World Sports News in Brief

La Liga chief confirms clubs will resume group training from Monday

Monday, 2020-05-18 09:38:04
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La Liga Santander - FC Barcelona v Real Betis - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - November 11, 2018 The match ball on display before the match. (Photo: Reuters)
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Spanish soccer has edged closer to returning after a long pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic after La Liga president Javier Tebas confirmed clubs in the top two divisions will begin training in groups of up to 10 players from Monday.

The return to group training follows a government announcement on Saturday allowing sports teams to return to activity regardless of the status of the lockdown in their own region.

* Kevin Harvick and NASCAR both celebrated victories on Sunday as the stock car series returned to live racing from a two-month novel coronavirus forced hiatus at an empty Darlington Raceway. Harvick, winner of the 2007 Daytona 500, produced a masterful drive to pull away after a late restart to cross 2.15 seconds clear of Alex Bowman and Kurt Busch to collect his 50th career Cup win.

* US President Donald Trump praised the return of live golf on Sunday, dialling into a televised broadcast of a two-on-two charity skins match between top players on the PGA Tour, the first event of its kind since the coronavirus lockdown. World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is from Northern Ireland, teamed up with Dustin Johnson of the United States to take on American duo Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff for the highly anticipated event, one of the few live pro sports competitions on a calendar otherwise upended by the deadly COVID-19 outbreak.

* The start of full training at Italy's professional football clubs has been postponed from Monday as they continue to wrangle over the government's medical rules for dealing with the coronavirus. The Gazzetta dello Sport, state broadcaster Rai and other media all said that the government's technical-scientific committee had not ratified the rules which were announced last week but then questioned by the Serie A clubs and the Italian Football Federation.

* Champions Bayern Munich scored a goal late in each half to beat promoted Union Berlin 2-0 on their return to the Bundesliga on Sunday after more than two months out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and protect their four-point lead at the top. They are now on 58 points, with Borussia Dortmund in second place on 54 following their 4-0 demolition of Schalke 04 on Saturday. There are eight matchdays left in the season.

* Cologne squandered a two-goal lead and had to sweat to rescue a point in their 2-2 draw with visitors Mainz 05 on Sunday in their first Bundesliga game back after a two-month suspension due to the COVID-19 virus. Cologne remained 10th in the standings on 33 points while Mainz moved four points above the relegation playoff spot.

* Hundreds of skiers hit the slopes at Slovenia's highest ski resort on Sunday after it reopened following a coronavirus lockdown that lasted nearly two months. Slovenia became the first European country on Thursday to declare an official end to its coronavirus epidemic.

* The Premier League hopes "Project Restart" will move a step closer to becoming reality on Monday when clubs hold an emergency meeting to vote on a return to group training amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Should at least 14 of the 20 clubs agree that safety protocols are sufficient, players are likely to return to a limited first phase of group training on Tuesday.

* Horse racing will return to Ireland behind closed doors next month with the Irish 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas to be staged at the Curragh on June 12-13. The first Irish race since the coronavirus shutdown of world sport will be on the flat at Punchestown on June 8.

* UEFA has a plan to finish the 2019-20 season by August, including the Champions League and Europa League campaigns, the European soccer governing body's president Aleksander Ceferin has said. The majority of European league seasons were suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic but a few leagues have announced plans for a restart in the coming weeks.

* Park Hyun-kyung won the KLPGA Championship title on Sunday as women's golf in the Republic of Korea joined the country's professional baseball and soccer leagues to restart amid the coronavirus pandemic. Park signed off with a second successive round of 67 to erase a three-shot deficit and triumph by one stroke in the tour's first event since December. Overnight leader Lim Hee-jeong (71) and Bae Seon-woo (68) shared second place at 16-under 272 in the event played without spectators at the Lakewood Country Club in Yangju.

Reuters