No more ‘kissing the ball’ in South American football

FILE – In this Wednesday, June 27, 2018 file photo, Brazil goalkeeper Alisson kisses the ball after makes a save during their World Cup soccer match against Serbia.  (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

There will be no more kissing the ball for good luck in South American football.

Also, forget about exchanging jerseys — and even spitting or blowing noses on the field.

The governing body of football in the region has released a series of specific regulations amid the coronavirus pandemic to protect everyone’s health when the Copa Libertadores — the continent’s biggest club competition — eventually resumes.

There is no date set for when the tournament will restart, and it may not be until September as South American nations continue to struggle to contain the virus. The Copa Libertadores and the second-tier Copa Sudamericana were suspended in March.

CONMEBOL approved changes to its regulations to adapt to the pandemic late Wednesday, adding the requirement to test players and others involved in matches. It will create a “medical registry” to keep track of results, and those who refuse to be tested won’t be allowed to compete. Clubs that don’t cooperate can be fined.

Among the additions to the regulations is the prohibition for “players and officials to kiss the ball before, during and after the match.” They also won’t be allowed to spit or blow their noses while on the field or on the benches.

Their body temperatures will be checked before the matches, and everyone on the bench will be required to wear masks at all times.

Players will be “prohibited to exchange or give away their shirts or any piece of their uniform to opposing players, teammates or any other person.” The traditional exchange of pennants between team captains before matches also won’t be allowed.

Players and the coaching

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Tokyo-bound Eumir Marcial decides to turn pro

FILE – The Philippines’ Eumir Felix Marcial celebrates after knocking out Vietnam’s Nguyen Manh Cuong to claim the gold medal in the men’s boxing middleweight event during the 30th Southeast Asian Games. INQUIRER PHOTO/ Sherwin Vardeleon

MANILA, Philippines–Olympics-qualifying national boxer Eumir Felix Marcial confirmed Wednesday he will turn professional soon.

“I will sure go with the best deal, the fairest deal,” he said in Filipino in an interview with Inquirer columnist Percy Della.

Della will reveal more details of the decision in his Southpaw column on Inquirer Sports that will come out on Friday.

There was no indication as to which promotional outfit Marcial will sign with but Della wrote that only three managers remain in the running.

Those managers have offered practically the same package: a huge signing bonus plus a stipulation in their contracts that they will not stand in the way of Marcial’s Olympic bid in Tokyo next year.

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Chinese Super League set to kick off in late June

FILE – In this Dec. 20, 2015, file photo, Guangzhou Evergrande FC’s Zheng Long, right, and Sanfrecce Hiroshima’s Tsukasa Shiotani, left, leap to head the ball during their match for the third place at the FIFA Club World Cup soccer tournament in Yokohama, near Tokyo. The Chinese Super League is reportedly set to kick off in the last week of June 2020, two weeks after lower-tier leagues are scheduled to begin in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down sports globally.(AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama, File)

BEIJING — The Chinese Super League is reportedly set to kick off in the last week of June, two weeks after lower-tier leagues are scheduled to begin in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down sports globally.

Chinese state media report the top-flight season could begin June 24 if case numbers continue to subside, while the People’s Daily newspaper reported the proposed starting date as June 27 in a Twitter post on Thursday.

The 16-team league is likely to play a compressed, conference-style competition to make up for the time lost while China was locked down after being the epicenter of the virus outbreak.

The number of new cases of COVID-19 in China has been on the decline and domestic travel restrictions are being gradually eased. But the borders remain closed to non-citizens, meaning some of the high-profile foreign players and coaches could be absent when the league gets underway.

There has been speculation that fans will be allowed into stadiums from when the league commences, unlike other parts of the world where play in some sports has resumed or is set to begin in empty venues.

The head of the Chinese football association last week said clubs should implement temporary player pay cuts of 30% to 50% to help

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