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FC Cologne Covid-19 Cases Raise Safety Concerns; Dejan Lovren Calls Coronavirus a Psychological Battle and More (Football News Round-up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): FC Cologne Covid-19 cases raise safety concerns around Bundesliga restart | Dejan Lovren calls coronavirus situation a psychological battle | Roberto Martinez to coach Belgium until the 2022 FIFA World Cup | Premier League meeting: clubs want to complete the season | Hyderabad FC extends Abhishek Halder and Dimple Bhagat’s contracts
Three at Bundesliga club FC Cologne tests positive for Covid-19

(Representative image) While FC Cologne has not given out the names, reports suggest that two players and a staff have tested positive for Covid-19 at the Budesliga club (Pic: MyKhel, Twitter).

Three Covid-19 cases at  FC Cologne has raised concerns over the plans to restart the Bundesliga season. The league tried to convince the government that the season should start again in May since the number of infections were going down. Amidst these talks, three tested positive for the coronavirus at Cologne, who confirmed that all the three cases were asymptomatic and the infected persons were placed in a 14-day quarantine. The club, however, did not reveal any names.

“Likely two players, one staffer infected,” wrote Karl Lauterbach, senior lawmaker with the Social Democrats, junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition, on Twitter on Saturday.

“The rest (of the squad) continue to train. Whoever trains with COVID-19 risks damage to lung, heart and kidneys,” added Lauterbach, who is a professor of health economics and epidemiology.

“I am surprised that players are allowing this,” he said in reference to Cologne’s training continuing with the rest of the squad instead of them all being quarantined as a precaution.

“Football should be a model example and not ‘bread and games’,” he said.

A Psychological Battle: Lovren

Dejan Lovren of Liverpool

Liverpool FC defender Dejan Lovren 

Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren said it is a mental battle to stay focused on the Premier League amidst the Covid-19 crisis. This, despite all efforts to maintain physical fitness.

“It hasn’t been easy as we have been locked up in our homes for 46 days now,” the Croatia international told Sportske Novosti. “The psychological aspect is the most difficult to overcome. I work out on my own as much as I can, I kick the ball around a bit with my son on our lawn, but training with the team is totally different.”

The league was suspended on March 9. While talks are on regarding restart, no steps will be taken till the government’s decision comes out next week on possible changes to lockdown restrictions. All 20 Premier League clubs, meanwhile, met on a video call in which they looked at plans for a resumption of training later in May, followed by a possible return to action in June.

Martinez to Continue

Belgium national football team coach Roberto Martinez

Belgium national football team coach Roberto Martinez will stay will the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez extended his contract till the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, ending speculations about a new deal, Belgian media reported Saturday.

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No official confirmation has come from the Belgian football association but newspapers said Martinez would stay incharge till the next World Cup after a new two-year deal was negotiated.

His contract was to run out after this year’s European Championship (UEFA Euro), which has been postponed by a year.

Martinez, 46, said in interviews over the last weeks that he wanted to stay in charge so that  he takes Belgium to Euro 2021, where they are drawn in Group B and are going to play Denmark, Finland and Russia.

The teams, which is at the top of the FIFA world rankings, qualified in imposing fashion, winning all 10 qualifiers, scoring 40 goals and conceding just three.

Premier League Meeting

Premier League meeting ahead of project restart

Premier League clubs held a video conference on Friday, discussing Project Restart

Karren Brady, West Ham United vice-chairman, insisted that all of the Premier League clubs want the season to complete despite “a lot of obstacles” in restarting the campaign.

Clubs were also acquainted with the league’s “Project Restart” at a meeting on Friday and were told that the 92 remaining matches of the 2019-2020 season should be played at neutral venues without fans.

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“At yesterday’s meeting, every club said it wants the season to restart,” said Brady in her column for the Sun newspaper.

“The only common theme from all the Prem clubs is that any compromises have to be fair and uphold the integrity of the game. Players and managers have to be key decision-makers on the protocols as there is a long way to go from where we are now to actually getting playing again. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome and no doubt many compromises to make.”

However, the principal concern still remains whether resuming play would affect the health of the players, club staff members and, by extension, their families at risk.

Contract Extensions at Hyderabad FC

Hyderabad FC are already executing plans for the next Indian Super League (ISL) season. The club extended the contracts of midfielder Abhishek Halder and defender Dimple Bhagat. The duo will remain with the team till 2022.

Kolkata-born Halder made eight appearances for Hyderabad FC last season. 

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“Although I have played in the I-League and ISL before, this year was a massive learning experience for me. I got to play more games but I also realised how much competition is there in every squad and how hard we must keep working. It starts with being focused in training and working on the new philosophy which we have now with Albert Roca and Xavi Gurri,” the 22-year-old said.

The duo is going to join Adil Khan, Mohammad Yasir, Asish Rai, and Nikhil Poojary, who also got contract extensions recently.

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