World Sports News in Brief

Football: Italian football unites to raise millions for health system

Saturday, 2020-03-21 08:29:25
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Italian football club AS Roma delivered 8,000 pairs of protective gloves and 2,000 bottles of hand sanitiser to churches around the capital, where they will be redistributed to those most in need. (Photo: AS Roma)
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Italian soccer clubs, players and fans have banded together to raise millions of euros to support the country’s stretched health system amid the devastating coronavirus outbreak.

In Italy’s top soccer league, Serie A, the number of cases among professional footballers rose to 13 when Juventus’ French midfielder Blaise Matuidi and Hellas Verona player Mattia Zaccagni tested positive. But a series of campaigns by clubs, players and owners has helped fight back against a crisis that is being felt at every level of Italian society.

* Mason Jones knocked out Joe McColgan to be crowned Cage Warriors lightweight champion on Friday and with the coronavirus sweeping the globe, it may be some time before another title fight takes place in this or any other MMA promotion. Paddy Pimblett also cemented his status as a top contender in the division with a dominant win over Decky Dalton in front of empty stands at Manchester's BEC Arena.

* The US National Women's Soccer League is extending its training moratorium and delaying the Apr 18 start of its regular season to follow guidelines released by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the nine-team professional league said on Friday. The US league said the training moratorium was extended through Apr 5 and no date had been set for the beginning of the season.

* Italy's Vincenzo Nibali has been advised to keep his weight down so he can ride full steam ahead when racing resumes, but the former Tour de France champion knows it will be hard to follow his coach's recommendations amid the coronavirus outbreak.

* Athletes should be given the chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics right until the Games begin on July 24 due to the disruption caused to the sporting calendar by the coronavirus pandemic, Olympic committees in Latin America said. The International Olympic Committee said 57% of 11,000 athletes have secured their Olympic spots for the 33-sport extravaganza.

* The President of the Italian Players’ Union believes it would be nonsensical and dangerous for soccer teams to resume training next week as Italy battles with a devastating coronavirus outbreak. All sport has been suspended since Mar 9 and a nationwide lockdown enforced, as the country attempts to stem the spread of the virus.

* World Rugby has postponed several tournaments and World Cup qualifiers due to the coronavirus outbreak, while June's Olympic qualifiers are under review, the governing body said on Friday. Men's and women's World Cup regional qualifying events, Sevens Series tournaments in London and Paris, the women's Sevens Series tournament in Langford and the final men's Sevens Challenger Series event have been postponed.

* The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee said its athletes should continue to prepare for competition while taking appropriate precautions amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has cast doubt on whether the Tokyo Games could go forward.

* The 2020 European Aquatics Championships that was scheduled to take place from May 11-24 in Budapest, Hungary, has been postponed to August due to the coronavirus outbreak, Europe's aquatics governing body said on Friday. The event has been tentatively postponed to Aug. 17-30 - a week after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are set to conclude.

* The last five tournaments in the qualification period for the Tokyo Olympics have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Badminton World Federation said on Friday. The All England Open, played from March 11-15, was the final event to count towards Olympic qualification, with rankings at the end of April deciding which players will be at the Tokyo Games.

* The World Snooker Championship in Sheffield became the latest staple of the British sporting diet to be postponed on Friday because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 17-day season-ending showpiece, scheduled for April 18 to May 4 at the Crucible Theatre, will be re-arranged for July or August, according to the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association.

* Formula One drivers will join video gamers in a series of virtual grands prix to replace races postponed by the coronavirus outbreak, the sport announced on Friday. The first, run on the official F1 2019 PC video game, will be held from 2000GMT on Sunday when fans should have been tuning in on television to the Bahrain Grand Prix.

* England's Rugby Football Union (RFU) on Friday confirmed the end of the 2019-20 season for all league, cup and county rugby in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic but the Premiership has been excluded. The RFU earlier this week suspended all rugby activity until April 14 while the Premiership halted the season for five weeks after the British government advised against mass gatherings that required the presence of emergency workers.

* Cycling's Tour of Slovenia has been cancelled due to coronavirus fears, organisers said on Friday.

* The 2020 Super Rugby season will stay alive in Australia with a domestic competition model and matches held at empty stadiums amid the coronavirus pandemic, Rugby Australia said on Friday.