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Win for Rashford as Boris Johnson U-Turns On Free Meal for School Children, Premier League CEO Backs 'Black Lives Matter' Messages On Jerseys and More (Football Round-up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): British prime minister Boris Johnson agrees to provide free school meal vouchers in major U-turn | Premier League CEO backs 'Black Lives Matter' messages on team jerseys | Jeje Lalpekhlua takes part in online gaming event to aid volunteer died during lockdown | Kerala Blasters' Karolis Skinkys: Changes to foreign player policy should be gradual | World Cup 2022 will unite the world once Covid-19 has been defeated, says Qatar official.
Manchester United player Marcus Rashford who campaigned for free meals for school children

Marcus Rashford raised $25 million for FareShare charity and had written an open letter to the government on June 15, requesting they not stop the meal voucher programme.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a spectacular u-turn on funding meals for students in need following a passionate campaign led by footballer Marcus Rashford. 

The Manchester United striker raised $25 million for FareShare charity and had written an open letter to the government on June 15, requesting they not stop the meal voucher programme at the end of the school term in July. The 22-year-old cited his own experiences as a youngster reliant on free school lunches and food banks and made a strong appeal that the government reconsider their stance.

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Johnson was initially opposed to the idea, but the government caved in and announced it would continue to supply food vouchers over the six-week summer break to 1.3 million children in England from low-income family background eligible for free school meals. 

Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, said “The prime minister fully understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation.”

“To reflect this we will be providing a Covid Summer Food Fund. This will provide food vouchers covering the six-week holiday period. This is a specific measure to reflect the unique circumstances of the pandemic. The scheme will not continue beyond the summer and those eligible will be those who already qualify for free school meals.”

'Black Lives Matter' on Premier League Jerseys 

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said he supports the move to have the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter’ on player’s shirts in the games this week further adding that it represented an ethical stance rather than a political one.

“I support them in using their platforms to push good causes. The messages you are going to see coming through the Premier League matches in relation to thanking the NHS, with the ‘Heart NHS’ logo on the front of shirts and also the anti-discrimination messages coming forward, are issues that all players feel,” Masters told Sky Sports.

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“I think it is a good thing that players are using their voices to make what I think are ethical value judgements rather than political statements. They are supposed to be unifying messages, and we support them and so do the clubs,” he added.

Masters also revealed that discussions about fans attending the matches again have begun. "We're very keen to see fans back in the stadium at the earliest possible juncture when it's safe and appropriate to do so," he said.

Despite that, Masters pleaded with fans not to assemble outside stadiums when the League restarts later today. "By turning up to the game, you are potentially putting it in jeopardy, something that we've worked really hard for, which is to play those matches at home and away," he said.

The Premier League have issued detailed guidance for the restart stating: "Strict protocols have been put in place to ensure that stadiums are as safe as possible for everybody present."

Jeje Joins Gamers in Charity Match

Indian football team striker Jeje Lalpekhlua teamed up with mobile gamers from Mizoram for an online gaming event to help the family of a volunteer who died while enforcing the lockdown to contain the coronavirus.

H Lalvenmawii, 18, died last week on duty enforcing the lockdown in a remote corner of the state. Lalpekhlua was among 31 professional footballers who took part in the gaming event . 

“For me, it’s simple. Every person should be ready to come out and help one another. It doesn’t matter where we are from, and what we have. Everyone has to help and that is why I am here for the cause,” said Lalpekhlua, who also donated blood during the lockdown. 

“I sincerely hope that we are going to get through this together, and everything will be normal in Mizoram soon,” added the 29-year old striker. 

Lalvenmawii was camping at the Myanmar border to enforce the lockdown but died after contracting malaria on June 9.

“The people of Mizoram have shared their sincere condolences for the deceased. Hence, we decided to have this exhibition match to honour the deceased patriot,” Jeje added.

The online gaming event witnessed over 100 participants play the popular multiplayer game PUBG Mobile, as viewers watched it live and contributed to the cause.

Blasters' Skinkys on Foreigner Policy

Kerala Blasters sporting director Karolis Skinkys is of the opinion that the change in the foreign player policy in the Indian Super League (ISL) should be a gradual process. 

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The All India Football Federation (AIFF) recommended the application of the ‘3+1’ foreign player rule last month. The decision was later ratified by the Executive Committee and ISL clubs agreed to reduce the number foreign players from the 2021-22 season. The decision was in line with the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC’s) guideline that said only four foreigners should be included in the starting line up out of which one player should be from Asia. 

In an interview, Skinkys said, "To be honest, this (foreign) policy has two sides. I agree with the argument that domestic players will get more games with fewer foreigners. However, it is equally important for them to have a competitive environment to grow and learn."

During a meeting that was organised a few weeks back, most of the clubs in ISL agreed to having four overseas players at any given point of time on the pitch from the next season.

‘Qatar 2022 Will World Post COVID-19’

Education City Stadium is the third FIFA 2022 World Cup venue to have reached completion by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC).

SC Secretary General, H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi believes “Qatar 2022 has become even more important due to recent events. Sport – and particularly football – has the potential to bring people together in a post Covid-19 world.”

Thawadi believes the completion of another stadium is bound to lift the spirits of other countries and give everyone something to look forward to.

Thawadi said “there is an extra layer of expectation and an opportunity to provide billions of people with an unforgettable, feel-good moment” while talking about the completion of the stadiums along with how the World Cup will impact the lives of people post coronavirus.

While talking about the completion of the Education City Stadium, Thawadi said finishing the stadium amid the pandemic was a "a big challenge".

"But we managed to overcome it," he said. “We were able to maintain the continuity of work in a positive way, but at the same time ensure a safe and healthy environment for everyone."

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