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Football leagues slowly stall in time of COVID-19

Argentine, Dutch leagues cancelled, heavy losses expected across major European leagues

The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is continuing to put football through a tough time, with football leagues being cancelled and the sport suffering the economic side effects.

The President of the Argentine Football Association, Claudio Fabian Tapia, announced that the rest of the Argentine League’s season has now been cancelled due to the coronavirus oubtreak.  This comes as a major blow as the Argentine League is one of the strongest leagues in South America and boasts some of the most successful clubs on the continent. The decision came just three days after the cancelation of the Dutch League for the same reason.

The cancellation of the Argentine league

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) announced the cancellation of all its competitions this season, including the Argentine League, due to the worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

“All competitions are over, and the Executive Committee has approved this decision, which was conducted by conference call,” Tapia told TNT Sports Channels Network. “We will only return to the stadium when the health authorities give us the green light. In short, we will only play when the time comes.”

Boca Juniors named champion

Boca Juniors were crowned champions of the short-lived league in March, while Diego Maradona’s Club de Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata finished 19th out of 24 teams.

The AFA has already determined which teams have qualified for the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana 2021 matches by calculating the points of each team in the two championships, to determine the finalists.

Argentine newspaper, Olé, reported that the relegation was postponed for two seasons, but two teams from the second section will move to the second division. The competition next season includes 26 teams.

Boca Juniors, Club Atlético River Plate, Racing Club de Avellaneda, and Argentinos Juniors will qualify for the Libertadores Cup next season, while six teams have qualified for the Copa Sudamericana 2021 tournament. These include Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield, San Lorenzo de Almagro, Newell’s Old Boys, Talleres de Remedios de Escalad, Defensa y Justicia, and Club Atlético Lanús.

Dutch League comes to an end

The Dutch Football Association announced that the current 2019/2020 football season will be cancelled following the virus outbreak, with only eight rounds of matches left to play.

This came after clubs formally agreed to end the current season without champion being named, as although Ajax led on goal difference, they were table leaders with AZ Alkmaar based on equal points.

Local media reported that it had also been agreed that this year’s results would be voided to avoid relegating any clubs.

European clubs fight againt heavy losses

Jaume Roures, the chief executive of Mediapro, has said that the current season cannot be cancelled due to the potentially disastrous consequences for European football.

“It is unreasonable for this season not to be played until the end … The most important thing is to end the season, it is not important to know when the new season will start,” he said on Radio Catalunya. “If this season does not naturally end and all matches are complete, 30% of revenue will be lost, and European football will lose more than €7bn.”

On the plan for the return of the matches, he said, “If all goes well, competitions will resume in mid-June, even if there are matches every three days.”

Blatter suggests World Cup 2022 moves to US

With Qatar facing new corruption accusations on its bid to organise the 2022 World Cup, former FIFA President Joseph Blatter nominated the US as alterantive hosts for the competition.

Blatter was accused, in conjunction with Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, of tampering with the vote for the World Cup. His recent remarks came against the background of corruption cases involving Qatar and former officials of the International Federation for the World Cup 2022 file.

Leaked documents obtained by the British Sunday Times revealed last March that Qatar paid “millions” in bribes to the FIFA, in order to obtain the World Cup hosting.

The Financial Public Prosecution in France had also opened an investigation on “private corruption”, “criminal conspiracy” and “exploitation of influence” on granting Qatar the right to host the World Cup 2022.

The US Federal Public Prosecutor accused former FIFA officials, including Blatter, of taking bribes to vote for Russia and Qatar to win the rights to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup.

Qatar is to host the World Cup in December 2022, the first time that the world championships will not take place during the June-July period.

Blatter told German magazine Bild that in the midst of these new accusations about the Qatar 2022 file, he sees that Germany is able to host the World Cup. This means that the World Cup will, for the second time in a row, be held in Europe, which he would not prefer.

“The United States will be the right choice, as America can host the 2022 World Cup instead of the 2026 World Cup, which is not complicated,” Blatter said, “Likewise, Japan can host the tournament, as it has applied to host the 2022 World Cup.”

The US, Mexico, and Canada will host the 2026 World Cup, with 48 teams set to take part.

The former FIFA president concluded his speech by saying, “Fortunately for the World Cup 2022, there will be 32 teams, not 48, and this means that the effort to organise the tournament will be similar to what Russia did in the last World Cup.”

The decision taken in December 2010 to grant Qatar the right to host the World Cup surprised many due to the lack of a large fan base, in addition to the high summer temperatures.

Liverpool, Madrid fight over Mbappé

English premier league team, Liverpool, has sparked a conflict with Spain’s Real Madrid to sign young French striker Kylian Mbappé, currently with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), during the next transfer window.

French media reported that Liverpool’s German coach, Juergen Klopp, is in talks with the star’s father to discuss the possibility of signing PSG’s top scorer in the coming period.

According to French website, Le10sport, the Reds coach is seeking Mbappé’s services, especially as Klopp sees the young star as the perfect alternative to Senegalese star Sadio Mane, if he leaves the team.

The French report added that the Liverpool coach has been impressed by Mbappé’s great skill and speeds, which is appropriate for the English Premier League. The report indicated that Real Madrid is considered in the stronger position, especially in light of the player’s desire to wear the royal club shirt.

It is worth noting that 21-year-old Mbappé has a contract with PSG which is set to run until the summer of 2022.

PSG threatens to freeze Mbappé

Spanish press reports on Twitter revealed that the relationship between Mbappé and Paris Saint-Germain is tense. This follows the player having learned of the administration’s intention to freeze him if he insisted on refusing to renew his contract ending in 2022 to leave for Real Madrid.

Spanish newspaper AS said the club’s administration is willing to freeze him for a whole season if the contract is not renewed, as it fears it will lose the world’s most valuable player.

The newspaper pointed out that Mbappé’s relationship with PSG hangs by a fine thread, especially as the player has dreamed of wearing the Real Madrid shirt. He had been close to achieving this in 2017, after which the made two attempts to transfer to the royal team, but the French team persuaded him to stay.

According to global network ESPN, PSG’s management have put an extension on Mbappé’s contract as a priority for the coming period.

ESPN added that the Parisian club’s officials are seeking to take advantage of the difficult economic situation that European clubs are currently facing, to persuade the young striker to stay with the team for a longer period.

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