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Setien keen on Neymar Barca return

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MADRID, Spain, May 23Barcelona boss Quique Setien says he would love to coach Neymar and would be “delighted” if the Brazilian returns to the club from Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca tried to re-sign Neymar last year but were unable to agree a deal with French champions PSG, whom he joined for a world-record fee of 222 million euros ($264 million at the time) in 2017.

An agreement may even harder to strike this summer given the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic, although reportedly Barcelona could offer players in exchange.

“I would love to be able to coach him some day,” said Setien, speaking to beIN Sport late on Friday. “We are talking about an exceptional level. Fortunately I have already fulfilled one of my dreams, which was to coach (Lionel) Messi but I would be delighted if Neymar comes.”

Neymar previously formed a successful attacking trio with Luis Suarez and Messi at Barcelona but Suarez’s future is uncertain.

The 33-year-old has not played since January when he underwent surgery on an injury to his right knee, and Setien admitted he needs more time to regain full fitness with La Liga given the green light by the Spanish government on Saturday to start in the week of June 8.

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Asked if Suarez was fully fit, Setien said: “No, I think he’s in a good condition and has been working with the group. But we see that he lacks a bit of confidence.

“He underwent an operation and after two months I would say he’s still recovering. But it’s clear that soon (he will be ready), I don’t know whether it will be two, three or four weeks.”

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Barcelona sit top of the table, two points ahead of Real Madrid, as La Liga prepares for its return.

La Liga president Javier Tebas has said the preferred date for the season to resume is June 12, which looks increasingly likely following Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s announcement on Saturday.

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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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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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