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League-by-league guide to the return of football around Europe

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PARIS, France, May 23With the German Bundesliga on its second weekend back following the two-month coronavirus shutdown and La Liga given the green light by the Spanish government to return next month, AFP Sport casts a glance at the situation for football leagues across Europe:

– Leagues restarting –

On Friday the Bundesliga started its second matchday since returning from its virus hiatus last week, with all matches going ahead behind closed doors.

It was not the first European league to return, however. That honour went to the Faroe Islands, which resumed its league a week earlier. Not forgetting Belarus, which was the only European country where football carried on throughout the last two months.

On Saturday Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said La Liga could return in the week of June 8, meaning league chief Javier Tebas’ desire to restart on June 12 should now become reality.

Here are confirmed restart dates elsewhere:

Czech Republic — May 23

Denmark — May 28

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Serbia — May 30

Austria — June 2

Portugal — June 4

Slovenia — June 5

Croatia — June 6

Turkey — June 12

Norway — June 16

Russia — June 21

Finland — July 1

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– Still awaiting green light –

England and Italy both remain hopeful of completing the season but ongoing concerns about the health crisis mean nothing is set in stone.

Six positive cases for coronavirus were detected at three English Premier League clubs, including Watford defender Adrian Mariappa, following tests of players and staff ahead of this week’s return to socially-distanced training in small groups.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said on Friday that he is “as confident as we can be” that England’s top flight will return in June.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) said on Wednesday that it has pushed back the end date for the current season to August 20, with matches not to be played before June 14.

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On Tuesday Serie A clubs were given the all clear by the Italian government to resume group training. However sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora says clubs will have to wait until Thursday to know if the season can resume.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he needs “more guarantees” before the green light could finally be given for football to resume.

Other hoped-for restart dates include:

Romania — May 27

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Poland — May 29

Greece – June 6

Switzerland — June 20

– Season over –

The Netherlands was the first European country to bring an early end to the season on April 24 as the Eredivisie was cancelled without a champion being crowned.

France then followed suit on April 30, ending the season with 10 rounds of matches unplayed.

The season was not voided, though, with Paris Saint-Germain confirmed as champions, European places dished out and relegation and promotion between the top two divisions maintained on a two-up, two-down basis.

Belgium has also ended its season, with Club Brugge champions, after the Belgian government announced it was suspending all sporting competitions until July 31.

In Scotland the season had already been called early in the three divisions below the top flight and the Premiership followed suit on Monday, with Celtic being crowned champions for the ninth year running.

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Luxembourg and Cyprus also called an end to their seasons but without naming a champion.

However in Cyprus European places were attributed with Omonia Nicosia entering the qualifying rounds of the next Champions League.

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SDT gives FKF temporary reprieve but CEO Otieno not off the hook

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By JEFF KINYANJUI

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The Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) Thursday afternoon offered temporary reprieve to Football Kenya Federation (FKF) by dismissing an application by Milton Nyakundi and other interested parties that sort to have the federation’s bank accounts frozen, assets and properties safeguarded until elections are held.

On March 17, SDT had ruled that the FKF National Executive Council (NEC) term in office had ended and thereafter Nyakundi filed an application seeking orders to freeze FKF bank accounts and all its assets and properties protected, arguing they were in danger of vandalism due to the vacuum.

In a ruling delivered on Thursday via Zoom, SDT Chairperson John Ohaga, however, dismissed the application.

Another application filed by interested parties had argued that the NEC and FKF President Nick Mwendwa were in contempt of court as they continued to operate and work for FKF despite the earlier ruling but Ohaga dismissed it.

“There is no concrete evidence that the NEC members have continued to work. Nick Mwendwa, as per the constitution of FKF, should continue serving until elections are held,” Ohaga read part of the ruling.

FKF CEO Barry Otieno could, however, land in trouble as Ohaga directed that a letter he allegedly wrote to Fifa asking them to protect the federation from the SDT is being investigated by National Security Agencies.

Otieno has been on record denying writing the letter and has signed an affidavit to that effect. If found guilty of lying to the tribunal, he could face “imprisonment of not more than seven years” as revealed by Ohaga during the ruling.

“A full investigation to unearth the authenticity of the letter by relevant authorities will commence. If found guilty of perjury, the penalty for false declaration term is imprisonment not exceeding 7 years,” Ohaga read.

“We had called for a round table discussion by stakeholders, potential candidates and other interested parties and this will come for mention on 2nd June 2020. This is to see how best to convene this round table. It is under the jurisdiction of the SDT to assist parties set up alternative dispute resolution mechanisms,” he said.

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Rudisha undergoes surgery after nasty injury

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By BERNARD ROTICH

World 800 metres record holder David Rudisha is recovering at St Luke’s Hospital in Eldoret after undergoing surgery on Thursday for an ankle fracture.

According to a statement from One4One Sports Marketing and Management, Rudisha sustained the injury after twisting his left ankle at his rural home in Kilgoris, Narok County, on May 19.

“During a walk on his compound, the 31-year-old stepped on uneven ground and initially believed it was not a serious injury,” read the statement in part. “He continued with training that would cause further harm on his ankle but after lack of improvement over the weekend he underwent an examination and was diagnosed with an ankle fracture at St Luke’s Hospital in Eldoret.”

According to his surgeon and Team Kenya lead doctor Victor Bargoria, the injury – which he described as Supination External Rotation – was a fracture on the left ankle. He fixated it with a 1/3 tubular plate and 3.5mm screws.

The statement further said that Rudisha, who was preparing for his third consecutive Olympics next year, will be out for training for 12 to 16 weeks and could return to training in September.

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Speaking to Nation Sport on phone Bargoria said Rudisha was in stable condition.

“The patient is in good condition and I will be seeing him again today (Thursday) before we now start rehabilitation and within some few weeks he should be fine,” said Bargoria.

During the 2012 Summer Games in London, Rudisha clocked 1:40.91 breaking the world record (1:41.11) previously held by Danish Wilson Kipketer.

In 2016, Rudisha defended his Olympics title in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil after winning in 1:42.15.

In an earlier interview with Nation Sport, Rudisha was optimistic that he will be in good shape to participate in the Tokyo Olympics Games which were postponed to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was expecting to come back this year in a big way but again the virus halted my plans but we just have to wait. My injury had healed and my medical specialist had given me a clean bill of health,” said Rudisha who is managed by Mitchell Boeting.

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Toulouse join Lyon, Amiens in appealing to top French court

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By AFP

TOULOUSE, FRANCE

Toulouse have joined the growing number of clubs appealing the way the season ended by taking the French league to the country’s highest administrative court, regional media reported on Thursday.

Toulouse, last in Ligue 1 when play was halted by the coronavirus have appealed to the Council of State, La Depeche du Midi said.

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The club has consistently refused to confirm whether it is appealing but in two emails sent on Tuesday to sponsors and supporters and posted online, it acknowledged that they had been dead last in the table but said they were obliged to “assert” their “rights”, without mentioning the court.

Amiens, 19th in the table and also relegated, and Lyon, who were seventh and missed European football, have already lodged appeals. Ajaccio, left just outside the promotion places in Ligue 2, are reportedly also planning legal action.

The last Ligue 1 games were on March 8. At the urging of the government, the league board voted on April 30 to declare the season over with, for most Ligue 1 teams, 10 rounds of matches to play.

Toulouse, bottom for many months and with only three wins and 13 points from 28 games, were 14 points from potential safety.

Amiens were 10 points better off, but still four points away from the lifeline of a playoff spot.

The league ranked teams by the ratio of points won to games played, but that did not change any of the placings in the final table.

“The Board of Directors of the Professional Football League saw fit to act on April 30, 2020, to relegate our club to Ligue 2 on the basis of a provisional ranking established 10 rounds from the end,”

Toulouse said in an email about next season’s ticket prices on Tuesday.

“This may have surprised some people, but we have made a conscious decision to contest this decision. It is our responsibility to defend sporting fairness and to assert our rights, despite our 20th place.”

Earlier, Amiens also insisted they had been victims of an injustice.

“Amiens are still fighting against this decision which we find unfair, incoherent and unfounded,” Amiens president Bernard Joannin told AFP.

While the league decided to confirmed the two automatic relegations and promotions, it scrapped the playoff between the 18th team in Ligue 1 and a second-division club.

Ajaccio, along with the two clubs just behind it in Ligue 2, appealed to the French Olympic Committee but lost.

The Corsican club responded by saying: “We maintain that AC Ajaccio are destined to play in Ligue 1 next season.”

A first hearing of the supreme court is scheduled for June 4.

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