UCLA student council adopts resolution to protect student-athletes from COVID-19

As campuses prepare for the possibility of a traditional calendar of fall sports, the UCLA student council has adopted a resolution asking Gov. Gavin Newsome of California and several university officials to guarantee a series of coronavirus-related protections that include allowing student-athletes to decide whether or not to participate in team activities without fear of "cancellation of their scholarships, threats, or retaliation."

The resolution, which was also addressed to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and new university athletics director Martin Jarmond, asked that athletes be included on all COVID-19 task forces; be informed about the risks COVID-19 poses to themselves and their families; and called "for public health officials to identify and enforce health and safety standards related to COVID-19, and the prevention of serious injury, abuse, and death as a condition for resuming college sports activity."

"As of today, none of the task forces created for the return to practice or competition of student-athletes has included the voices of those same students," said student council member Elijah Wade, a former UCLA football player. "This has created fear and confusion among some within the athletic community. They have concerns that their health and well being is being weighed against money for the university, its coaches, and administration.

UCLA's Joshua Kelley runs the ball during Senior Bowl practice in January. (Photo: Vasha Hunt, USA TODAY Sports)

"As we look at the rampant negligence and mistreatment of student-athletes in NCAA sports, it’s clear that colleges can not be trusted with policing themselves on any health recommendations passed down by state or local officials.”

The resolution was endorsed by the National College Players Association, which advocates for college athletes. The safeguards included by the student council should "also ensure colleges pay for any short-term or long-term COVID-19 related medical expenses for their players," the group said.

In a statement provided to USA TODAY Sports, UCLA said it "is working closely with campus leadership to determine how and when student-athletes — and the larger campus community — can return safely. The timeline and protocol that are ultimately determined will be based on the guidance of public health agencies."

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The university's Athletic Council, which includes student-athlete representatives from all 25 sports teams, "as well as leaders from other student-athlete groups, will be consulted on return-to-training models," the statement continued. "The health and safety of our student-athletes and staff has been and will continue to be our top priority as we navigate the path forward."

Major conferences are beginning to set start dates for team activities, following the lead of the NCAA, which voted this week to allow athletes across all sports to participate in voluntary team activities beginning June 1. The Pac-12 will allow voluntary in-person workouts beginning on June 15, the conference said, as will the Big 12. The SEC will allow activities to resume on June 8.

“If a star quarterback wakes up on game day with a fever and cough, you can expect  him to play with or without a COVID-19 test at many of these colleges," said National College Players Association Executive Director Ramogi Huma. 

"We've seen players kept in games on national TV with obvious concussion symptoms, we've seen university officials cover up the sexual assaults and mistreatment of countless college athletes, about half of athletic trainers report coaches pressuring them to return seriously injured players to competition. It will be no different with unenforced COVID-19 guidelines unless public officials act."

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La Liga hoping for fans in stadiums to start next season, Spanish government insists

Spain’s top sports government official says fans may be back in football stadiums beginning next season.

Irene Lozano, president of the Spanish Sports Council, believes that conditions could be in place by the fall to allow fans back, with some restrictions.

“We haven’t ruled that out,” she said on Tuesday. “Depending on how the epidemic progresses and how the situation progresses, we can start looking into putting a certain number of fans into the stadiums next season.”

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La Liga is expected to resume — without fans — on the second weekend of June, nearly three months after it was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Right now, the main goal is to be able to finish this season,” she said. “And it is clear that the best option now is to do it with matches behind closed doors. But we have to take into consideration that as we return to a new normality, having fans back in the stadiums can be done, as long as we follow the health safety measures in place.”

Lozano said she expects only parts of stadiums to be filled at first, with social distancing guidelines and protective materials such as gloves and masks likely still required.

She said Spain wants to be seen as a model on how organise sports events after the pandemic.

“Internationally speaking, Spain has led the way in safely organising sports events,” Lozano said. “We want to be at the forefront and export a model for this new era of safe sports. This will not be something difficult to do. We will find this model, which now will need to take into account a lot of safety measures and guarantees, and which will obviously have to account for having fans in the stadiums.”

Lozano said the government is considering allowing the media to cover matches on site this season.

“I’m aware that the league is a relevant event that has to be covered by all the media,” she said. “We are looking into everyone that needs to be in the matches, almost to try to create a capsule and guarantee that the epidemic won’t spread, and we are seriously considering allowing journalists to be in the league matches. Technically, we think it’s possible to do that maintaining distancing guidelines.”

Lozano said all Spanish league clubs are expected to be allowed to resume full squad training sessions beginning next week even though not all parts of the country will be under the same confinement restrictions.

“That was solved from the start, when Madrid and Barcelona were stuck behind,” she said. “The first thing was to guarantee everyone’s health, then the priority was to guarantee the integrity of the competition.”

Lozano also said it was important that the Sevilla players who broke confinement rules in a gathering with a large group of people last week promptly apologised.

“They know they made a mistake,” she said. “We can’t allow for a careless attitude to put everyone’s health at risk. The players have to be aware that they are a model to everyone.”

The Spanish football federation says it will allow games to be played on Mondays and Fridays until the end of the season even though a judge denied the league’s official request to play on those days.

League president Javier Tebas has said he wanted matches to be played every day, but the federation had been against the idea.

The federation said it “wants to clearly show its good will” and is also willing to extend the exception into the beginning of next season depending on how the pandemic progresses and if games will continue to be played without fans.

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Kylian Mbappe: Jurgen Klopp behind ‘ruthless Liverpool machine’

Kylian Mbappe has revealed how impressed he has been by Liverpool this season, saying Jurgen Klopp has turned them into a “ruthless machine”.

The Reds have dominated the 2019/20 Premier League, and sat 25 points ahead of second-placed Manchester City when the competition was halted due to coronavirus in March.

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Liverpool’s success has impressed Mbappe, who has been taking note from France, where his PSG side were declared champions for the seventh time in eight years after the season was curtailed.

He told The Mirror: “This season Liverpool have been a machine in the Premier League. They have made winning look easy – but the truth is that is never easy.

“To be as ruthless as they have been would come from having a very good manager and lots of hard work in training. Performances like they have been having don’t just happen.”

The 21-year-old is no stranger to success himself, having already won four French titles, a French Cup, a French League Cup, as well as the World Cup with France in 2018.

Mbappe finished fourth in the vote for the Ballon d’Or that year, but he says climbing to the top of that podium to claim football’s biggest individual honour is not one of his priorities.

“It would be nice to win – but it is not something that keeps me awake at night,” he said. “I don’t think I have to win it next season or the season after – there is no time limit I have put on it.

“Always I will put PSG and the national team as my priority – then if personal honours come from my performances then it is a bonus.”

Analysis: How can Liverpool improve?

Sky Sports’ Adam Bate…

‘Liverpool have not even had the chance to wrap up that first league title in 30 years yet but such is the capacity for football to throw things forward – even when at a standstill – that it feels natural for thoughts to turn to how Jurgen Klopp’s side might be able to improve.

‘Not easy with a team that was on course to break the Premier League points record…’

Read more here

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Coronavirus: Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says 2020 NFL season will ‘definitely’ happen

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross believes the NFL’s 2020 season will take place as scheduled later this year despite the coronavirus pandemic and that his team’s plan is to have fans in attendance.

The 80-year-old real estate developer said the league wants to have fans in place but that plan is subject to change before the regular season begins on September 10.

Speaking in an interview with CNBC, Ross said: “I think definitely there will be a football season this year. The real question is will there be fans in the stadium?

“Right now, today, we’re planning to have fans in the stadium. But I think the NFL is looking at, and is very flexible, so that we will be able to start on time and bring that entertainment that is so needed for all of us in this country.”

Miami’s home opener is scheduled for September 20 against AFC East division rival Buffalo.

The Dolphins went 5-11 in 2019 and finished last in the division but there is plenty of excitement in Miami after the team selected quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick of last month’s NFL Draft, which was held in a virtual format due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Dennis Rodman’s mid-season Las Vegas party – would it happen in football?

Dennis Rodman’s mid-season party in Las Vegas raised a few eyebrows among Chicago Bulls team-mates in 1997, but could it ever be sanctioned in football?

The Last Dance, a 10-part series available to watch on Netflix via Sky Q, tells the story of Michael Jackson and the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, with episode three focusing on eccentric power forward Rodman.

After being Robin to Jordan’s Batman for most of the 1997/98 season while fellow star Scottie Pippen was out injured, Rodman then asked to take a 48-hour break in Las Vegas, having done so the previous year in the 1997 NBA Finals.

Coach Phil Jackson granted Rodman his Sin City party, but it would end up lasting longer than two days, with Jordan eventually travelling to Vegas to rip Rodman out of his hotel room bed before returning to the team.

Bulls eventually won their sixth NBA crown that season, and Rodman himself returned to his best form soon after, but could a team-sanctioned trip to party for a few days ever work in football?

Speaking on The Football Show on Monday, Graeme Souness and Jamie Carragher agreed it would be nearly impossible…

Souness: Everyone treated the same

“In my experience, no. You couldn’t say: ‘Tell you what, we’re in the middle of a hard group of games, I’d like to go off to London or Paris for a few nights with my girlfriend.’ No, it just wouldn’t be accepted, whoever you are. My experience of the dressing rooms I was brought up in is that everyone was treated the same. Everyone the same.

“Kenny Dalglish and I were big people in that dressing room, but if we didn’t do the business we’d be talked to exactly the same as a young guy being brought into the team.

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“And I don’t believe it could exist today either. You can’t be seen to be treating someone so differently, to say to someone like Dennis Rodman: ‘Go and take yourself off to Vegas, son.’ That would just not work in a football environment as I understand it.

“Then again, there have been football managers like Phil Jackson who have just given the dressing room back to the players. When you’ve got such talented players, they don’t need coaching, be told what to do when they’re out there, there’s not a lot you can tell them. They may think: ‘I’ll make them feel like they’re running the club, it’s their club, I’ll let them get on with it.'”

Carra: There’s a risk and reward

“I’m with Graeme, but it is fascinating. The coach, Phil Jackson, is a world-renowned coach, and it’s the way he manages these superstars, and it was obviously proving to be successful.

“I agree you all get treated the same, but sometimes there’s a risk and reward type situation… ‘Can I put up with that because I’m getting this much out on the pitch?’

“The coach got it right because they won so much.”

Carra: Jordan criticism? I loved his intensity

The documentary has been criticised in the weeks since its release, with claims it centred too closely around Jordan and not his Bulls team-mates, while some have criticised Jordan himself for bullying tactics and for “going too far” in tussles with team-mates.

But Carra welcomed Jordan’s attitude, and insists in top-level sport you need that ruthless attitude to succeed.

“Some people are attacking Michael Jordan for the way he was. I just absolutely loved how intense the guy was. He got into rucks at times with team-mates, because he went so close to the line. When you’re so passionate about something, it will push you to the line, and it’s difficult not to cross that line.

“I was on a football pitch once and nearly struck one of my team-mates, I nearly punched Alvaro Arbeloa [in 2009]. I don’t look back on that proud, but that was always going to happen at some stage because you were so intense, wanted to win and everything mattered.

“He took his team to somewhere they’d never been before, and broke all sorts of records in the NBA. The drive and relentlessness I admired, there’s no way I would criticise that. When you see someone, who is an absolute winner, I have no problem with that. Top-level sport is tough, it should be tough.

“I always said this about people coming into the Liverpool dressing room when I was playing – what I didn’t like was that I felt some players we brought in felt getting to Liverpool was: ‘I’ve done it… I’ve achieved…’ – but when you play for Liverpool you have to win trophies, keep driving on, have to push.

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Celtic’s Eboue Kouassi joins Genk on permanent deal

Belgian side KRC Genk have confirmed the permanent signing of Ivorian Eboue Kouassi from Scottish champions Celtic.

The 22-year-old joined Genk on loan in January with an option to buy having failed to make an impact at Parkhead following a £2.8m move from Russian side FC Krasnodar in 2017.

Kouassi managed just 22 appearances in all competitions across four seasons with Celtic, failing to score a goal under first Brendan Rodgers and later Neil Lennon.

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Huw Jenkins says his Charlton takeover bid hangs ‘in the balance’

Huw Jenkins says an exclusivity period he had been given to complete a deal for Charlton Athletic has expired, and his bid to buy the club now hangs “in the balance”.

Jenkins knows of three or four other interested parties who are in discussions with owner Tahnoon Nimer to buy the Championship club.

One of them is former Watford owner Laurence Bassini, who sent his proof of funds to the club on Saturday night having decided to proceed with his own takeover bid.

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Jenkins was chairman of Swansea for 17 years, during which time he led the club from the fourth tier of English football all the way up to the Premier League.

Five weeks of discussions with Charlton were concluded in the middle of last week when a provisional deal was struck to buy the club for £1m.

However, a 48-hour period for him to complete the deal has expired, opening the door to other interested parties.

“It puts it very much in the balance and I’m led to believe there are a few very keen interested parties to do a deal,” Jenkins exclusively told Sky Sports News.

“It’s not down to me fully, it’s down to the current owners and their need to quickly do a deal.

“Personally, I need more time to be clear and just move forward cautiously to make sure things are right for myself. The other side I’m not in control of, the need of the current owners and the timescale they need to operate in.”

Sky Sports News has been told that Charlton need to pay wages and other bills totalling more than £400k this week.

Nimer has been trying to sell Charlton since a public fall-out with former chairman Matt Southall, who was removed from the club’s board in March.

Jenkins has confirmed that his provisional deal does include the standing agreement for the club to buy the stadium and training ground from former owner Roland Duchatelet within the next five years.

“Any kind of legal situation whether it’s fought out in private or in the press is not good,” he said.

“Charlton do have a number of things attached to the club with the current owners, past directors, and past owner, and all of those things still have a link to the club and cause a lot of uncertainty.

“I was fully aware that there were big challenges ahead to try to correct all of that and bring it back under one leadership.

“For Charlton at the minute, with those three or four different things that could potentially impact on the field it can be a big hindrance, and the quicker all those things are resolved, as I said, under one leadership then that will be a good thing for the future.”

Not only is there uncertainty about the future of football, but also which division Charlton will be playing in next season.

In the Championship relegation zone, they would potentially be relegated if the season is not finished after the EFL ruled that relegation will not be scrapped in the event its members vote to curtail the current campaign.

Even so, Jenkins is keen to take on a new challenge and remains interested in Charlton if the current owners give him the time to make sure the deal is right and there is a clear pathway for the season to resume.

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David Stockdale, Cheick Keita and Jefferson Montero to leave Birmingham City on June 30

Goalkeeper David Stockdale and left-back Cheick Keita have been told they are leaving Birmingham at the end of June.

Championship clubs are set to return to training on Monday as they tentatively begin steps towards resuming their season next month.

But the Blues have told the pair their current deals will not be extended beyond the end of next month, meaning they will not finish out the season with their team-mates if it does resume as hoped.

City also say they will not be looking to extend the loan of winger Jefferson Montero from Swansea.

Stockdale was a high-profile signing in the summer of 2017, the first player signed by Harry Redknapp after a successful spell at Brighton.

The 34-year-old made 39 appearances in his debut campaign before falling out of favour under Garry Monk.

He has since had loan spells with Southend United, Wycombe Wanderers (twice) and Coventry City.

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La Liga target June 11 return with Sevilla-Real Betis

La Liga president Javier Tebas hopes a derby between Sevilla and Real Betis will mark the return of the Spanish top flight on June 11 after being paused for three months due to coronavirus.

All organised football in Spain was suspended indefinitely on March 12 with the country among one of the hardest hit by the pandemic with 235,290 infections and 28,752 people dying.

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However, Spain is now set to join Germany and Portugal in resuming matches without spectators after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the league would be allowed to start again from June 8 along with other sectors of the economy.

All non-professional leagues have already been cancelled although clubs in the top two divisions have resumed training in groups of up to 10 players, with full squads in La Liga able to train from June 1.

“Our aim is to be able to announce the first four rounds of fixtures next week,” Tebas told Spanish television network Movistar on Sunday.

“There is a possibility that there is a game on June 11, which would be the only match that night and perhaps there will be a tribute to all the people who have died (from the virus).

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Football League stars concerned over safety of BAME players

Football League players concerned over safety of stars from BAME communities during coronavirus crisis after crunch talks with EFL chiefs

  • Football League stars hold concerns over safety of BAME stars during pandemic
  • Championship clubs due to return to training on Monday ahead of June restart 
  • The safety of BAME players was at the forefront of talks held last Wednesday 
  • The EFL advised concerned BAME payers to discuss the issue with club doctors 
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Football League players have serious concerns over the threat posed to those from BAME communities.

Championship clubs are due to return to training on Monday with a view to restart by the end of June.

But Sportsmail can reveal the safety of BAME players was at the forefront of talks between players and EFL chiefs during a video conference last Wednesday.

Football League stars are concerned over the safety of BAME stars during coronavirus crisis

In it, the EFL advised BAME players who have concerns to discuss the issue with club doctors. They also offered the opportunity to talk with their occupational medicine consultant Dr Subhasis Basu.

However, in a document seen by Sportsmail, the EFL say that BAME players are twice as likely to die from Covid-19. But it goes on to say: ‘This is a lower risk than a BAME athlete suffering a serious cardiac event, which is about four times as likely.’

The communication adds that older BAME individuals – such as coaches – with underlying health conditions are at much higher risk. 

The EFL confirmed there will be no extra testing for BAME players. All will be tested twice a week. Other issues confirmed include: 

A number of Premier League stars hold similar concerns and are reluctant to return to training

The EFL advised BAME payers concerned with the threat to discuss the issue with club doctors

  • If a player dies after being infected with Covid-19, their family are entitled to a maximum of £600,000 insurance money from the EFL.
  • Family members will not be tested, despite requests from players.
  • June 23 is the cut-off date for clubs to make offers to players who are out of contract.
  • Players are entitled to a month’s severance pay if they extend their contracts past the standard June 30 date.
  • Players should be allowed to opt out of returning without the threat of being fined or having their contracts terminated.

It has been confirmed that, at a minimum, players are insured through the Professional Footballers’ Pension Scheme for death in service to four times their yearly wage, subject to an annual salary cap of £150,000.

Players would probably be due extra compensation from their clubs and personal insurance policies.

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