Players demand reform and ‘real professionalism’ on cancellation of women’s Serie A

Female players have written an open letter demanding more resources following the cancellation of the Women’s Serie A. 

The Italian FA concluded in a statement that it was “impossible to resume activities”, adding that clubs reached the same collective view at a meeting last Thursday. The men’s Serie A is scheduled to return on June 20th, having first been suspended on March 9, with 12 rounds of matches remaining. Male group sessions restarted earlier this week. 

Now players in the Women’s Serie A – including Roma’s Andrine Hegerberg, the sister of previous Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg – have issued a statement explaining that women’s football in Italy “needs to be reformed”, with better protections for players and “real conditions of professionalism”. 

The statement appeared to have been written before the Italian FA ratified the decision to end the league, given it expressed concern for players who had not yet been able to return to training. It also lamented: “After many months of inactivity, unresolved health and organizational criticisms remain and we are almost close to the start of a new season.” 

“While we waited and worked on a recovery, the true reality of our sport has emerged,” the statement – written in Italian – began. “The emergency has in fact highlighted all the weaknesses of a still unripe but promising system that has been growing in recent years and that has had to face a lightning and very serious situation.

“While discussing the reboot, we cannot do [so] from the same point of view. Many footballers have not yet been called up for training. They are unable to practice their sport and are disappointed that they do not have this opportunity. 

“Our system needs to be reformed. Time to decide which direction we must take. We are the female Serie A players: we talk about us and the companies of the national team that some of us are talking about and that we feel are ours. But it is time to guarantee the right protections for all of them, professional status and real conditions of professionalism.

“We also believe that the real opportunity that has emerged in recent months, or perhaps a need that can no longer be postponed, is to push this system upwards, making it grow […] together with our clubs and our federation, to give substance and real resources to this piece of football that is already at the image level and in the hearts of many.” 

An algorithm implemented by the federation determined the league’s final standings, with Juventus finishing first but not winning the Scudetto and Orbica relegated. Napoli will be promoted from Serie B and Fiorentina, with a better goal difference than AC Milan, will qualify for the Champions League. The 2020-21 Serie B season will be expanded to 14 teams. 

The Italian FA had previously proposed play-offs involving six of the 12 teams to end the league – which the players rejected

3:24PM

FOOTBALL: League Two update

League Two clubs have voted by an overwhelming majority to formally end the season, meaning promotion for Swindon, Crewe and Plymouth, the EFL has announced.

Swindon have been confirmed as champions with Crewe and Plymouth also promoted.

Cheltenham, Exeter, Colchester and Northampton will contest the play-offs with the first games on June 18.

The bottom team is still to be decided with Stevenage currently on the foot of the table but second-bottom Macclesfield facing a potential points deduction, while relegation will only be ratified if National League can give assurances that its competition will go ahead.

Forest Green chairman Dale Vince, who has been a strong advocate of completing the 2019-20 season, said on Twitter that his club were the only ones who voted to play on.

“The question of whether to play out our season or quit has just been voted on,” he wrote. “Only one vote in favour of playing on (FGR) – surprised by that. So L2 season is done. Shame, but we’ll focus on the new one, whenever that comes and in whatever shape it take.”

Vince told the PA news agency: “I think it’s been a good day for football. The vote this morning was a good common sense outcome which respects the integrity of the game as far as that’s possible when you don’t finish the season.

“And then the vote this afternoon was not unexpected. The vote to end League Two prematurely, we knew that was coming.

“We voted to play on but we were a lone voice sadly. So we at least have some certainty now, we know what’s happening, and we can focus on the new season which I hope may start in September.”

3:17PM

FOOTBALL: League Two season ended

League Two clubs have voted by an overwhelming majority to formally end the season, meaning promotion for Swindon, Crewe and Plymouth, the EFL has announced.

More to follow

3:04PM

GOLF: LPGA loses a major

The LPGA Tour lost its first major because of the Covid-19 pandemic when it announced on Tuesday that the Evian Championship in France has been cancelled this year.

The LPGA Tour cited ongoing travel and border restrictions, along with government quarantine requirements for not holding the tournament on Aug 6-9. It will return to the schedule next year in Evian-les-Bains.

The LPGA Tour is due to resume in Ohio with the Marathon Classic on July 23-26. For now, it has majors scheduled in August, September, October and December.

“I have been incredibly impressed by the entire team at the Evian Championship. They worked so hard to host this global event despite the obvious challenges,” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said.

“They know that high-pursed, career-changing events like the Evian are more important than ever, especially in an LPGA year that has been drastically reduced due to COVID-19. I know this was a tough decision for everyone involved, but it’s one that we had to take given the restrictions we faced.”

AP

2:34PM

F1: Mercedes back in practice

2:17PM

CRICKET: ICC announces temporary Covid-19 law changes 

The International Cricket Council  has confirmed interim changes to its playing regulations, which include the ban on the use of saliva to shine the ball and allowing home umpires in international series.

The ICC Chief Executives’ Committee ratified recommendations from the Anil Kumble-led Cricket Committee, aimed at mitigating the risks posed by the Covid-19 virus and protect the safety of players and match officials when cricket resumes.

Covid-19 Replacements: Teams will be allowed to replace players displaying symptoms of Covid-19 during a Test match. In line with concussion replacements, the Match Referee will approve the nearest like-for-like replacement.

However, the regulation for Covid-19 replacements will not be applicable in ODIs and T20Is. 

Ban on applying saliva to the ball: Players will not be permitted to use saliva to shine the ball. If a player does apply saliva to the ball, the umpires will manage the situation with some leniency during an initial period of adjustment for the players, but subsequent instances will result in the team receiving a warning. 

A team can be issued up to two warnings per innings but repeated use of saliva on the ball will result in a 5-run penalty to the batting side. Whenever saliva is applied to the ball, the umpires will be instructed to clean the ball before play recommences.

Non-neutral umpires: The requirement to appoint neutral match officials will be temporarily removed from the playing conditions for all international formats owing to the current logistical challenges with international travel. The ICC will be able to appoint locally based match officials from the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Match Officials and the Emirates ICC International Panel of Match Officials.

Additional DRS reviews: The CEC has also confirmed an additional unsuccessful DRS review for each team in each innings of a match, keeping in mind that there may be less experienced umpires on duty at times. This will increase the number of unsuccessful appeals per innings for each team to three for Tests and two for the white-ball formats. 

The ICC Cricket Operations team will support Match Referees when processing Code of Conduct breaches, and a neutral Elite Panel match referee will conduct any hearing remotely via video link.

An earlier media release on the recommendations of the Cricket Committee and details on appointment of match officials is available here

Additional logo allowed: Meanwhile, the CEC has also approved a relaxation of rules on apparel logos for the next 12 months. 

A logo, not exceeding 32 square inches in size, may be placed on the chest of the Test match shirt and sweater in addition to the three other logos allowed as per regulations. As of now, logos on chests are only allowed in ODIs and T20Is.

1:12PM

EFL clubs vote to retain promotion, relegation and play-offs

English Football League clubs have voted to retain promotion, relegation and the play-offs and to use an unweighted points-per-game system to decide the final table if the season is curtailed, PA reports.

The model was the one set out by the EFL’s board, and the league said it was “overwhelmingly agreed” to adopt it into the competition’s regulations at a meeting on Tuesday.

Leagues One and Two will vote later today on whether to curtail the 2019-20 season using the agreed model.

The Championship is set to play on, with the competition set to restart on June 20.

Barnsley and Tranmere set out alternative plans to the one proposed by the EFL board.

Barnsley’s removed relegation in any division which had to be curtailed, while Tranmere’s suggested adding a margin for error to the basic points-per-game calculation.

Three other clubs — Lincoln, Ipswich and Stevenage — had also put forward amendments to the EFL board’s proposal, but the original plan set out by the league is the one which has been adopted.

EFL chairman Rick Parry said: “Whilst it has always remained the board’s position to play the remainder of the season where possible, the decision reached at today’s meeting follows a full and considered consultation period with our member clubs.

“The board has endeavoured to listen to all views and alternative approaches but understands that the decisions taken will not be met with universal satisfaction from all clubs.

“Today’s outcome ensures that the league and its clubs remains as faithful as possible to the previously agreed regulations and that there is consistency in the approach adopted across the EFL in all divisions if required.

“It is clear that the challenges facing the league from the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic are unprecedented and I thank the contribution of EFL clubs in making this important determination.”

Forest Green chairman Dale Vince, who has been a strong advocate of completing the 2019-20 season, said on Twitter that the model adopted was the “common sense” approach.

He had previously derided Tranmere’s model as being overly complex and “designed specifically” to prevent the Wirral club being relegated to League Two.

12:47PM

Women’s football ‘pushed aside’ during Covid-19 crisis, says Smith

Kelly Smith, the former Arsenal and England striker, believes women’s football has been “pushed aside” after the decision was taken to end the English domestic season rather than find a way of completing the campaign.

The Women’s Super League (WSL) and Championship campaigns were brought to an early end on May 25 amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Chelsea being confirmed as WSL champions on a points-per-game basis last week.

The Football Association said at the time the season was curtailed that the decision was made following “overwhelming feedback” from the clubs and that the move was “in the best interests of the women’s game”.

Smith was disappointed that the financial commitment to continue the men’s game, which has included the Premier League centrally funding the reported £4 million cost of coronavirus testing in an attempt to get the 2019-20 completed, was lacking at WSL level.

“I was hearing figures of £3 million and upwards for testing and putting procedures in place just to get back into training,” Smith told PA News.

“That figure in the women’s game in this country is unheard of, and I don’t know if the FA would have been happy to put the money towards that, rather than just write the season off and go again.

“I would have preferred they had would have gone the route of putting the money in and making it more of a level playing field with the men. It just seems to always happen that the women get pushed aside a bit, and it’s unfortunate.”

Smith added that it was a “sad” way for the season to end, and felt even for Chelsea the championship would have tasted less sweet than securing it on the pitch.

“I do feel an injustice for Liverpool being relegated, because they would have felt like they could have got out of that situation at the bottom of the league with about eight games to go,” she added.

“I also feel sorry for Arsenal because they missed out on a Champions League spot. It’s a sad way to end the season and certain clubs are going to be hurting because of that.

“I’m sure Chelsea would have preferred the season to be finished and be called outright champions rather than it being just given to you like that because you were the best team at that point in time.”

The WSL is targeting a start date of September 5 for the 2020-21 campaign.

12:09PM

Southgate: ‘Maybe things will be better in a year’s time’

Gareth Southgate, the England manager, has said he  expects his side to be in a better position to try and win next summer’s European Championships after the competition was delayed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Euro 2020, which was due to be begin on Tuesday, was moved back 12 months to next summer when Southgate, who had fitness doubts over Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford before the tournament was moved, believes an extra year of preparation for his young players could work in their favour.

11:50AM

Wales Rally GB cancelled

By AFP

The Wales Rally GB has been cancelled due to the global coronavirus pandemic, organisers announced on Tuesday.

This year’s event had been due to take place from October 29 to November 1 as the penultimate round on the 2020 World Rally Championship (WRC) schedule.

Continued concerns over Covid-19 and the current restrictions on large-scale gatherings and international travel prompted the decision.

It is the fifth leg of the championship to be cancelled as a result of the global health crisis.

David Richards, chairman of Rally GB organiser Motorsport UK, said: “This is not a decision that we have taken lightly but, in close consultation with our chief funding partner the Welsh government, it is sadly one we are obliged to make in light of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.

“This is not the appropriate time for us to be planning for and promoting an event that brings tens of thousands of visitors, many from outside the country, into rural Welsh communities.”

The WRC season has been badly disrupted by the virus, with stops in Argentina and Italy postponed in addition to the cancellations.

Three rounds, in Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico, were raced.

The next scheduled race is the Rally of Turkey, in late September.

11:25AM

Mario Balotelli ‘turned away’ from training after being ‘fired’

By AP

Days after reportedly being fired by Brescia, Mario Balotelli was turned away by the club when he arrived for training on Tuesday.

Mario Balotelli

Italian forward Mario Balotelli leaves after being denied to train with his team

Credit:
SHUTTERSTOCK

Balotelli walked up to the gate of Brescia’s training ground and, following a brief conversation with a club employee, he turned around.

As he walked away he said to media, “Now say that I don’t want to train.”

Balotelli was reportedly fired by his hometown club last weekend for failing to report to training as the Italian soccer league prepares to resume three months after being stopped by the coronavirus. The former Italy striker said he had stomach problems.

Italian forward Mario Balotelli arrives at the sports center of Torbole, Brescia, Italy, 09 June 2020. Balotelli was denied to train with his team and reportedly sacked from the club


Credit:
SHUTTERSTOCK

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport said Balotelli sent another doctor’s note on Monday night to the club saying he had recovered, but that it didn’t arrive in time to send to the relevant authority and so he wouldn’t have been insured if he had injured himself in training.

Balotelli signed last August with Brescia, the city where he grew up with his adoptive family, in an emotional homecoming for a player who has jumped back and forth between the Italian, English and French leagues.

He scored five goals in 19 Serie A matches.

10:53AM

Brighton fans can buy cut-outs of themselves to put in the stands

Brighton fans can still “support” their team even if they are not allowed into Premier League games… by paying for cut-outs of themselves to be placed in the stands.

The Premier League season is due to resume on June 17 after a three-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Brighton are following in the steps of Bundesliga clubs, who have populated their grounds with fake fans after matches were forced behind closed doors.

The Seagulls, who are two points above the relegation zone with nine games remaining, return to action against Arsenal on June 20.

“We are asking fans to don their blue and white matchday attire and send in their picture to be part of the remaining five matches of the season to be played at the Amex,” the club said in a statement.

“With the last five games of the 2019/20 season taking place behind closed doors, the club is offering season-ticket holders and MyAlbion+ members the chance to purchase their own personalised cut-out.”

Personalised cut-outs cost £20 each, with part of the profits donated to charity.

The only catch? You can’t “sit” next to family and friends.

“Unfortunately, we won’t be able to place cut-outs in specific seats, nor guarantee cut-outs of family and friends are situated next to each other due to the nature of the project,” the club said.

10:24AM

Brett Lee and Sachin Tendulkar want alternative to saliva on cricket balls

By AFP

Brett Lee and Sachin Tendulkar have stepped up pressure ahead of a key world body meeting on Wednesday for an alternative to saliva to be allowed for shining the cricket ball.

The International Cricket Council is expected to order a temporary ban on using spit for shining as part of measures to get the sport restarted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Fast bowlers make the ball swing in the air by shining one side with saliva or sweat. Sweat would still be allowed, but is considered less effective.

“Maybe there are other ways that ICC needs to look in, assisting the bowler maybe in giving them something,” former Australian pace bowler Lee said on Indian batting great Tendulkar’s 100MB online app.

“Maybe try a new substance that they can potentially use that everyone agrees on, that the batsmen are happy with, that the bowlers are happy with.”

Tendulkar said playing in cold countries will diminish the option of using sweat. “You are not going to sweat,” he said naming New Zealand, Ireland and England.

“When I played for Yorkshire in 1992. I went there in the beginning of May and it was freezing. I can’t forget the game I played in Hove, I had five layers on me.”

Australian ball manufacturer Kookaburra is developing a wax applicator to shine the ball, but the world body is reluctant to allow artificial aids.

Lee, a two-time World Cup winner, said bowlers should be given some leeway by umpires, including getting “two or three warnings” about using saliva before action is taken.

“Because I can guarantee you, if the players are told they can’t do it, they won’t do it on purpose but I think it will happen through that natural instinct.”

10:09AM

Pakistan name coaching staff for tour of England

By PA

Pakistan have given a strong nod to committing to their tour of England by naming their coaching staff.

West Indies landed in England on Tuesday ahead of a reshaped international summer in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pakistan were due to begin a Test series on July 30, and although no there has been no official confirmation of Pakistan’s commitment to tour, naming their staff suggests they intend to travel.

Mushtaq Ahmed, who took 185 Test wickets and also coached England’s spinners, will work for head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and alongside quick bowling coach Waqar Younis.

Pakistan’s most successful Test batsman and former captain Younis Khan will also join the coaching staff.

“I am delighted that someone of the stature and incredible batting record of Younis Khan has agreed to join the Pakistan cricket set-up as national men’s team batting coach,” said Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan.

“When I spoke with him, his commitment and enthusiasm to take up this assignment and serve his country was never in doubt and he jumped at the opportunity.

“Younis’ work ethics, commitment to match preparation, game awareness and tactics in the English conditions will be invaluable.

“Mushtaq knows the English conditions as well as anyone, having spent a lot of time playing county cricket and working with the England cricket team. Apart from guiding the spinners and playing a mentor’s role, Mushtaq can be helpful to Misbah in match planning and preparations.”

8:55AM

Major League Baseball update

By AP

Major League Baseball has made another try to start the coronavirus-delayed season in early July, proposing a 76-game regular season, expanding the playoffs from 10 teams to as many as 16 and allowing players to earn about 75 per cent of their prorated salaries.

Players have refused cuts beyond what they agreed to in March shortly after the pandemic began, part of baseball’s again acrimonious labor relations. The arduous negotiations have jeopardized plans to hold opening day around the Fourth of July in empty ballparks and provide entertainment to a public still emerging from months of quarantine.

MLB’s latest proposal would guarantee 50 per cent of players’ prorated salaries over the regular season, according to details obtained by The Associated Press.

The proposal would eliminate all free-agent compensation for the first time since the free-agent era started in 1976. It also would forgive 20 per cent of the $170 million in salaries already advanced to players during April and May.

There was no immediate response from the union, which is likely to view the plan as a step back because of the large percentage of salaries not guaranteed.

8:03AM

Australia welcomes fans back into stadiums

By Reuters

As Australia moves ahead with relaxing a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, a state government gave the all clear for more than 2,000 fans to attend an Australian Rules Football game at a stadium in Adelaide this weekend.

“Football and crowds are back in South Australia,” Steven Marshall, South Australia’s premier told reporters in the state capital on Tuesday, heralding the match between the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide.

Josh Jackson of the Bulldogs charges forward during the round four NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Bankwest Stadium


Credit:
GETTY IMAGES

Professional sport was allowed to resume in Australia last month after a two-month hiatus, but it will become one of the first nations to admit spectators to stadiums as lockdowns begin to be relaxed in many countries.

Australia has suffered at least 102 Covid-19 deaths and about 7,200 infections, but it has not reported a death for more than a week, and new cases have dwindled to less than 20 daily.

The government has pledged to remove the bulk of social distancing restrictions by the end of July, though some states are moving slower than others.

Last Saturday, thousands of Australians marched in solidarity with U.S. protesters angered by the death of a black man in police custody.

While the lockdown and social distancing measures have slowed the spread of Covid-19, the economy has taken a hit, with data released last week showing it had tipped into recession, but officials tried to strike a positive note.

“Given the improved health outlook for Australia, the impact of Covid-19 on the economy will be smaller,” Steven Kennedy, secretary to Australia’s Treasury department told lawmakers in Canberra.

“However, this will still be the single biggest economic shock Australia has faced in living memory.”

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