-owned land at the Melreese Country Club, the city’s only municipal golf course, near Miami airport.

The measure voted on Tuesday, which allows for a no-bid process in negotiations, had a 60 per cent lead with 88 per cent of precincts reporting.

The 73-acre site is the fifth location put forward by Beckham, whose investment group consists of Jorge Mas and his brother Jose, owners of local infrastructure company MasTec, as well as Sprint chairman Marcelo Claure and SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son.

The saga has stretched on since February 2014, when Beckham first announced his intentions to own a franchise.

There’s much more work to do, yet the 43-year-old Londoner was delighted to have cleared the latest hurdle in what has been a torturous process so far.

“I need to say a big thanks to the fans who have stuck by us,” the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy star told AFP after speaking emotionally in front of an excitable crowd in Coral Gables, many of whom were decked out in Inter Miami FC colours.

“Today is an exciting day,” Beckham said. “We have had a dream of bringing a team to this great city. We want to create a legacy, something our children will aspire to.

“But we also want to win. I am not coming here just to have a pretty team. Winning championships are important to me.”

Hurdles remain 

The next step, however, is far from straightforward.

Beckham’s group must now earn approval from four of the five city commissioners. Two of them — Manolo Reyes, a staunch critic of the plans, and Willy Gort, whose district includes Melreese — opposed the referendum earlier this year.

Furthermore, with the Melreese site built on a toxic waste dump which could cost upwards of $35 million to clean up, doubters have suggested the plans will encounter many more roadblocks before building permits are granted, something which must happen by November 2019 according to the previously agreed MLS expansion agreement.

Critics fear the clean-up costs could spiral and leave the taxpayers footing the bill — a daunting prospect after the uproar caused after baseball’s Miami Marlins Stadium fiasco left locals with a tab which has almost reached $3 billion.

Beckham’s lavish $1 billion, privately financed project will include a stadium complex as well as a huge shopping mall, a 750 room hotel, office space and a 58-acre public park.

Locals were encouraged to vote ‘yes’ to ensure jobs and other benefits for Miami including $20 million to help reinvigorate other public parks in the area.

MLS stress the team will begin playing in 2020 although it will have to be at a temporary venue, potentially at the Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, or the Marlins baseball stadium.

“We will look at all options,” Jorge Mas said.

AFP

Collapse Of Wembley Sale ‘A Blow For Grassroots Game’

In this file photo taken on April 27, 2018, outside Wembley Stadium in west London, on April 27, 2018. Fulham owner Shahid Khan has withdrawn his offer to buy London’s Wembley Stadium, England’s governing Football Association announced on October 17, 2018.
Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

The collapse of the proposed deal to sell Wembley stadium has been described as a “huge disappointment” and a missed opportunity by two of the biggest sponsors of grassroots facilities.

Fulham owner Shahid Khan had offered the English Football Association £600 million ($787 million) for the national stadium, as well as letting it keep the Club Wembley hospitality business, worth around £300 million.

But the American businessman withdrew his controversial offer on Wednesday.

FA chairman Greg Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn were both strongly in favor of the deal and wanted to use the money to fix England’s dilapidated changing rooms, waterlogged pitches and stretched 3G facilities.

They hoped Khan’s £600 million could be the catalyst for a total investment in community facilities over the next 20 years of £3.3 billion.

But in separate statements, Glenn admitted the proposed sale had been “more divisive than anticipated”, while Khan said it had become clear “there is no definitive mandate to sell Wembley”.

The UK’s largest sports charity, the Football Foundation, would have been the vehicle the FA used to pick, manage and fund the projects, as it currently does with the funding it receives from the FA, Premier League, and government.

“News that Mr. Khan has decided to withdraw his offer to buy Wembley should come as a huge disappointment to community footballers everywhere,” it said in a statement.

“Football participation in this country is huge. Unfortunately, those who play the game, simply for the love of doing so and for the health benefits, are having to put up with a stock of community football facilities that is in a shameful state.

“This would have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make considerable inroads into probably the most pressing issue facing football in this country.”

Nick Bitel, the chairman of Sports England, the government agency that funds grassroots sport, also expressed his disappointment.

“We agree with the view that the Wembley Stadium offer was a huge opportunity to boost funding into the development and maintenance of artificial and grass pitches up and down the country,” he said.

“Now that this deal is off the table, we hope the football family will now consider other ways the much-needed additional funds for grassroots facilities can be generated.”

Former FA chief executive Mark Palios described the collapse of the sale as a “massive concern” for the grassroots game.

AFP

Tottenham To Complete New Stadium ‘Before Christmas’, Says Pochettino

Tottenham’s new stadium                                                                                         Credit: Getty Images

 

Mauricio Pochettino is confident Tottenham will be playing in their new stadium by the end of the year and said once they are installed there will be “no excuses” for not winning trophies.

Spurs were supposed to be in their 62,000-seater arena from the middle of this month but failures to “critical safety systems” meant their move was delayed and they have yet to announce a new date.

They have a Premier League fixture against Manchester City booked in at Wembley on October 29 while they will also play all three of their Champions League home group games at the national stadium.

The club also opted to play their League Cup third-round game against Watford on Wednesday at the ground of Milton Keynes Dons, about 50 miles (80 kilometres) away.

Work is still going on at the site of their White Hart Lane stadium and manager Pochettino is hoping for an early Christmas present after recently discussing the topic with chairman Daniel Levy.

“I am confident. This year. I am confident this year,” Pochettino said. “I had some private conversation with Daniel. I think they are confident.

“They are working hard to try to find the solution. I hope before the year, before Christmas, we can play. That’s my wish.”

The last trophy Spurs won was the League Cup in 2008 and the Argentine manager is desperate to end the drought.

“First of all we need to finish the stadium and build the trophy cabinet,” he said.

“There will not be an excuse afterwards, we need to win trophies. It is no use having a massive house but being unable to put furniture inside.”

AFP

UEFA Lifts Champions League Stadium Alcohol Ban

Leicester Face Atletico Madrid In Champions League Quarter-Finals

 

UEFA’s executive committee has ended an alcohol ban in stadiums on Champions League and Europa League matchdays, a move which supporter associations queued up to welcome Tuesday.

The governing body of the European game amended its safety and security regulations to permit alcohol distribution in competitions it runs, albeit “within the limits permitted under national and local law”.

That means alcoholic beverages can be sold in countries where local regulations allow their sale at sporting venues, such as Germany, although notably not England and France.

Ronan Evain, CEO of Football Supporters Europe, a group bringing together fans from some 40 countries, welcomed the move.

“For a long time football supporters have felt unfairly treated compared with fans of other sports like rugby, to say the least.

“It is not the sport you follow that makes you behave better or worse,” Evain said in a statement.

AFP

Russia To Spend Big On Stadiums After World Cup

FILE COPY Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with Qatar’s Emir at the Kremlin in Moscow. Photo Credit: SERGEI KARPUKHIN / POOL / AFP

 

Russia intends to spend more than $200 million (or 162 million euros) to make sure stadiums built for the World Cup do not go to waste after the showpiece ends.

The hosts are trying to use the football final to revive fan interest in the struggling domestic leagues.

Each of the 11 host cities is either getting a brand new arena or having an existing one refurbished from the ground up.

The idea is to replace cavernous all-purpose stadiums in which supporters are exposed to the sun and snow with modern ones outfitted with the latest amenities.

Vladimir Putin issued an order last October requiring his government to draft a World Cup “legacy” programme that raises club-match attendance and boosts youth player development.

But the question long facing Russia has been how to reap rewards from the massive investment in cities where local clubs play second-tier football.

The cabinet’s proposal reported by state media on Tuesday admits that the government will have to foot the bill in some places until 2023.

“Keeping in mind the high cost of stadium operations and the low expected football club revenues, it is impossible to expect stadium use to be commercially viable in the next 3-5 years,” the government programme says.

The RIA Novosti state news agency said the government wants to assign 16.6 billion rubles ($265 million) to the legacy programme.

Most of that money — $190 million — will come from the federal budget and be assigned to keeping stadiums open in seven of the smaller host cities.

Some of the money will also be spent on training facilities and youth football centers.

Russia admits that it will not turn a profit as host.

But it views the international football extravaganza as a chance to make a long-term investment in a game that has struggled since Soviet times.

It also dearly wants to avoid getting stuck with white elephants,  stadiums built for major events that turn into abandoned symbols of mismanagement and excess.

The problem has most recently attracted attention after the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil.

AFP

Qatar Unveils World Cup’s First ‘Reusable’ Stadium

Qatar Unveils World Cup's First 'Reusable' Stadium
File photo

 

Qatar on Sunday unveiled the design for what it claims is the World Cup’s first ‘reusable’ stadium, the seventh of eight expected venues that will stage games during the 2022 tournament.

Ras Abu Aboud is a 40,000 seater stadium that will be built on Doha’s southern waterfront and host matches up to the quarter-final stage.

After the tournament, the stadium will be taken down, with the parts put into containers in the hope it will be reassembled and used elsewhere.

“This venue offers the perfect legacy, capable of being reassembled in a new location in its entirety or built into numerous small sports or cultural venues,” said Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general of Qatar’s World Cup organising committee.

Among the materials used in the construction of the stadium are modified shipping containers, according to a statement from Thawadi’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.

The stadium should be completed by 2020, said the committee.

The architects are a Madrid-based company, Fenwick Iribarren, who were also chosen to design another tournament venue, the Qatar Foundation stadium.

Qatar has now revealed the designs for all venues expected to be used in 2022 except the Lusail Stadium, which will host the opening game and World Cup final.

Although Qatar’s initial bid was for up to 12 stadiums, it is now scheduled to play matches at just eight venues.

FIFA is yet to make a final decision on the number of stadiums to be used during 2022.

Since controversially being chosen by FIFA to host the tournament in 2022, Qatar has found itself at the centre of a global storm.

It has been criticised over human rights and labour abuses and blighted by allegations of corruption.

Most recently it has found itself accused of supporting terrorism as part of a bitter dispute involving Doha and its Arabian Gulf neighbours Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain, as well as Egypt.

Thawadi said in Sunday’s statement that the diplomatic crisis had not ‘impacted’ on Qatar’s preparations for the World Cup.

Qatar’s government has said it is spending $500 million a week preparing for the World Cup.

Finance minister Ali Shareef al-Emadi told local media earlier this month that 65 per cent of all World Cup projects have been completed.

Earlier this year Qatar unveiled its first completed World Cup 2022 venue, the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, which will also be used to host the World Athletics Championships in two years’ time.

AFP

FIFA Confident St. Petersburg Pitch Will Be Ready

fifaWorld football’s governing body, FIFA has expressed confidence that the mobile pitch at St. Petersburg will be ready on time for the Confederations Cup in June, after being plagued by safety concerns.

The construction of the 68,000-seat stadium in St. Petersburg, which is one of the 12 venues selected for the 2018 World Cup, has been faced with a number of problems since its beginning in 2007.

The Zenit Arena is scheduled to host one of the world cup semi-finals, as well as six other matches in the tournament.

It would also host four matches in the 2017 Confederations Cup tournament next summer, including the final.