Asian football getting ‘closer’ to return, official says

Hilal’s midfielder Bafetimbi Gomis (R, behind) celebrates after scoring a goal during the AFC Champions League group B football match between Hilal FC and Shahr Khodro FC at Zabeel Stadium in Dubai on February 10, 2020. (Photo by KARIM SAHIB / AFP)

Asia’s Champions League is getting closer to a return but it will have to wait until domestic competitions are back in action, a senior football official told AFP on Wednesday.

Football is gradually resuming around the world after closing down because of the coronavirus, although most leagues are still yet to return.

Asian Football Confederation general secretary Windsor John said: “We are approaching closer to the return of football.”

“We have to wait for all the domestic leagues to start first,” added John, when asked about the return of the AFC’s club tournaments.

The AFC Champions League, Asia’s top club competition, and the second-tier AFC Cup have both been on hold since March, along with World Cup and Olympic qualifiers.

Of the 12 countries involved in the Champions League, South Korea is the only league back in action, with four more restarting in June or July and Thailand scheduled for September.

John said the AFC was “still in discussion” about when its competitions will restart, declining to reveal a possible date.

Time is tight for both club tournaments, with the 32-team Champions League needing to complete four rounds of group-stage matches before reaching the knock-out phase.

The Champions League and AFC Cup finals are both scheduled to take place in November.

Asked if there were any proposals to change the tournaments’ home-and-away format to avoid potential infections, John said talks were ongoing.

John said it was a “positive sign” that sport was beginning to return around the world, adding that the AFC had several contingency plans to cope

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AFC and Member Associations underline commitment to complete 2020 Champions League

Competing Member Associations (MA) all agreed the central principle of finding the best way to complete the remaining AFC Champions League season in 2020 in two online meetings held Wednesday by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

The MAs representing Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand in the East Zone and Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Uzbekistan in the West Zone also committed to agreeing a format and timetable for the 99 remaining games as soon as possible.

Recognising the travel and medical restrictions, which differ across the Continent, the AFC proposed a series of options for concluding the AFC Champions League before the start of the scheduled FIFA Club World Cup to be held in Qatar in December.

Following comments by the representatives in the meetings, the AFC will present the format and the dates of the club competitions for the final review, after which the proposal will be submitted to the AFC Competitions Committee for their approval.

The AFC is also holding a series of online meetings with the MAs involved in the AFC Cup in 2020 to agree a format to successfully complete that competition this year. Following a call on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, with the West Zone, there will be further discussions with South, Central, ASEAN and East this week.

It was also agreed that while it was important to consider the commercial implications, the sporting integrity of the competition as well as the safety and wellbeing of all stakeholders were also of the highest priority.

The AFC has been in regular contact with all competing MAs not only on the club competitions but also the Preliminary Joint Asian Qualifiers Round 2 and the centralised AFC U-16 and U-19 Championships and the AFC Futsal Championships.

Al Hilal are the holders (EPA).

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Terence Crawford thinks Manny Pacquiao fight ‘can get made’

FILE -Carlos Adames celebrates after his TKO in the fourth round against Frank Galarza during their junior middleweight fight at Madison Square Garden on April 20, 2019 in New York City. Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Terence Crawford, the undefeated WBO welterweight champion, is confident that a fight against boxing legend Manny Pacquiao would happen.

Crawford said talks have already begun between the two camps and Top Rank chief Bob Arum for a possible showdown.

There’s also mutual interest in making the fight happen. But as far as the money is concerned, that’s another topic to be discussed especially with the ongoing pandemic.

“We’ve been in contact with Bob [Arum], and Manny and them,” said Crawford on “The Ak And Barak Show,” which streams daily on DAZN and SiriusXM, in a story on boxingscene.com. “They want the fight. We want the fight. So basically, we’re trying to figure out the money situation.

“You know, with this pandemic going on right now, it’s kinda hard to put on a big fight and no audience, and not knowing how you’re gonna get your return back. So, you know, we’ve gotta figure out all the details with that first before we can do that.”

Boxing events have been suspended since March, though Top Rank has already scheduled a series of fights to mark the sport’s return beginning June 9 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

Those bouts—like every other sporting event held since the pandemic—will be staged without crowds.
“He (Pacquiao) can’t even fight right now, you know, so it’s not just me. If that fight presents itself, it’s gonna be more money than I ever made in my career to date, probably,” Crawford said.

“You know, so I think that fight can get made, worked out however it will

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