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Bala Devi Returns to Action for Rangers FC; Jordan Pickford to Face No Action Over Virgil Van Dijk Challenge and More (Football Round-Up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): Bala Devi returns to footballing action for Rangers FC in Scotland | Jordan Pickford challenge on Virgil Van Dijk will not bring retrospective punishment | Champions League 'final eight' mini-tournament may return from 2024 | Wayne Rooney returns negative COVID-19 test but will miss games for Derby | Newcastle United fans' pay-per-view protest raises £20,000 for food bank.
Bala Devi Rangers FC

Bala Devi, who stayed back in Glasgow after the Covid-19 lockdown, was training for about two months.

Bala Devi, Indian women’s national football team star, returned to action for Rangers FC as the Scottish Women’s Premier League (SWPL) resumed games after months due to Covid-19. 

The SWPL resumed on October 18 and Ranger FC won 5-1 against Heart of Midlothian F.C. Bala Devi entered the match as a second-half substitute 

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"It was really good to be back on the football pitch once again. Being away from the pitch for so many months is not a good feeling. But all those months of hard work paid off, and we have now started off with a win but this is only the start of a long season ahead," the official website of All India Football Federation (AIFF) quoted Bala Devi as saying.

Bala, who stayed back in Glasgow after the Covid-19 lockdown, was training for about two months. 

“I have been training with the team for about a couple of months now, and hopefully we will be physically ready to go once the league starts. Of course, our team gave us our fitness programmes, which was optional for us to follow when the pandemic struck. But I made it a point to follow the training modules given to me," said Bala.

“The first month I was feeling quite lonely because all the other players went home as they were from nearby areas -- or at least from somewhere in the UK or the neighbouring countries. It was just a few others and myself that actually stayed back," said Bala. "But I kept in touch with everyone and that helped. The coaches also took good care of me. They even took me out shopping once the lockdown was over. These are very small things in the larger scheme of things, but they do help lighten your spirits.” 

Pickford to Face No Action 

There will be no retrospective action taken against Jordan Pickford following his challenge on Virgil Van Dijk during the Merseyside derby, which was held last Saturday. 

After reviewing the incident on the VAR, it was concluded that Liverpool will not be handed a penalty as Van Dijk was in an offside position and it was also decided that pickford did not deserve the red card.The FA awards retrospective punishment for incidents which are not seen by the match officials on the pitch or at VAR headquarters. 

Van Dijk, who was substituted after the incident, suffered a anterior cruciate ligament damage, and will undergo knee surgery. The manager of Liverpool Jurgen Klopp stated that it is not confirmed when the defender will make his return. 

"That's all not sorted yet," he told Liverpool's club website after being asked when Van Dijk will be undergoing the operation. "A few things are clear, so he now will be out for a while, that's clear. We don't want to set any timeframe because each player is different and each individual is different and these possible timeframes are always for the x, y, z player but Virgil is Virgil and we don't want to set any timeframe.” 

"But he will be out for a pretty long time and that's what the situation is. I expected it pretty much on Saturday after the game immediately, especially when I saw the challenge back. I saw it the first time only from the bench, and when I saw it back I was pretty clear that he will be out for a long time,” he said. 

Champions League Mini Tournament

UEFA stated that the ‘final eight’ mini tournament, which was used to conclude the season this summer in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, may return in 2024. 

The final eight was used to conclude the Champions League and Europa League last season in a period of two week in August. According to the deputy general secretary of UEFA, Giorgio Marchetti, this tournament format could be used again. 

“A good rule is to never exclude something which proves valuable or has potential. We know there are many elements that need to be taken into account, such as calendar and organisational constraints, fans’ involvement, economic implications, but we will for sure study this format and its variations for our upcoming discussions, said Marchetti.

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 “Single knockout matches obviously favour uncertainty and emotions. We received great feedback from clubs, broadcasters and other partners as well as from the fans. The circumstances made this format a must, but the result could not be better as well as the degree of satisfaction,” he added. 

“The football community really worked together: without the joint work and unity of intents with national associations, leagues and clubs nothing would have been achieved,” he said. “And as we had only two months to set up simultaneous tournaments in Portugal, Germany and Spain, the local federations and authorities supported us massively.”

Rooney Returns Negative

Derby County forward Wayne Rooney said he’s tested negative for Covid-19 but is going to be in self isolations for the next 10 days after he came into contact with a friend who tested positive.

Derby said that he was “angry and disappointed” with the friend who paid him a visit despite being asked to get a Covid-19 test and later tested positive for the same.

"Just received the news that my COVID-19 test has shown I do not have the virus," Rooney wrote on Twitter.

“Delighted for myself and family but obviously angry and disappointed that I now have to self-isolate and miss vital games for @dcfcofficial (Derby).”

Derby confirmed Rooney is under self isolation till October  29, adhering to the UK government and English Football League guidelines.

This also means that Rooney will miss Derby games at Huddersfield Town on Tuesday and Nottingham Forest on Friday plus the home game with Cardiff City on October 28.

Newcastle Fans' PPV protest

Newcastle fans donated a total of £20,000 to charity in order to protest against the Premier League's pay-per-view (PPV) scheme.

Manchester United vs Magpie in which Magpies lost 4-1 was one of the only Premier League games available live in the UK for a £14.95 fee.

The 'Charity Not PPV' campaign took the initiative to collect funds for the West End food bank rather than pay to watch.

West End food bank's chief executive John McCorry said, "it will make a great difference. We appreciate the generosity of the Newcastle fans.

"We are feeding 1,000 people a week and use 10-plus tonnes of food every month, which costs £1,700 a tonne, so these donations are really needed.

"We have had donations from London, Spain and America, so it's not just locally that the interest has gathered. It really seems to have taken off."

In October, the five Premier League fixtures per round will be available in the UK as pay-per-view on BT Sport Box Office or Sky Sports Box Office.

Clubs have called the decision an "interim solution" with still not able to see live matches in the stadiums because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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