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No Masks, No Spit! New Rules For Matches As EPL Resumes On Wednesday

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Players and coaching staff will not be required to wear masks at stadiums when the Premier League restarts.

Players will be encouraged not to spit or clear their noses and not to break social distancing during goal celebrations.

There will be no ball boys or girls – a system of sterilized replacement balls will be used.

Aston Villa v Sheffield United will be the first game when the league returns on 17 June.

In Germany’s Bundesliga players and staff have been required to wear masks at all times, except for during play.

In the Premier League, they will not have to wear masks at all, even in the changing room or on the bench, although the fourth official as well as doctors and physios will have to.

On Thursday the Premier League announced there will be a minute’s silence to remember those who have died with coronavirus before the first matches.

Heart-shaped badges in tribute to frontline NHS staff will also be worn on kits.

Clubs agreed to a range of medical and operational protocols for the restart of the season at a meeting on Thursday.

There will be strict limits on those allowed into stadiums on matchdays and grounds will be split into zones, including the tunnel and pitchside.

In total only 300 people will be in each stadium, with no more than 110 in the ‘red zone’ including players, club staff, and officials.

There will be the deep cleaning of corner flags, goalposts, substitution boards, and match balls before and after each fixture.

Some extra disinfection, such as of the substitution board after it is used, is likely to take place during matches and at half-time, while other work will be carried out during drinks breaks if they are permitted by the league.

The medical protocols stipulate how squads and coaching staff must travel to and from games, observing social distancing.

Clubs will be encouraged to fly on long away trips to limit the use of hotels, and every player and coach will be temperature checked before they arrive at the stadium.

Players will have to hand sanitize when they enter and leave the field of play.

Meanwhile, players are working with the Premier League on a Black Lives Matter tribute but details are yet to be finalized.

Options discussed by players this week included taking a knee, a Black Lives Matter logo on shirts, and players’ names being replaced by the phrase Black Lives Matter.

The Premier League has been suspended since 13 March because of the pandemic.

The fixture schedule for the first three rounds was confirmed on Friday, with 33 of the remaining 92 matches to be shown on free-to-air platforms.

The league will resume on Wednesday when Aston Villa host Sheffield United at 18:00 BST, with Manchester City v Arsenal at 20:15.

Teams returned to contact training at the end of May. In the latest round of testing at Premier League clubs, one person tested positive for COVID-19.

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BREAKING: Man United Legend Wayne Rooney Appointed Derby Coach

Peter Okunoren

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Wayne Rooney has been appointed as Derby’s coach on a permanent basis, the Championship club announced on Friday.

Derby County confirmed the 35-year-old former Manchester United and England forward had agreed to a permanent deal until 2023, having succeeded Phillip Cocu on an interim basis in November.

The club statement confirmed that in accepting the manager’s role, Rooney had “elected to call time on his illustrious playing career to fully focus on his job”.

Details later…

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Anthony Joshua Reveals Retirement Date

Peter Okunoren

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Anthony Joshua admits he is “coming towards the end of my career” and has hinted that he will have a maximum of “five years left” in the sport before retiring.

The 31-year-old world heavyweight champion could be approaching the most significant period of his career, with ongoing negotiations about two massive unification fights against Tyson Fury in 2021.

Since making his pro debut in 2013, Joshua has become a two-time champion, having regained his WBA, IBF, and WBO titles in a 2019 rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr before defending them with a knockout win over Kubrat Pulev last month.

“This isn’t the start of my career. I’m coming towards the end of my career,” Joshua told Sky Sports News.

“I’m not someone who lives in the moment and thinks that everything is just like for now. I’m always planning ahead so I’m coming towards the end of my career.

“Five years left and that’s basically an Olympic cycle. I’ve got an Olympic cycle and a little bit more left, so when you see the next Olympics happen is when I’ll be coming to the end of my career and the next generation will be coming through.”

Fury turned professional in 2008, nearly five years before Joshua, who recently suggested that his British rival should also be thinking about hanging up his gloves.

“Fury has been professional much longer than me. He should be looking to retire soon,” Joshua had told Sky Sports.

“If he wants to cement his legacy, I’m here and ready. I’ve built myself into this position.”

But the 32-year-old Fury told Sky Sports last year that he wanted a lengthy world title reign like Wladimir Klitschko.

“Klitschko did it until he was 40,” said Fury who ended the Ukrainian’s dominance with a points win in 2015.

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Ex-Italy Defender Bellugi’s Legs Amputated After COVID-19 Complications

Peter Okunoren

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Former Italy and Inter Milan defender Mauro Bellugi revealed on Tuesday that both his legs had been amputated following coronavirus complications.

Bellugi, 70, was hospitalized on November 4 after contracting Covid-19, with doctors forced to carry out a double amputation following a worsening of pre-existing conditions.

“They also took off my leg with which I scored against Borussia Moenchengladbach,” said Bellugi of a goal scored for Inter in the European Cup in November 1971.

Bellugi, who also played for Bologna and Napoli during the 1960s and 1970s, went on to become a football pundit.

“I will wear prostheses like those of (Oscar) Pistorius, so I will overtake you in the corridors of the television studios,” he told journalist Luca Serafini on altropensiero.net.

Bellugi won the Serie A title with Inter in 1971 and also played for Italy in the World Cup of 1974 and 1978.

AFP

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