England players given advice after JFA president tests positive for coronavirus

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England Women’s players and management have been offered reassurance and advice after two members of staff went into self-isolation following contact with the president of the Japan Football Association.

No member of Phil Neville’s squad or staff which travelled to the SheBelieves Cup in the United States earlier this month is currently displaying symptoms.

But the two people affected are following public health guidance after meeting JFA chief Kozo Tashima, who has since tested positive for coronavirus.

England played in the SheBelieves Cup earlier this month
England played in the SheBelieves Cup earlier this month (Sam Hodde/AP)

“He had, however, been in contact with two FA staff members who are currently asymptomatic and will be following the public health guidance to self-isolate for 14 days.

“The health and safety of all staff and players under our care is our top priority and our medical team has today contacted all those involved in the recent tournament to offer reassurance and advice.

“At present, no-one associated with the England Women’s senior team is displaying symptoms of Covid-19.”

FIFA has also donated 10 million US dollars – around £8.5million – to the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

President Gianni Infantino said: “This exceptional situation requires exceptional measures and decisions.”

The English Football League has announced a £50million short-term relief package to assist cash-strapped clubs.

Finance was key among the topics discussed at Wednesday’s EFL Board meeting, when a plan to help ease the financial burden was agreed.

In a statement, the competition said: “As part of the League’s continued contingency planning, the board heard the comments and observations from EFL clubs, before discussing a number of issues including the current financial position and implications, insurance, regulatory matters and broadcasting arrangements.

“Discussions centred on financial relief for clubs in the short term and while there is no one single solution, measures are to be put in place to immediately assist with cash flow via a £50million short-term relief package.”

Football is also suspended in Scotland and Hearts owner Ann Budge has taken cost-cutting steps amid financial fears, asking players and staff to take a 50 per cent wage decrease.

She said in a statement on the club’s official website: “In order to try to prevent a staff redundancy programme and to protect as many jobs as possible, I am proposing to implement a club-wide salary reduction programme.

Ann Budge has started to take action at Hearts
Ann Budge has started to take action at Hearts (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“Staff and players alike, who feel unable or unwilling to accept this revision to their contracts, will, of course, be offered the option of contract termination.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal’s players remain on course to return to training next Tuesday after head coach Mikel Arteta tested positive for the illness last week, a major factor in the Premier League’s decision to cancel all fixtures until April 3 at the earliest.

In line with government advice, all Arsenal players and backroom staff entered a 14-day self-isolation period due to working in such close proximity to Arteta, who is understood to be feeling better and in good spirits.

Blues owner Roman Abramovich has pledged to cover the costs of accommodation for an initial two-month period, with the west London club prepared to give over the whole hotel if required.

The club also confirmed that Callum Hudson-Odoi is making “great progress” in his recovery from coronavirus.

The England winger tested positive for Covid-19 last week and Chelsea closed their Cobham training centre on Thursday night.

It has partially reopened since, but club staff who had close contact with Hudson-Odoi will continue to self-isolate according to government guidelines.

Manager Frank Lampard said: “I’m happy to say that, in Callum’s case, he has made great progress and almost feels his usual self, which is obviously the news we all want to hear.”

Crystal Palace have assured staff that anyone affected by Covid-19 will still receive full pay instead of statutory sick pay.

Chairman Steve Parish has also declared that matchday staff who have lost work due to the suspension of the Premier League will not be left out of pocket.

John Obi Mikel has had his Trabzonspor contract terminated by mutual consent after using Instagram to protest against matches in Turkey being played despite the ongoing pandemic.

Mikel’s post received support from Radamel Falcao, who plays for Turkish club Galatasaray. Falcao replied: “You are right John. The life is more important than football.”

The ATP and WTA extended the suspension of the tennis season until June 7.

Padraig Harrington is confident the Ryder Cup will go ahead
Padraig Harrington is confident the Ryder Cup will go ahead, Adam Davy/PA

“September is a long way off so there’s no change to the situation at all at this stage,” the three-time major winner told The Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show on Today FM.

South African golfer Victor Lange has tested positive for the virus in his homeland, just over a week after returning from the Estrella Del Mar Open in Mexico.

“He was tested on March 15 as part of a precautionary measure when he escorted a friend to a doctor’s office for a non-COVID19-related appointment,” read a statement from the PGA Tour.

Eddie Hearn is confident Billy Joe Saunders’ blockbuster showdown against Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez will take place provided the pandemic does not eat into boxing’s summer schedule.

However, the prestigious Le Mans 24 hour race in June has been put back until September, while Formula One’s governing body has brought forward its planned three-week summer shut-down from August to a period to be determined between now and the end of August.

Coe, who refused to rule out the Games starting on July 24 as planned, told the Times: “Some countries that are coming into this later are going to be dealing with these issues closer to Tokyo.”

His comments came after Great Britain’s heptathlon world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson was among those to speak out on Tuesday, questioning advice from the IOC asking them to prepare “as best they can” for the Games.

Johnson-Thompson said in a social media post: “I feel under pressure to train and keep the same routine, which is impossible.”

But the IOC said: “This is an exceptional situation which requires exceptional solutions.”

The Artistic Gymnastics All-Around World Cup event scheduled to take place in Tokyo next month – an Olympic Test event – has been cancelled, while the Leeds round of the World Triathlon Series, due to take place on June 6 and 7, has been postponed.

Great Britain’s ice hockey matches against Hungary next month are also off.

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