British government hails ‘sporting recovery’ live events get go-ahead

FILE – Britain’s Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden arrives at 10 Downing Street in central London on February 13, 2020. – Britain’s prime minister revamped his top team on February 13 in his first cabinet reshuffle since taking Britain out of the European Union. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP)

“The British sporting recovery has begun” the UK government proclaimed as it approved the return of domestic competitive action behind closed doors from June 1.

Major professional competitions have been shut down since March because of the coronavirus.

But with much of the country still in effective lockdown, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden, told a Downing Street news conference on Saturday: “For more than two months after sport stopped and after weeks of round-the-clock discussions with medical experts and professional sports bodies, I’m delighted to announce today that the government has published guidance which allows competitive sport to resume behind closed doors from Monday (June 1) at the earliest.”

Horse racing is set to be the first major sport back in action at Newcastle on Monday, with the first Classic meeting of the season, featuring the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, on June 6.

“The British sporting recovery has begun,” said Dowden.

Saturday’s guidance, drawn up with clinicians and governing bodies, forms the third stage of British sport’s return from lockdown.

Stage two, which allowed for close-contact and competitive training for elite athletes, was published last Monday.

It will now be up to individual sports to carry out their own risk assessments, with Dowden saying they “know their sport best”.

As well as ensuring no spectators are present, sports bodies must ensure everyone entering a venue is screened for the coronavirus and anyone suspected of having COVID-19 must be placed in isolation.

Movement channels will be established, while social

Read More

‘Return to normal life’ as Italy’s Serie A resumes on June 20

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 02, 2019 the Italian Serie A official soccer ball and logo are pictured prior to the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Parma at the Juventus stadium in Turin.(Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

Italy’s Serie A was given the green light on Thursday to resume on June 20 after a three-month absence as one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic begins to ease restrictions.

Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said that the government’s Technical and Scientific Committee (CTS) had agreed to the health protocol proposed by Italian football chiefs.

“Italy has started to return to normal life again, it is only right that football should do the same,” said Spadafora.

“The federation assured me that it had a Plan B and a Plan C.

“In light of these considerations, the championship can resume on June 20.”

Italian football federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina told the minister during the video conference there would be a play-off system if the championship were again interrupted, while the existing standings would be used if it were stopped.

“We had a very useful meeting,” said Spadafora. “From the start, I said that football could restart once all the security conditions had been met.”

No top-flight matches in Italy have been played since Sassuolo beat Brescia 3-0 on March 9.

One of the hardest hit countries by the coronavirus pandemic with over 33,000 deaths, Italian football now faces a scheduling nightmare, for matches which will take place behind closed doors.

“I’m happy and satisfied,” said Gravina.

“The restart of football represents a message of hope for the whole country.”

Lega Serie A will meet on Friday morning to examine the different calendar hypotheses for the remaining Serie A and Italian Cup matches, amounting to

Read More

Lionel Messi looking forward eagerly to ‘weird’ La Liga restart

FILE – In this Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020 file photo, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Eibar at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort, File)

Barcelona and Argentina captain Lionel Messi said he was eager to start playing again but thought La Liga games behind closed doors would feel “weird.”

Messi, who after a few weeks confined like the rest of Spain by the coronavirus pandemic, is training with Barca again ahead of a planned resumption of La Liga behind closed doors on June 12.

“We cannot think about what we are leaving behind this year. It is better to think about the future,” said Messi on the website of sports brand Adidas.

“Like going back to day-to-day training, seeing your teammates, playing your first few games. No doubt it will be strange at first, but I am looking forward to competing again!

He said playing without fans “implies a series of challenges. The preparation at squad level is the same as for any other match, but it is true that individually you have to train and get mentally prepared to play without people because it is very weird.”

“It will be like starting over,” he said. “Technically it will be the same season, but I think all teams and players will experience it differently.”

Messi was due to lead Argentina this summer in the Copa America, where his country are joint hosts with Colombia, but in March, the competition was postponed to June and July next year.

“Postponing the Copa America was a huge disappointment, but of course it was reasonable and most logical,” Messi said.

“The Copa was going to be a big event for me this year and I was

Read More