Coronavirus in sport: NBA and MLB teams take action, Copa del Rey final postponed

By Sports Desk March 11, 2020

Coronavirus continued to make its presence felt across worldwide elite sport on Wednesday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic and major American sports franchises were taking appropriate measures as European football was forced to react once more.

Sports governing bodies have also had their say, with events calendars becoming increasingly fluid.

Here are some of the latest events to be impacted.

In the United States the Golden State Warriors have confirmed their game against Brooklyn Nets on Thursday will be played behind closed doors, making them the first NBA team to make such a move following consultation with the City and County of San Francisco.

This directive also means the San Francisco Giants is working with Major League Baseball to make alternative arrangements after the planned March 24 exhibition game against the Oakland Athletics at Oracle Park was cancelled.

Seattle Mariners are hoping to relocate their opening games of the MLB regular season after Washington governor Jay Inslee announced large group events in the state would be banned throughout March.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) will stage its flagship March Madness basketball tournament "with only essential staff and limited family attendance".

Coronavirus cases in Spain have spiked, and the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has postponed the Copa del Rey final between Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao.

The showpiece fixture was due to take place in Seville on April, with reports suggesting May 30 has been pencilled as a new date.

Barcelona have cancelled training sessions at their La Masia headquarters for the next 15 days, while RFEF has recommended football at all levels beneath the top two professional leagues is called off for two weeks.

In Germany, Eintracht Frankfurt announced Thursday's Europa League game against Basel will take place behind closed doors, while this weekend's derby between Hertha Berlin and Union Berlin will also take place without supporters.

Mainz's clash with Cologne is another of the forthcoming Bundesliga games where fans have been told to stay away.

The Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal became the first football match in England to be postponed as a coronavirus precaution and City are offering refunds on tickets to future fixtures up to and including the day of the game, acknowledging unease among supporters over taking part in large gatherings at this time.

Pep Guardiola's side have matches at home to Burnley and Real Madrid over the coming week.

CONMEBOL, the governing body for football in South America announced Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana matches held in Paraguay will take place behind closed doors, in line with local government advice.

Qatar, which will host the 2022 World Cup, will stage all remaining matches in its domestic football season without supporters, although CAF has decided to maintain its competition schedule unless the WHO declares a country in Africa to be high risk.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has postponed the Fed Cup Finals in Budapest after Hungary's government prohibited public indoor gatherings of more than 100 people.

On their tour of Sri Lanka, the England cricket team have been told to avoid casual interaction with fans, such as selfies and autographs.

Related items

  • 'Extra time helps us prepare for 'difficult' conditions' - WI spinner Cornwall grateful for long lead-up to Test series 'Extra time helps us prepare for 'difficult' conditions' - WI spinner Cornwall grateful for long lead-up to Test series

    West Indies spinner Rahkeem Cornwall believes the unusually long preparation time before the start of the Bangladesh Test series has been beneficial for players needing to get used to ‘difficult’ conditions.

    The regional team arrived in Bangladesh on January 10 and was required to quarantine for 7 days based on the country’s COVID-19 protocols.  Since clearing that hurdle, however, the Test team has been free to train and will not play the match until February 1.

    Bangladesh.

    The Asians are known for being particularly difficult to beat on their home turf and easily dispatched the West Indies 2-0 on their last visit in 2018.  One of those advantages is said to be the team’s pitches.

    “It has helped (extra time) you have to adapt to these conditions. These conditions are difficult to play in, so the more time we get to understand the conditions is the better it is for us,” Cornwall said.

    “It spins a bit more here.  It is always going to be drier than the Caribbean.  So, we just have to adapt to it and play to the best of our ability,” he added.

    The inexperienced West Indies team will be hoping for a better showing than in the recently concluded One Day International (ODI) series where the team was summarily swept aside 3-0.  The ODI batting line-up found the top class Bangladesh spinners on the surfaces a difficult task to cope with.   

  • Chelsea job not too soon for Lampard, who will bounce back - Ancelotti Chelsea job not too soon for Lampard, who will bounce back - Ancelotti

    Frank Lampard did not take the Chelsea job too soon and will make a swift return to management, according to Carlo Ancelotti.

    Chelsea sacked their all-time leading goalscorer Lampard on Monday just 18 months after he arrived from Derby County, where he began his career as a coach one year prior.

    He steered the Blues to a top-four finish in the Premier League and to the FA Cup final, but a run of two wins in eight top-flight games left them 11 points off leaders Manchester United in ninth.

    Ancelotti, who coached Lampard for two years at Stamford Bridge, does not think Lampard was too inexperienced for the role.

    "No, I don't think so," the Everton boss replied when asked if Lampard had taken the Chelsea job too soon. "I think where you start a career as a manager or a player, every career you don't have experience.

    "It's important to have knowledge. I think what Lampard did as a player and what he did as a manager before going to Chelsea, has knowledge of football. When you have knowledge of football you can grow your experience, but everyone that starts a career has no experience.

    "I want to compare to [Juventus coach Andrea] Pirlo. Of course they don't have experience, but experience is not the most important part of your job. The most important part is the knowledge and the management. And after that with the knowledge you can grow, you can improve your experience."

    Ancelotti considers being sacked to be part and parcel of football management and does not think it will take long for Lampard to find another position.

    "It's not unusual that a manager is sacked. Frank Lampard knows this. My personal opinion is that getting sacked is part of our job. We have to understand this," said Ancelotti.

    "I was sacked everywhere, so I have to consider the fact it's part of our job. Frank will soon find another opportunity because he's a good manager. He did well at Chelsea but for the club it was not enough. It's simple.

    "In the end it's not sad news. One door closes and for him that is Chelsea – I understand that Chelsea was his club, he played for them, but for sure he is going to have another opportunity soon."

    Jose Mourinho is the only manager to have led Chelsea for more than two consecutive seasons – he did it in both his stints at the helm – since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

    However, Ancelotti does not consider the Blues to be a tougher place to work.

    "Chelsea is not more difficult than other clubs, it's the same," he said.

    "Every club has expectations and when things aren't going how they like, what are they going to do? They are going to change 20 players? The easiest way is to change the manager.

    "This is what happens in football. All managers know this. We have to consider this part of our job and nothing more."

  • Morris rues Lampard sacking: Chelsea have never had staff who cared more Morris rues Lampard sacking: Chelsea have never had staff who cared more

    Chelsea have never had coaching staff who cared more about the club than the group led by Frank Lampard, according to his assistant Jody Morris.

    Head coach Lampard and Morris were removed from their positions on Monday to make room for Thomas Tuchel, who is on the brink of being appointed at Stamford Bridge.

    Chelsea great Lampard released a statement ruing the fact he was not given more time to turn the situation around, the Blues having slumped to ninth in the Premier League at the halfway stage this season.

    The former England international was nonetheless proud of what he had done to help promote younger players to the first team.

    They were sentiments echoed by Morris, who praised Lampard for working "tirelessly" to improve the squad.

    "I am immensely proud to say I have been stood next to our gaffa Frank Lampard who has worked tirelessly to improve the players and the culture every single day," Morris wrote on Instagram.

    "Us as your staff could not ask for a better leader!!

    "There has never been a bunch in that dugout that cared more inside Stamford Bridge!!

    "I'm even prouder of the work that has gone on day in day out at Cobham in what has been the toughest period anybody has had to face in charge."

    Former Chelsea midfielder Morris – who thanked the fans and owner Roman Abramovich – was also with Lampard at Derby County in the Championship.

    He added: "Yesterday [Monday] was tough to take on all levels.

    "It has hurt twice previously that I've had to leave this great club, but it's been on my terms and both times it was done with the bigger picture for myself and my family in mind.

    "I've always felt lucky to be able to say I've played for the team I've supported since I was a young boy growing up on north end road.

    "Chelsea is and always will be my club no matter what."

    Former Chelsea player Pat Nevin, meanwhile, felt it would have been a difficult decision for Abramovich to take.

    And he is most concerned about the impact on some of the youngsters Lampard brought through.

    "I am desperately saddened to see Frank Lampard leaving the club, but then again who isn't," he wrote on the Chelsea website.

    "I suspect those who made the decision are saddened too. In fact, if you aren't upset at all then you almost certainly aren't a true Chelsea fan.

    "The players need to get their heads right after such a shock.

    "It is going to be a particularly big ask for some of the younger players who have had Frank and his coaching team to thank for their opportunities and who each looked to him as a mentor. 

    "They must be professional now and work with the new coach, but it is undoubtedly a concerning time for them."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.