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Premier League players face strict new training protocols

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Man city beat Man United

Premier League players are set to be subjected to a strict testing regime if they are to return to training amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to British media reports.

The BBC said Tuesday it had seen a copy of official protocols sent to all 20 Premier League clubs detailing the need for corner-flags, balls, cones, goalposts and even playing surfaces to be disinfected after each training session.

Other measures in the guidance include twice-weekly testing, and a daily pre-training questionnaire and temperature check.

Should a player test positive, with or without symptoms, they will be forced to self-isolate for seven days.

All players will have to travel to a training ground individually and avoid public transport. Once there they will not be allowed to gather in communal areas and won’t be fed on the premises.

Tackling and contact will reportedly be banned for the first phase of team training.

Meanwhile club medical staff must wear personal protection equipment when treating the players.

A meeting involving players, the Professional Footballers’ Association and the British government over safety and health issues surrounding a possible restart of the game is set to take place on Wednesday.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor, said his members would be open to playing again provided “everything that can be done is being done” to assure their safety.

“We’ve got to try it, see if we can do it and see if we can return to some form of activity,” Taylor told the Mirror.

“But it’s also being as careful and having as many assurances as possible that it’s achievable.”

However, England internationals Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose are the two latest high-profile players to raise their concerns over a return to contact sport when the rest of society is being advised to follow social-distancing guidelines.

‘Lives at risk’

“The moment we do go back it just needs to be a moment where it’s not just for footballing reasons, it’s safe for not just us footballers but the whole medical staff, referees,” Sterling told his YouTube channel.

Meanwhile Rose, on loan at Newcastle from Tottenham, told an Instagram live: “People’s lives are at risk.

“Football shouldn’t even be spoken about coming back until the numbers have dropped massively.”

A further complication for Project Restart is where any matches would be played, with the clubs opposed to a proposal for a limited number of neutral venues to be used.

The UK’s national football policing lead previously stated resuming matches on a home-and-away basis would “present challenges” to the emergency services.

But Mark Roberts said on Tuesday that police, government and football authorities were working together on a plan “which minimises any risks to public safety and unnecessary pressure on public services, but facilitates a sensible restart to the season.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has come out against the idea of playing matches in the capital at this stage, with the city having been particularly badly hit by the pandemic.

Five of the 20 Premier League sides are based in London.

“With the country still in the grips of this crisis, and hundreds of people dying every day, he believes that it is too early to be discussing the resumption of the Premier League and top-flight sport in the capital,” Khan’s spokesperson told the Evening Standard.

Premier League clubs face having to pay a huge refund to broadcasters even if they manage to complete the virus-disrupted season behind closed doors.

Broadcasters would be reimbursed for matches not being played as scheduled and the lack of atmosphere in empty stadiums is also a factor.

The BBC reported the bill could be as high as £340 million ($420 million) and would surge to £760 million if the season cannot be completed.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has previously warned of a £1 billion loss once the absence of gate receipts is taken into account.

New government guidelines have paved the way for elite sport to return behind closed doors in England from 1 June.

Britain has been one of the worst hit by the global pandemic, with the UK government officially recording more than 32 000 deaths from Covid-19.

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Siasia rejects five-year ban

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CAS Reduces Siasia’s Life Ban to Five Years

Super Eagles Former Coach, Samson Siasia, does not accept the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) verdict on the match-fixing charge brought against him by world football governing body, FIFA, an associate of the Olympic silver medallist, Waidi Akanni, has said.

In 2019, FIFA banned Siasia from all football related activities for life over an alleged plot to fix matches. In addition, the world body also imposed a CHF 50,000 fine on the former Super Eagles striker.

FIFA based the sanction against Siasia on his liaison with Wilson Raj Perumal, a convicted match-fixer from Singapore. FIFA said it tried to contact Siasia via email, adding, however, that the coach never replied any of its messages.

FIFA had said in 2019 that Siasia was ‘guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics’ and also fined 50,000 Swiss francs ($54,000).’

Shocked by FIFA’s judgment, Siasia ran to CAS to seek justice. CAS earlier scheduled hearing on the case on March 19, 2020, but later postponed it severally owing to the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus and the travel restrictions that came with the virus.

The world adjudicatory body recently held the session virtually, giving Siasia the chance to answer to the charges.

In its verdict yesterday, CAS said the imposition of a life ban was ‘disproportionate for a first offence which was committed passively and which had not had an adverse or immediate effect on football stakeholders.’

“The panel acknowledged the need for sanctions to be sufficiently high enough to eradicate bribery and especially match fixing in football,” CAS said.

“However, the panel considered in the particular circumstances of this matter that it would be inappropriate and excessive to impose a financial sanction in addition to the five-year ban since the ban sanction already incorporated a financial punishment in eliminating football as a source of revenue for Mr. Siasia.”

But, according to Akanni, Siasia is shocked that CAS could still punish him for ‘an offence he did not commit.’

Akanni queried the wisdom in the judgment, saying a guilty verdict cannot be based on ‘passive crime.’

He said: “I am not a lawyer, but CAS showed from its statements that it has no evidence to prove that Siasia accepted to fix games.

“What is the meaning of passive crime? Who are the players he recruited to want to rig games. The guy wanted to give him a job and nothing else. The fight is still on.

“Siasia will eventually release the emails he exchanged with Perumal. There was no collateral damage to anybody. If they had any evidence they should release it to the world.”

Akanni said that Siasia didn’t know of the judgment until he called to inform him, adding, “unfortunately, Samson doesn’t read his emails.

“I am shocked that after paying all the money, this is the judgment he gets. They had a zoom meeting with CAS and he stated everything that transpired between him and Perumal. They know that if they freed him, he would sue them for disrupting his life unjustly for two years. The battle is still on.”

Akanni called on Nigerians to rally round Siasia.

“Why should they reduce a life ban to five years if they had any evidence he committed any crime.”

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Rafa Benitez edges closer to Everton job despite fans backlash

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Rafa Benitez has held further discussions with Everton’s owners, to take an important step closer to the manager’s job.

We understand secret talks were held at the weekend, with the former Liverpool manager’s representatives thrashing out the finer details of a deal which now looks set to be confirmed in the coming days.

A backlash from fans last week – with thousands making clear their anger at the prospective appointment – seemed to have dampened the enthusiasm of majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and his backers.

But that did not stall talks completely, and the Benitez camp remain confident that the Everton hierarchy will confirm a contract after several positive meetings.

Moshiri was said to be ‘nervous’ about the reaction of Blues supporters, with several banners placed outside Goodison Park sending uncompromising messages bluntly stating that the Spanish coach was not welcome.

But it seems only a full fan revolt can not stop an appointment which would prove hugely divisive at a club that has endured a catalogue of troubles since Moshiri arrived as owner.

His successor to Carlo Ancelotti – who walked out for Real Madrid after less than 18 months in charge – will be his sixth in five years, and several of his appointments were greeted with hostility by fans.

Sam Allardyce had his contract paid up after less than six months because the fanbase refused to accept him and style of football at the club.

Benitez has provoked a similar response, but Moshiri has allies in the likes of influential club sponsor Alisher Usmanov, which has given him the confidence to continue talks with a manager who is still so closely associated with the Blues’ biggest rivals.

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Real Madrid reject Man Utd’s Paul Pogba ‘straight swap’ transfer proposal

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Real Madrid are reportedly set to reject an offer from Manchester United for Raphael Varane that will include a swap for Paul Pogba.

Varane is a top target for the Red Devils this summer, who are looking to provide Harry Maguire with a world-class partner at centre-back.

Four-time Champions League winner and World Cup champion Varane is expected to cost around £80m.

But with just one year left to run on his contract, United are hoping that they can strike up a deal worth considerably less.

Reports in Spain suggest the Red Devils are keen to pay no more than £35m to keep enough funds to secure a deal for Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.

Now though, the Old Trafford board are said to be favouring a swap deal for Varane, with Pogba heading the other way.

Pogba, Varane’s international team-mate with France, has been strongly linked with a move to Real in recent years, even describing it as him “dream” in 2020.

AS claim that United are ready to offer the La Liga side a straight swap – Pogba for Varane.

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