Spain set to finish football season without fans in stadiums

Aerial view taken of the Mestalla stadium in Valencia during the UEFA Champions League Group H football match between Valencia and Atalanta played behind closed doors in light of the coronavirus outbreak (Photo by JOSE JORDAN / AFP)

MADRID — Football matches and other sports events in Spain will take place in empty venues at least until the end of the summer, the mayor of Madrid said Saturday.

José Luis Martínez-Almeida told the Onda Cero radio station that the coronavirus pandemic likely “won’t be under control” by then for events with big crowds to resume normally.

“In the spring and summer there won’t be any events with crowds in Spain, and possibly not in the fall either,” Martínez-Almeida said. “Because obviously the situation will not be fully under control. We will have to change our habits and behaviors even after being allowed to go back on to the streets.”

Spain has been one of the hardest-hit countries with more than 190,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, only behind the United States. More than 20,000 have died in the European nation.

The Spanish league is not expecting to resume at least until the end of May and president Javier Tebas has said he expects to play the first few games in empty stadiums.

“Football matches without fans in the summer is a possibility, as long as health and safety conditions are observed,” Martínez-Almeida said.

The football federation said this week that if the league can’t resume it will use the current standings to decide the four clubs to play in the Champions League, which would mean giving the spots to Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla and Real Sociedad.

The league has said the total losses for not finishing the season because of the pandemic could reach nearly 1 billion euros. ($1.1 billion). The

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Pacquiao-Crawford bout a ‘real possibility,’ says Arum

FILE – Manny Pacquiao prepares to fight Keith Thurman in a welterweight title fight Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Top Rank chief Bob Arum has taken a U-turn from his earlier statements about a potential showdown between top welterweights Manny Pacquiao and Terence Crawford.

After reportedly dismissing a possible title unification bout between Pacquiao and Crawford less than a month ago, Arum now sees the megafight as “a real possibility” of happening.

Arum added in an interview with iFL TV recently that a Pacquiao-Crawford clash is also “one of the things that we’re working on.”

Getting key components to fall into place, however, remains a challenge especially with the current situation where sports continue to be on hiatus due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

One of  the concerns is the need to lower pay-per-view rates but in terms of interest, Arum said there’s no lack of it.

“Pacquiao wants to fight Crawford and Crawford wants to fight Pacquiao.”

The 32-year-old Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs), who holds the WBO crown, stopped Egidijus Kavaliauskas of Lithuania in the ninth round in his last fight four months ago.

Pacquiao, 41, meanwhile, hasn’t fought since scoring an impressive victory over the much younger Keith Thurman to win the WBA (super) crown last July.

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The top ODI wicketkeepers in the world: Quinton de Kock and Jos Buttler in Tier 1

The role of wicketkeepers in cricket has undergone plenty of evolution in the past few decades. For many years, the ability of the player behind the stumps was the defining requisite for the wicketkeepers fielded by every team.

Skills with the wicketkeeping gloves alone, however, are no longer the main benchmark for this role. The exploits of players such as Adam Gilchrist, in particular, has completely changed the outlook of modern-day wicketkeepers.

Wicketkeeper who can also bat well have now become the norm, especially in limited-overs cricket where every single run counts. In the current era, almost every top international side is filled with wicketkeepers who are more than handy with the bat.

Here, we look at the top-eight wicketkeeper batsmen in ODI cricket by separating them into four different tiers.


Kusal Perera – Sri Lanka

While Niroshan Dickwella was persisted in the role for some time, Sri Lanka’s ODI wicketkeeping gloves seem to have settled with Kusal Perera for now.

The left-hander made headlines last year in the Test whites, when he pulled off an all-time great innings of 153 to lead Sri Lanka to the unlikeliest of victories against South Africa in Durban.

He is no mug in the shorter formats either, more suited to his strengths of playing aggressive cricket. An attacking batsman, Perera has registered five tons and 14 half-centuries in 96 ODI innings.

With a batting style similar to that of former Sri Lanka stalwart Sanath Jayasuriya, Perera can muscle bowling attacks off the park when on song. What he lacks is consistency, although an ODI average of 31.04 isn’t too shabby for a wicketkeeper batsman.

His wicketkeeping skills aren’t really elite, but Sri Lanka won’t mind as long as he can do a job with the bat.

Alex Carey – Australia

Alex Carey


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