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Returning to matches, no riskier than leaving home for any other reason – Messi

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Lionel Messi
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The Argentina captain, Lionel Messi says he looks forward to getting back to playing matches believing that he is better off not thinking too much about the risk of being infected by the coronavirus as Spanish football clubs step up their return to activity.

After La Liga’s four-phase protocol for returning to activity since it was halted in March due to the pandemic Messi and his FC Barcelona team mates have been back at the club’s training ground conducting individual sessions since last week.

All 11 remaining rounds of fixtures in La Liga will take place without spectators, with President Javier Tebas saying last week that matches could start as soon as June 12.

ALSO READ  Messi leads Barcelona to quarter final as club trashes Napoli

While some players and clubs have spoken out against football returning out of fear of picking up the virus or passing it on to others, Messi is indifferent.

He said returning to matches was no riskier than leaving home for any other reason.

Messi said, “There’s a risk of infection everywhere, when you leave your house there’s a risk.

“So, I think we shouldn’t think too much about it because if you do you won’t want to go anywhere,” Messi said on Friday.

“But we must understand that it’s essential we comply with the protocols and follow the prevention measures as much as we can. `

“Returning to training is the first step. But we shouldn’t get complacent and we must take all precautions necessary.”

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Messi said while he is excited about returning to matches he is opposed to La Liga’s proposal for teams to be quarantined together, away from their families, once matches resume.

“Personally I’m looking forward to the competition returning. We know it’s going to all be very strange, without anyone in the stands, I’ve done it before and I found it out,” said the Barca captain.

“With regards to being quarantined, the truth is we don’t like the idea of being separated from our families at all. But we’ll have to see what the final plan is.”(Reuters/NAN)

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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Messi leads Barcelona to quarter final as club trashes Napoli

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Barcelona enters Champions League quarter-finals as Lionel Messi led the club to a 3-1 win at home to Napoli on Saturday for a 4-2 aggregate victory.

It is Barcelona’s 13th consecutive time of reaching the last eight and they will face Bayern Munich in a mouth-watering clash in the Final Eight tournament in Lisbon next Friday.

The Catalans had a shaky start but took the lead in the 10th minute with a powerful header from a corner by Clement Lenglet before Messi scored a superb second in the 23rd, seeing off four defenders to curl the ball into the far bottom corner.

ALSO READ  Celtic emerge champions, Hearts relegated as Scottish season ends

Messi had the ball in the net again soon after following a superb team move but the goal was harshly ruled out for handball by the Argentine following a VAR review. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Messi later won a penalty which Luis Suarez converted for Barca’s third.

Napoli got one back when Lorenzo Insigne converted a spot kick at the end of the first half and were the better side after the interval.

Messi had sounded the alarm after Barca’s rusty performance in the 1-1 draw in the first leg back in February, saying they stood no chance of winning Europe’s top prize, which has eluded them since 2015, unless they improved.

He would have been worried by Barca’s stuttering start which saw Napoli swarm all over the home side’s area and Dries Mertens clip the crossbar in the second minute with a scuffed shot.

But Napoli’s slack defending allowed Lenglet to score with a free header which settled Barca’s nerves.

Messi effectively killed the tie off with his goal and by winning the penalty by chasing down Kalidou Koulibaly in the area and earning a foul.

However, the fact Napoli ended the game so well, with Hirving Lozano hitting the post and Arkadiusz Milik’s header ruled out for offside, added to the sense that Barca will struggle to beat Bayern.

The German champions thrashed Chelsea 7-1 on aggregate.

Source: Reuters/NAN

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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Celtic emerge champions, Hearts relegated as Scottish season ends

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Amb. (Dr,) Dickson A. O. Akoh FCITr, FCPA
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Celtic have been declared 2019/2020 Scottish champions for a record-equalling ninth successive season by the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL), while Hearts were relegated.

This ending came after the clubs voted on Monday to end the Scottish Premiership season early because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

`The SPFL has today announced that, following consultation with all 12 top-flight clubs, the Board of the SPFL has determined that the 2019/20 Ladbrokes Premiership has been concluded with immediate effect,” the SPFL said in a statement.

“The decision means that Celtic are crowned 2019/20 champions and Hearts have been relegated to the Championship.

When the season was stopped in March because of the pandemic, Celtic were 13 points clear of Old Firm rivals Rangers, who had a game in hand.

Also, Hearts were four points adrift at the bottom of the standings.

Places were decided on a points-per-game average.

Hearts said they were still considering legal action, saying they had been “unfairly penalised” because of the pandemic.

In a statement, the Edinburgh club said they would be submitting a member’s resolution offering a “pragmatic solution” to the issues the game is facing.

ALSO READ  Celtic emerge champions, Hearts relegated as Scottish season ends

Hearts believe there is an appetite for a restructuring of the Scottish leagues.

“It is our belief that this resolution, if supported, will provide an opportunity to avoid disproportionately disadvantaging —- financially and otherwise —- any club,” the club said.

“This is possibly the final chance for our game to stand together, protect each other and not only survive but flourish in the aftermath of this terrible pandemic.

“As previously intimated, the club has been taking legal advice throughout this process and is continuing to do so.

“We hope that the resolution being prepared will avoid the need to go down this route. Legal action will be both time consuming and expensive.

“However, the cost to the club of relegation will outweigh these considerations.’’

Last week Scottish clubs failed to support a request by Rangers for an independent investigation into SPFL’s handling of the season in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The resolution, backed by Hearts and Stranraer.

ALSO READ  English Premier League clubs to resume training from Tuesday

It was put forward after serious misgivings about how a previous vote on the SPFL’s plan to end the lower leagues early, and possibly the Premiership too, was carried out.

The SPFL executive committee last week met all 12 Premiership clubs about declaring the season over.

Media reports had it that relegated Hearts had made a final push for a revamp of the league structure.

Scotland’s three lowest tiers were ended immediately in April, with positions also decided on a points-per-game average, although the door was left open for a resumption of the Premiership.

That has now been ruled out.

Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers were declared winners of the Championship, League One and League Two respectively.

The SPFL released end-of-season payments of over 1.8 million pounds (2.18 million dollars) to clubs to ease their financial burden.

“We will all have rather seen the league season played out on pitches, in stadiums and in front of supporters,” SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan said.

“COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on sports competitions around the world and the repercussions will be felt for a long time.”

ALSO READ  Park wins in golf’s return to action in South Korea

Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell dedicated the club’s title, their 51st compared to Rangers’ 54, to the fans.

“I am so proud of our team and proud of you for all you have given us,” he said on Celtic’s website.

“While we rightly celebrate this fantastic, deserved achievement, we must take time to consider the wider circumstances we have all been experiencing.”

Celtic also won nine league titles in a row from 1965 to 1974, a feat matched by Rangers from 1989 to 1997.

Credit: Reuters/NAN

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English Premier League clubs to resume training from Tuesday

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Premier League clubs will return to training on Tuesday after agreeing to allow “small group” sessions to begin, the first step on the road to a return to competitive action.

The league held a conference call for all 20 clubs on Monday where the move was given unanimous backing.

It is the first move in the league’s `Project Restart’ plans to restart play in the league, which has not held a game since March 9 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

ALSO READ  English Premier League clubs to resume training from Tuesday

Failure to resume the season could cost the league around 750 million pounds (913.80 million dollars) in lost revenue from broadcasters, according to British media estimates.

Some reports said clubs could lose out even if the league restarts should broadcasters demand a 330 million pounds rebate. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

“Premier League Shareholders today voted unanimously to return to small group training from tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon —- the first step towards restarting the Premier League, when safe to do so,” the league said in a statement.

“Step One of the Return to Training Protocol enables squads to train while maintaining social distancing. Contact training is not yet permitted,” it added.

The Government last week opened the door for the return of elite sport.

But several hurdles remain before the Premier League can resume behind closed doors with the aim of completing the remaining 92 matches of the season.

Clubs will have been encouraged, however, by the return of the Bundesliga at the weekend —- the first major football league in the world to resume after the lockdown.

Project Restart was originally looking at a June 12 resumption date.

But should the clubs agree and, if there is no rise in infections in the country, a return date of June 19 or June 26 appears the most likely.

However, the prospect of clubs playing their remaining matches at neutral venues has receded with more than half speaking out against such a proposal.

The league said the decision to return to `group training’ had been taken in consultation with players, managers, Premier League club doctors, independent experts and the government.

“Strict medical protocols of the highest standard will ensure everyone returns to training in the safest environment possible,” it added.

“The health and well-being of all participants is the Premier League’s priority, and the safe return to training is a step-by-step process.

“Full consultation will now continue with players, managers, clubs, the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) and LMA (League Managers Association) as protocols for full-contact training are developed,” the statement added.

Safety measures are expected to include tents where temperature checks will be conducted, strict hygiene criteria, no canteens and no showers.

A maximum of five players will be allowed per pitch, with tackling forbidden.

Players will be tested twice a week and are being asked to provide written approval that they have received and understood the club’s COVID-19 policy.

Credit: Reuters/NAN

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