Borussia Dortmund players celebrate after scoring against Schalke with elbow bumps, a new norm following Covid-19 (Pic: Twitter, BBC Sport).
Germany's Bundesliga football league came back to life at empty stadiums on May 16 after a two-months break due to Covid-19 pandemic. Lucien Favre’s Borussia Dortmund dominated the whole match against Schalke winning 4-0 at the empty Signal Iduna Park in the Ruhr Derby.
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With no spectators at the stands, masks worn by coaches in the dugout, and elbow bumping celebrations, the match took place in circumstances that were stranger than usual. The match witnessed a slow start and Erling Haaland scored a goal close to the half-hour mark by an exquisite tap-in from a Thorgan Hazard cross. Wingback Raphael Guerreiro scored another goal 15 minutes later, doubling the lead with a low finish past Schalke’s goalkeeper Markus Schubert.
The second half of the match was no chase either and Dortmund grabbed two quick goals via Hazard and Guerreiro to make it 4-0 by the 63rd minute. They maintained their lead and moved to 54 points from 26 matches on the Bundesliga table.
Watford Manager Fears the Worst
Watford manager Nigel Pearson raised concerns about the possibility of coronavirus-related deaths in the Premier League and urged the decision makers to be cautious before resuming the season.
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Clubs are likely to come back for some kind of training next week following a Premier League meeting on May 18, when medical protocols for the same are going to be listed and voted on, while the campaign is expecting a mid-June restart.
"God forbid we have a fatality," he was quoted by The Times. "People are closing their eyes to the threat.
"Yes, we would like to restart it but it's got to be safe. We should be cautious. To ignore possibilities is foolhardy. It's about safeguarding people's health.
"We have to try to believe (Government) advice that we're being given that we've reached the peak but there's still an incredible number of people losing their lives through this.”
Pearson has also had some reservations about 'Project Restart' and has called for a more holistic and careful approach while the UK is still fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
Villarreal, Getafe Deny Match Fixing
Villarreal and Getafe denied any wrongdoing on their part after the national media reported that police are probing a possible match-fixing in a 2-2 draw between the two clubs in La Liga last year.
“Villarreal and its first team wish to show their absolute rejection of the accusations made today and categorically deny being involved in any way in fixing the game against Getafe on the final day of last season,” said a club statement.
“As it has done on repeated occasions, the club condemns any conduct that damages the essence of sport and competition and stresses that the values of transparency, ethics, integrity and fair play are fundamental to its philosophy.”
The El Pais, in its report, said the match is being looked at as part of Operation Oikos, which was launched last year and led to 11 people being arrested on suspicion of putting together a match-fixing group and making profits from betting on games.
Polish Ekstraklasa Target New Fans
Football fans around the world are waiting for live matches to start and the Ekstraklasa in Poland is ready to offer them exactly what they want.
Germany is leading Europe’s top-ranked leagues, and restarted action this weekend after a two month long shutdown. Poland is going to follow them on May 29 with the matches getting streamed across the world. The idea is to reach new viewers as a part of a new digital strategy.
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The kind of attention games in South Korea got this month suggests a demand for football to return during the pandemic, but with safety. A successful restart in Poland is also likely to keep on track the Europa League final in Gdansk. The matches were scheduled for May 27 and UEFA hopes for a late-August date to get the action rolling.
Ekstraklasa president Marcin Animucki said that he had interest in matches that were being telecast from Germany, Italy, Portugal and parts of Asia as 11 rounds of games remaining.
“All we need now is live matches from the stadia,” Animucki said in a telephone interview from Warsaw.
Bala Devi an Inspiration: Praful Patel
All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel asked the country's women footballers to take inspiration from Bala Devi, who now plays for the Scottish Premier League club Rangers FC.
The national team striker from Manipur got a professional contract with Rangers, becoming the first Indian woman footballer to do so.
During an online interaction with the national team players of all age-groups, Patel told Bala Devi, “We are extremely proud of your achievements. You have shown the road ahead to the budding footballers, and have proved that our women footballers are in no way inferior to anyone.
“I am sure you will make others ? your colleagues, the U-17 women’s team girls dream too.”
Bala Devi is currently in Glasgow and told the women that the exposure she got from the national team made her confident as a player.
Patel also interacted with players on an individual basis to understand their mindset during the pandemic.