Daily Express

CHAOS Latest impacts of the virus on sport


England have instigated a ‘ selfie ban’ with fans travelling to support them in Sri Lanka. The move is a part of a wider plan from the touring party to keep social interactio­n to a minimum as they try to ensure they do not succumb to the virus. Handshakes between squad members have long since disappeare­d, but this now extends to the opposition with a ‘ fist bump’ the most contact permitted.

Surrey have called off their pre- season training camp at the ICC Academy in Dubai. They were expected to fly out to the United Arab Emirates on the Tuesday before returning to London on March 28 ahead of the domestic season.

Juventus and Italy centre- back Daniele Rugani has tested positive for coronaviru­s, as has Timo Huebers, who plays for Hannover 96 in the German second division.

Spain’s Copa del Rey final between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad has been postponed. The match was due to take place on April 18 at Seville’s La Cartuja Stadium.

The French League Cup final between PSG and Lyon on April 4 has been postponed.

Next week’s Hero Indian Open and August’s Czech Masters have joined this week’s Kenya Open and April’s Maybank Championsh­ip and China Open in falling victim to concerns over the spread of the virus. With no regular European Tour events in the fortnight before the Masters, it means an eight- week gap between the staging of the Qatar Masters in Doha and the next regular event in Spain.

Next weekend’s European Throwing Cup in Leiria, Portugal has been postponed.

THE KEY is the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Football has still not fully worked out how to cope with playing a full World Cup in the middle of the European winter.

Nor is it on top of the fast- developing health crisis, which was last night labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organizati­on.

At the moment some games go ahead while others are postponed, including Manchester City’s clash with Arsenal, above. Matches in close proximity can be played in full stadiums or behind closed doors.

There is only one sensible solution.


Nobody wants some teams burdened with fixture congestion because they are in isolation while their rivals carry on. Moreover, how could titles and trophies be handed out in empty grounds? It would kill the whole nature of football as a spectacle.

Mass congregati­ons are a big part of the problem. Football can take a responsibl­e lead in fighting the disease by postponing games rather than hiding them away and fans will not miss out on anything.

Broadcaste­rs will still have an appetite for football and, hopefully, as the virus is controlled there will be chances this summer, subject to local government approval, for money- spinning games that the club owners love ahead of a more controlled resumption.


Nine games to go, the players refreshed, plenty to play for on an even keel in front of packed terraces. Domestic leagues and cups and the last rounds of the European competitio­n could all be wrapped up before the middle of November – with time even to sprinkle in some internatio­nal football.

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