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PSG to take action after star misses training

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AFP

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Neymar failed to show up for pre-season training with Paris Saint-Germain on Monday with the club announcing they would take “appropriate action”.

In a terse statement, the French champions noted: “On Monday 8 July Neymar da Silva Santos Junior was due to return to pre-season activities with the Paris Saint-Germain senior squad.

“Paris Saint-Germain notes that Neymar Jr was not in attendance at the agreed time and place. This was without the club’s prior authorisation.

“The club regrets this situation and will therefore take appropriate action.”

In Rio, Brazilian media quoted Neymar’s father as saying that PSG “were aware” the striker would be absent.

“The reason (for his no-show) was known and planned for a year as part of his activities for the Neymar Institute (charity foundation),” said Neymar Senior.

He added: “We couldn’t postpone them and he will return (to PSG) on July 15.

“It’s as simple as that, no drama. PSG are aware and take part in the Institute’s activities.”

Neymar left Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain for a world record fee of 222 million euros ($252 million) in August 2017, but could make a surprise move back to Camp Nou this summer.

Last week Barcelona’s vice-president Jordi Cardoner told a press conference: “What is correct, at the current time, what I have read, what I have heard, which seems exact, is that Neymar wants to come back to Barcelona.”

And media reports have indicated that intermediaries between PSG and Barca had hammered out the terms of a deal which would free the Brazilian star to return to his former club.

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Spanish sports newspaper Diario Sport claims a five-year contract has been agreed.

The newspaper said last week the terms include Neymar reducing his salary from around 36 million euros at PSG to the 24 million euros he received at Barca in 2017.

The 27-year-old had spent four years at Camp Nou, winning the Champions League in 2015 and two La Liga titles. He had formed a brilliant attacking trio alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Any return for Neymar would likely require Barca to raise funds through sales. Frenkie de Jong has already signed for 75 million euros from Ajax. Antoine Griezmann is expected to join from Atletico Madrid for 120 million euros, although that deal has hit snags.

On Sunday, Griezmann failed to show up for pre-season at Atletico and the Spanish club, like PSG, threatened to punish their star striker.

Neymar’s time at PSG has been punctured by injury and controversy.

He was questioned by Brazilian police last month over allegations he raped a woman he met through social media in a Paris hotel — charges he has denied.

And the Brazilian star will miss three Champions League matches next season as punishment for insulting a referee following Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League collapse against Manchester United.

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has warned Neymar and his other highly-paid stars that they must shape-up or ship out, claiming “celebrity behaviour” at the French champions will not be tolerated.

“The players will have to assume their responsibilities even more than before,” Al-Khelaifi told France Football.

On Sunday, injured Neymar was watching from the stands as Brazil beat Peru in the Copa America final at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium.

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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.

“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”

With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.

There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.

Rugby Championship

There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.

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That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.

South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.

“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.

‘Seven Nations’

Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?

Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.

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England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.

Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.

Super Rugby

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Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.

The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.

Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.

South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.

‘Pro16’

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.

“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.

But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.

While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.

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Currie Cup

The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.

First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.

But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections

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By NATION REPORTER

Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.

The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.

Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.

Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.

Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.

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