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Aridane Santana Scores As Hyderabad FC Beat Odisha FC in ISL; England to Allow 4,000 Fans at Stadiums in Low-Risk Areas Post Lockdown (Football Round-up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): Aridane Santana scored from a spot-kick in the 35th minute as Hyderabad FC beat Odisha FC 1-0 in their Indian Super League (ISL) opening match | England to allow 4,000 fans at elite outdoor events in Covid-19 low risk areas | Players need more protection, says FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman after resting Lionel Messi for the UEFA Champions League match against Dynamo Kyiv | Tottenham Hotspur confirm losses of 63.9 million pounds as the pandemic dents the Premier League club’s revenue | Arsenal FC and Leeds United condemn online abuse of players Nicolas Pepe and Ezgjan Alioski.
Hyderabad FC players celebrate vs Odisha FC in ISL

Hyderabad FC players celebrate their victory over Odisha FC in their Indian Super League (ISL) on Monday (Pic: Hyderabad FC twitter).

Four matches into the season, we are yet to see an Indian score a goal in the Indian Super League (ISL). But that’s par for the course. The league must go on for it serves as a platform to help Indian talent blossom. And blossoming happens with time. Patience! 

In the meantime, debutant Aridane Santana scored from the penalty spot as Hyderabad FC began their Indian Super League (ISL) campaign with a solitary goal victory over Odisha FC on Monday. 

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The Hyderabad management lost a golden opportunity to get an Indian off the scoring duck, by giving him the chance to take the penalty kick. Probably there wasn’t any that the coach -- Manuel Marquez Roca -- trusted enough with the responsibility. Patience is needed to build footballing depth, and the key seems to be is to get foreigners to come and play, score, win matches, with a few Indians running around them on the pitch, making the statistics column one way or the other.

Talking about statistics, the Spaniard’s spot kick conversion in the 35th minute earned Hyderabad three points and their first-ever clean sheet in the league. It took them a full season and one match to manage that. 

After constantly probing into the Odisha box right from the start, Hyderabad got their reward in the form of a penalty, earned by Santana himself. The Spaniard passed to Halicharan Narzary who was clear on goal. However, his effort was hand-balled by Odisha skipper Steven Taylor. Santana stepped up and coveted with composure.

England to Allow Fans From December

England will set up a tier system for regions based on their Covid-19 risk post the end of the second lockdown on December 2. And in tier-1 regions, which are areas with lowest pandemic risk and numbers, 4,000 fans would be allowed into stadiums for elite sporting events staged in the open.  

As per the new directives, announced via a statement by Britain’s Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, 2,000 fans or 50% of a stadium’s capacity -- whichever is lower -- can attend sporting events in Tier 2 areas but none would be allowed in Tier 3, 

“I can confirm the national restrictions will end on December 2 ... People can leave their home, subject to the rule of six,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement to the House of Commons. “Wedding services, outdoor sports can resume. Leisure can resume. Sports will be able to resume inside in tier one and two with measures on social distancing.

“Enforcement will be strengthened with new powers to close down premises that pose a risk to public health,” he added.

Matches of the English Premier League (EPL) have been held behind closed doors with supporters not allowed into sporting venues since the first lockdown in March, barring a few exceptions.

Members of Parliament will cast a vote before confirmation and announcement by the government on Thursday demarcating the areas and their tier.

Meaning, Indoor sport and physical activity will resume but with some restrictions on activities due to the higher transmission risk. Grassroots sport will resume as well along with gyms and leisure centres across all tiers.

Koeman Rests Messi for Kyiv Match

FC Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has lashed out at the packed European calendar and the strain that has put on players while announcing the exclusion of Lionel Messi from the roster for the UEFA Champions League match against Dynamo Kyiv this week.

Koeman has reasons to be upset. Barcelona lost Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto to serious injuries during Saturday’s 0-1 defeat by Atletico Madrid in La Liga. The Catalans have just three defenders in the first team squad against the Ukranian side. 

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The loss to Atletico has made it officially the worst start for Barcelona in the La Liga in 29 years. The Spanish side is, however, doing great in Europe with a three-out-of-three win record in Group G. A win against Kyiv will seal their spot in the last 16. 

The commanding position might have made it easier for Koeman to rest Messi as well as and Dutch midfielder Frenkie De Jong. 

“Sometimes you need to protect the players because the game calendar is incredible,” Koeman said. “We thought it was a good moment to rest Leo and Frenkie as most of our players have played every minute with us and then they played with the national teams and Messi had a difficult trip back from South America (after playing for Argentina).”

Spurs Confirm 63.9 Million Revenue Loss

Tottenham Hotspur might be sitting pretty atop the Premier League standings and we might indeed see a Jose Mourinho side winning the title this season. But financially, the club is struggling. The Spurs suffered a net loss of 63.9 million pounds ($85.45 million) in the last financial year as COVID-19 disrupted schedules, the club confirmed on Monday. Revenue took a big hit as the games were played in empty stadiums.

Spurs said that revenue for the year which ended on June 30 was 402.4 million pounds. In the previous year, the net revenue was 460.7 million pounds.

Television and media revenue also decreased from 149.9 million pounds last year to 95.2 million pounds this year while the club’s net debt rose from 534.3 million pounds to 604.6 million pounds.

“We are currently in the midst of one of the most challenging times ever experienced,” club chairman Daniel Levy said. “The impact of the pandemic on our revenue is material and could not have come at a worse time, having just completed a 1.2 billion pounds stadium build which is financed by club resources and long-term debt.”

Levy added that Spurs face losses above 150 million pounds next year if fans are not allowed back into stadiums. And that depends on the tier in which White Hart Lane falls under. Then again, one is not sure whether the presence of 4,000 fans would make much of a difference in the dent. Something is better than nothing, for sure. Of course a victorious campaign this season might see some respite via better sponsorship and TV deals.

Arsenal, Leeds Condemn Abuse of Pepe, Alioski

Oneline abuse of footballers has once again reared its ugly head, this time targetting Arsenal and Leeds United players. The clubs condemned abuse aimed at Nicolas Pepe and Ezgjan Alioski on social media following their goalless draw in the Premier League on Sunday.

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Arsenal winger Pepe was sent off after it was found that he had head-butted Leeds defender Alioski. Referee Anthony Taylor checked with VAR before sending Pepe off.

The two players were subjected to racial abuse from rival supporters after the game.

“We utterly condemn the vile abuse directed at Nicolas Pepe and Ezgjan Alioski on social media following our match against Leeds United,” Arsenal said in a statement.

“This is completely unacceptable and we will be working with the police and authorities to do everything we can to trace and prosecute the culprits.”

Leeds released a similar statement, saying they would not tolerate such abuse.

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