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Italy’s Serie A to resume on June 20

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ROME, Italy, May 28 – Italy’s Serie A was given the green light on Thursday to resume on June 20 after a three-month absence as one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic begins to ease restrictions.

Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said that the government’s Technical and Scientific Committee (CTS) had agreed to the health protocol proposed by Italian football chiefs.

“Italy has started to return to normal life again, it is only right that football should do the same,” said Spadafora.

“The federation assured me that it had a Plan B and a Plan C.

“In light of these considerations, the championship can resume on June 20.”

Italian football federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina told the minister during the video conference that a play-off system would be used if the championship were again interrupted, while the existing standings would be used if it were stopped.

“We had a very useful meeting,” said Spadafora. “From the start, I said that football could restart once all the security conditions had been met.”

No top-flight matches in Italy have been played since Sassuolo beat Brescia 3-0 on March 9.

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One of the hardest hit countries by the coronavirus pandemic with over 33,000 deaths, Italian football now faces a scheduling nightmare, for matches which will take place behind closed doors.

Lega Serie A will meet on Friday morning to examine “the different calendar hypotheses” for the remaining Serie A and Italian Cup matches, amounting to 127 in total.

Most teams have 12 league games left to play, but there were four postponed fixtures.

Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora (centre) has given the green light for Serie A to resume on June 20. © AFP/File / Andreas SOLARO

Spadafora suggested that the Italian Cup could be concluded the week before the return to Serie A action.

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The semi-final return leg matches between Inter Milan and Napoli and AC Milan and Juventus, could be played on June 13-14 with the final on June 17.

“I also hope to be able to send a positive signal to the whole country by taking advantage of the week from June 13 to 20 to conclude the Italian Cup,” he added.

The announcement of the resumption of the Italian league comes just after the English Premier League confirmed it will restart on June 17.

The German championship has already resumed and Spain’s La Liga will return to the pitch the week of June 8.

Among the five major European championships, only the French Ligue 1 has been definitively stopped.

“I’m happy and satisfied,” said Gravina. “The restart of football represents a message of hope for the whole country.”

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But many issues remain to be resolved including match schedules, players’ contracts which end on June 30, and unpaid TV rights by broadcasters.

“Footballers are not robots, there are concerns,” said Damiano Tommasi, president of the players’ union.

“A critical issue is (playing a) match at 4.30pm which in June and July in Italy is unthinkable,” added the former Italy and Roma player.

The thorniest issue remains the two-week quarantine period in the case of a positive test, which Spadafora insisted would remain.

“The CTS agreed with the medical protocol, but confirmed the absolute necessity for a quarantine period if a player were to test positive,” said Spadafora, who did not exclude future changes to the rule.

“I’m ready to bet on the resumption of the championship, but with this rule of quarantine of 14 days, the possibilities of concluding it are not high,” said Enrico Castellacci, president of the Italian Football Doctors Association.

“It’s a crime. I’m not going to quarantine 50 healthy people. We don’t do this if there is a positive case in a factory,” argued Lazio doctor Ivo Pulcini, with the Roman club committed to a resumption of the season, as they sit just one point behind leaders Juventus.

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Health CS Mutahi Kagwe speaks out on Robert Burale’s Covid-19 drama

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Health CS Mutahi Kagwe speaks out on Robert Burale’s Covid-19 drama

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Judge halts eviction of homeowners in Ngong forest row

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By SAM KIPLAGAT

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A number of residents from Lang’ata have obtained orders barring Environment CS Keriako Tobiko from demolishing their homes on claims that they were erected on grabbed Ngong Forest land.

In a petition certified urgent by Justice Benard Eboso of the Environment and Land Court, the residents said they obtained the title deeds lawfully and plans by the CS and Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to demolish their homes were illegal.

Mr Kagwanja Thuo, one of the residents, said in court documents that he bought the parcel from Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri in 2006 and has since erected his home.

He said claims by the CS that the titles were illegally obtained are baseless and the court should intervene and stop the fraudulent plans.

Another resident under the name of Lang’ata Gardens Ltd, said he has put up a multi-storey building worth Sh240 million in a plot in Lang’ata Phase 3 and it would be illegal to bring it down, yet the title is lawful.

He said he is an innocent purchaser and plans by the CS to bring down the homes amount to impunity.

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Justice Eboso extended the orders barring the CS and KFS from demolishing the homes, pending the hearing of the case on July 28.

Last month, the CS said more than 800 homes will be brought down as the government seeks to recover and reclaim the land, which was illegally hived off Ngong Forest. 

Royal Park, Sunvalley I and II, Lang’ata Gardens, Langa’ta View Gardens, Forest Edge, Kenya Medical Association Estate and St Mary’s Hospital, as well as others in Racecourse where land was annexed for foreign commercial developments are among the targeted properties.

The land was gazetted as forest land in 1932, then measuring 7,239 acres. Just after independence in 1964, when the forest was declared a central forest, it had shrunk by nearly half to 3,722.5 acres due to further excisions. By 1978 it had contracted even more to 3,274.57 acres.

Decades later, the forest was hived off again, leaving only 2,443.37 acres in 1996 and 1,330.39 acres in 1999. 

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70pc of households struggle to pay rent

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By JOHN MUTUA

Nearly 70 percent of households captured in a State survey had difficulties in paying their rent in May, highlighting the impact of Covid-19 hardships on the property market.

A national survey conducted by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) on the impact of the disease on households has revealed that 31.6 per cent of those interviewed paid rent on time compared to 41.7 percent in April.

About 37 percent of those who defaulted were unable to pay rent while 23 percent paid partially and another 8.5 percent were hopeful of meeting the landlord’s obligations, reflecting the impact of restrictions to curb the global Covid-19 pandemic on workers’ incomes.

In April, 30.5 percent of those interviewed were unable to pay rent while 19.7 percent paid partially, a pointer that the economy was hardest-hit in May. Of those who were unable to pay rent, 61 percent blamed it on reduced income while 25.7 percent attributed the challenges to temporary layoffs and closure of their businesses.

“The majority of the households that were unable to pay rent cited reduced income or earnings as the main reason,” said Treasury Secretary Ukur Yatani Thursday.

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The government closed bars and schools to slow down the spread of the virus after Kenya reported its first coronavirus case on March 12.

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The social distancing and closure of businesses like bars and restaurants have affected consumer spending, setting the stage for job cuts and unpaid leave for workers.

The rent defaults emerged in a period when office and home lease costs eased in the first three months of the year with effects of the pandemic expected to further hurt the property market due to low demand.

The number of households that got waivers or relief on their rent fell to 6.7 percent in the period from 8.7 percent in April as landlords shunned State calls to shield Kenyans from the coronavirus woes.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in April implored landlords to reduce the rent to cushion Kenyans grappling with job losses, salary cuts and unpaid leave.

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