Spanish clubs now allowed to train with groups of 14 players

FILE – Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (R) kicks a ball during a training session at the Joan Gamper training ground in Sant Joan Despi in the outskirts of Barcelona on February 29, 2020 on the eve of the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid and Barcelona. (Photo by PAU BARRENA / AFP)

MADRID — Spanish league clubs are now allowed to train with groups of up to 14 players as the league stays on track to restart in less than three weeks.

Only 10 players were allowed in group training last week because of confinement restrictions that are gradually being lifted across the hard-hit southern European nation where nearly 30,000 people have died with COVID-19.

Group training sessions are part of the penultimate phase before teams can be considered ready to return to competition. Full squad sessions are expected to begin next week, depending on how the coronavirus pandemic progresses.

“We’ve gone through some very difficult and complicated moments during this pandemic and we don’t want to jump the gun,” Spanish league president Javier Tebas said late Sunday in his weekly interview with league broadcaster Movistar.

Players were only allowed to practice individually during the first stage of training.

Tebas said the competition is expected to resume without fans on June 11 — a Thursday — with the Seville derby. He said the popular first-division match between rivals Sevilla and Real Betis would be a good way to mark the return to competition and “honor those who have lost their lives” during the pandemic in Spain.

Tebas said it remains impossible to guarantee the June 11 start date because the decision ultimately depends on how the pandemic and the training phases progress. That would be nearly three months after soccer came to a halt in Spain and most

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French tennis federation approves support fund for struggling players

The French tennis federation will set aside nine million euros ($9.8 million) for its players who financially struggle as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The money will come from a larger 35-million euro ($38.1 million) support plan for French tennis as a whole. It will go to the players ranked outside the Top 100 who won’t receive any compensation from tennis’ international governing bodies.

Bernard Giudicelli, the president of the French tennis federation, told a conference call Monday that 66 male players and 39 female professionals will benefit from the allocation. Beach tennis and paddle tennis players, as well as wheelchair professionals and players with disabilities, can also sign up to the scheme.

The support plan will be operational from June 3 and will last until Aug. 31, 2021. It will also help clubs, coaches, instructors, umpires, other officials and tournament organizers affected by the health crisis.

The men’s and women’s professional tours are suspended until at least July 13.

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LOOK: Jackie Forster shares joy in seeing her kids complete

Jackie Forster (R) with second child Kobe Paras. Image: Instagram/@jackie_forster

Jackie Forster expressed her joy at seeing her five kids together on her youngest son’s birthday.

A picture of her two older sons, Andre and Kobe Paras, and three younger children, Jared, Caleigh and Yohan was posted on her Instagram yesterday, May 24. The family was celebrating Yohan’s fifth birthday.

“Birthday Quarantine… but make it complete. #heartisFull,” she said.

Andre, 24, and Kobe, 22, are her children from her first marriage with cager Benjie Paras. She has been raising her younger kids with husband Michael Franken.

A picture of all her kids together is rare — Andre has preferred privacy after Forster reunited with him and Kobe in 2018.

She had been estranged from them both for over a decade while the boys were in the care of Benjie and his wife Lyxen Diomampo. After multiple attempts to reach out to her boys and a feud with Benjie, she, Andre and Kobe finally patched things up. JB

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