Gordon Taylor insists Premier League players are not stupid in the row over pay cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic and described the intervention by health secretary Matt Hancock as "astonishing".

Hancock last week urged top-flight players in England to do their part and doubled down on his comments in an interview on Sunday.

Wayne Rooney, Gary Neville and Gary Lineker have been among the high-profile figures stating it is unfair for footballers to be singled out during the debate over salary reductions.

Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chief executive Taylor was shocked by Hancock and insists players are simply demanding clarification on where any money they sacrifice will go.

His comments came after the PFA pointed out the loss of tax contributions that will occur if players agree with the Premier League's proposal for a 30 per cent pay cut.

Taylor told the Telegraph: "I found it astonishing that Matt Hancock could come out like that when he's got his own issues with trying to get the necessary protective health equipment for our NHS workers and didn't have the tests in place either.

"I think if they [the clubs] can't do that [provide details on where the money will go] and explain the position fully then they have every right to expect players to mistrust what is happening."

On whether players were concerned about that point specifically, Taylor added: "Exactly that. They want the complete due diligence. 

"They're not stupid. They've not just got their brains in their feet. They want to know the reasons for it and where it's going."

Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker and the Cleveland Cavaliers' Andrew Drummond reached the quarter-finals of the NBA 2K20 charity tournament on Sunday.

With the NBA postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, a charity tournament has been put together to raise money in support of COVID-19 relief efforts.

Winner of the single-elimination Xbox One tournament will receive $100,000 to give to charity, and Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant – the top seed – was a high-profile casualty on Friday.

Fifth seed Booker defeated Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets 85-75 in the opening round, while sixth seed Drummond crushed former Golden State Warriors center DaMarcus Cousins 101-49.

Rui Hachimura of the Washington Wizards topped Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell 74-71 and Los Angeles Clippers center Montrezl Harrell eased past Indiana Pacers star Domantas Sabonis 73-51.

The quarters are now set, with Harrell to meet Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr., who stunned Durant on Friday.

Booker will play Hachimura, Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young takes on Suns center Deandre Ayton and Drummond goes head-to-head against Clippers guard Patrick Beverley.

The tournament – being aired on ESPN – will continue on Tuesday and conclude on Saturday.

Former Barcelona star Hristo Stoichkov believes it would be fairer to end the LaLiga now, scrap relegation and promote two teams from the second division amid the coronavirus pandemic.

LaLiga has been postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19, which has led to more than 12,640 deaths in Spain and over 69,450 globally.

Reigning champions Barcelona held a two-point lead over bitter rivals Real Madrid when the league was stopped, while Cadiz and Real Zaragoza occupied the promotion places in Segunda Division.

Stoichkov – who won five LaLiga titles and a European Cup among other honours during his time at Camp Nou – feels Barca should be crowned champions if no more games are played in 2019-20.

"If we see how the situation is, with the matches which have been played, it would be fairer to end the La Liga season as it is now," Stoichkov told Cope program Tiempo de Juego.

"Many teams could stay up at the bottom, there are a lot of matches left.

"They could leave the league as it is, have no relegation and the top two from Segunda could get promoted to have a 22 team league. Because they have also done a lot of work to win many matches."

Australian Open semi-finalist and German star Alexander Zverev suspects he contracted coronavirus in December.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the world, with more than 69,300 deaths globally and sport brought to a standstill.

All ATP and WTA tournaments have been called off until mid-July, with Wimbledon cancelled, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Zverev produced his best grand slam performance at the Australian Open, where he reached the semi-finals in January, and the 22-year-old believes he may have been infected prior to the year's opening major in Melbourne.

"My friend Brenda and I were in China on December 28," the world number seven told Bild.

"You can't imagine how I coughed for a month in Australia. I had a fever for two or three days and I coughed for five or six hours. Brenda too. We didn't know what it was. It was a cough that I never had. I had no pain, but I coughed continuously every 10 seconds.

"I had no pain, but I coughed continuously every ten seconds."

Hellas Verona president Maurizio Setti said Italy is in a "war-like situation" as Serie A clubs try to strike a deal with players amid the coronavirus crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought sport to a standstill – the 2019-20 Serie A season has been suspended since last month, with the most recent match on March 9.

There have been more than 69,300 deaths globally, with over 15,880 of those in Italy, a country which has the highest amount of fatalities in the world.

Amid negotiations with the Italian Players' Association (AIC) over player salaries during the league postponement, Setti told Sky Sport Italia: "Our position is very simple.

"We are in a war-like situation, so we need to sit around a table with calm, intelligence and openness, finding a solution that satisfies both parties.

"What's happening is immensely damaging for the whole world of football, so I trust there will be no problems finding a deal with my players, who are good people."

Serie A clubs could be allowed to finish the 2019-20 season as late as October, according to Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina.

Gravina said the proposed date of May 17 to restart Serie A remains a possibility, but he insisted it would be best to allow 2019-20 to finish much later this year if necessary, rather than declare the season cancelled.

"I hope to play again this season," Setti added. "Finishing the campaign would be a way also of giving joy to the population, because the Italian people are so in love with this sport.

"I hope that we can get the campaign concluded and be able to close this chapter to slowly get back to normality."

 

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is donating 10,000 N95 masks to distribute amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Irsay made the announcement via Twitter on Sunday, with the masks to be donated to Indiana State Department of Health.

The 60-year-old wrote: "We must fight and fight WE MUST! We must win and WIN WE MUST! We must fight for, protect, Inspire and pray for every Hoosier that draws a breath in faith or in doubt!

"In UNITY NOTHING can defeat us! HOOSIER POWER AND UNITY......#AmericanLiberty."

COVID-19 is wreaking havoc globally, with more than 69,300 deaths and over 1, 200,300 confirmed cases.

In the United States, the death count has exceeded 9,500, while confirmed cases have climbed above 334,700.

Coronavirus has brought sport to a standstill across the world, including the NBA, NHL and MLB.

However, the NFL is hopeful the 2020 season will get underway as scheduled in September.

 

Bayern Munich will train "in small groups" on Monday after the club confirmed Hansi Flick's first-team squad would follow the German government's guidance on coronavirus precautions.

The Bundesliga was suspended on March 13 initially until April 2, but a meeting of clubs on March 31 extended the suspension to April 30 at the earliest.

A statement on Bayern's official website on Sunday urged supporters to stay away from the training ground as the players return to work.

"The FC Bayern Munich first team will return to training at Sabener Strasse in small groups from Monday, 6 April," said the statement.

"This will be done in coordination with government policy and the relevant authorities. It goes without saying that all hygiene regulations will be strictly observed."

Bayern are top of the Bundesliga table, four points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund.

The club's return to training is in line with the Deutsche Fussball Liga's (DFL) recommendation that teams take a break from training until April 5.

Bayern's statement continued: "Training will take place with no members of the public present.

"In order to further slow the spread of the coronavirus, FC Bayern asks fans to continue to follow the instructions of the authorities and therefore please do not come to the FC Bayern training ground."

Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot said the coronavirus pandemic has affected the club "in the heart" following the death of club doctor Bernard Gonzalez, who French newspaper Le Parisien reported committed suicide after contracting COVID-19.

The Ligue 1 club posted a poetic tribute to the 60-year-old on Sunday, describing Gonzalez – who was said to be isolating with his wife after testing positive for the virus – as "a man of science and literature, with inexhaustible curiosity".

Reims' mayor, Arnaud Robinet, called Gonzalez a "collateral victim of COVID-19" and suggested the medical professional – who worked with the club for 23 years – had left a note.

The club's statement did not confirm the circumstances surrounding Gonzalez's death, instead paying tribute to the man and his passions, before Caillot expressed his shock.

In quotes published on Reims' official website, Caillot said: "Words fail me, I am stunned, prostrate before this news.

"This pandemic affects Stade de Reims in the heart. This is a personality of Reims and a great professional of the sport who left us.

"His mission to the club of more than 20 years has been carried out with the utmost professionalism, in a passionate and even selfless manner."

Milan chief executive Ivan Gazidis has said Italian football must show compassion through the coronavirus pandemic before restoring "hope and joy" when normal life returns.

Italy has suffered more deaths than any other country, with over 15,000 lives lost so far and close to 130,000 confirmed cases.

Sport in the country is on hold, as part of the lockdown enforcement, and football might not resume for many months to come.

Gazidis addressed Milan supporters from his home on Sunday, speaking of "this tragedy that has hit all of us" and praising doctors and nurses, police, public transport officials and supermarket workers who risk exposure.

Gazidis said Milan's players and staff would only return to work "once things are safe", and noted club officials were working to "provide meaningful assistance" to the community.

He expressed the hope Milan could become "stronger than ever" after the COVID-19 global disaster, also promising the Rossoneri would "not forget the heroes of these times" when sport resumes.

Gazidis said Milan would, as a club, recover "in a healthy and strong way and we will do so on solid foundations".

"Football is a source of joy, which is very important," he said. "We will do our part in rebuilding hope and joy, the pride and solidarity when we overcome this terrible moment.

"Clubs are not just companies that play football, they have a role in the community and represent values without which football would be nothing.

"We will be remembered for how we behave in these days, we want you to feel that AC Milan is beside you, we want to make you proud."

He added: "Let us stay united in these difficult moments and we will be an even more tightly knit team, once we've overcome this crisis. More human, more united, stronger than ever."

Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer expects a significant decrease in transfer fees following the coronavirus pandemic.

Deals worth in excess of €100million have been commonplace in the past four years, with Neymar becoming the world's most expensive player when he joined Paris Saint-Germain for €222m in August 2017.

Bayern have been more conservative but broke their transfer record by splashing out €80m on Lucas Hernandez last year.

Links to Leroy Sane and Timo Werner led to suggestions the Bavarian giants were willing to break the bank again, but Hainer believes the inflation in the market will have been stemmed by the proliferation of COVID-19.

Revenues have dried up for clubs across the world, with players at Bayern, Barcelona, Juventus and Atletico Madrid among those to take pay cuts while football is on hiatus.

Asked about the potential impact of the coronavirus crisis on transfer fees, Hainer told Bayern's 51 magazine: "As I said, although serious predictions are difficult to make, it's obvious there'll be changes. I agree with Uli Hoeness' assumption that transfer fees will decrease. That's just logical.

"When income decreases, there's less money in circulation. And given the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis on people's everyday lives, outrageous sums in the millions are even less justifiable than they already were.

"My hope is that more common sense will be applied here as well. I have to take my hat off to Hasan Salihamidzic and our sporting leadership. They're handling the coronavirus situation very well."

Bayern players agreed to a 20 per cent wage reduction during the Bundesliga suspension, which is scheduled to last until at least April 30.

Hainer acknowledged the situation has put clubs in precarious financial positions, but he is confident Bayern will be able to get through the crisis without "any major damage".

"Of course, the situation is very tense. It's about the existence of individual clubs. And even FC Bayern faces a major financial challenge – that's no secret," said Hainer.

"But our club is in an excellent position. We work day after day to ensure that FC Bayern can navigate through this phase without any major damage.

"Despite this immense task, we're looking to the future with confidence."

Serie A clubs could be allowed to finish the 2019-20 season as late as October, according to Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina.

Italy's top flight was suspended indefinitely last month due to the spread of coronavirus, and the FIGC stated on Friday that the season would not be resumed until the health and safety of all concerned could in some way be guaranteed.

Italy has been the country hardest hit by COVID-19 in Europe, with close to 129,000 confirmed cases and more than 15,800 deaths, although official figures over recent days have indicated strict lockdown measures are having an effect on the spread of the virus.

Gravina says the proposed date of May 17 to restart Serie A remains a possibility, but he insists it would be best to allow 2019-20 to finish much later this year if necessary, rather than declare the season cancelled.

"It's a hypothesis," Gravina told RAI when asked if a September or October finish had been put forward. "At the moment, a possible date to restart could be May 17, but I want to clarify that this is only a hypothesis.

"Finishing the season would be the best way not only so the 2019-20 season is not compromised, but also to avoid compromising the 2020-21 season in any way."

There are signs Italy's stringent measures to enforce social distancing and limit all non-essential travel are working, with the number of new deaths falling over the past three days, while the rate of confirmed new cases also appears to be going down.

However, prime minister Giuseppe Conte admitted earlier on Sunday that he cannot offer any guarantee when lockdown measures will be eased.

"Right now, I can't say when the lockdown will end. We are following the directions of the scientific committee, but Italy was the first nation [in Europe] to face the emergency," Conte said.

"Our response was maybe not perfect, but we have done our best based on the knowledge we have.

"The validity of the measures we have taken has been recognised by the World Health Organization and the results indicate we're on the right path."

Aritz Aduriz does not see his retirement nor Athletic Bilbao's Copa del Rey final with Real Sociedad as important amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The veteran striker, who has scored 172 goals in over 400 appearances for Athletic, announced his intention to retire at the end of this season back in August.

His final season as a player is set to be marked by an all-Basque Copa del Rey final between Athletic and La Real.

Originally scheduled to take place on April 18 in Seville, the Copa showpiece - along with the vast majority of sport around the world - has been put on hold.

It is not clear when the final will be played. However, Aduriz accepts even an occasion as momentous as the clash with La Real has little significance amid a crisis that has killed over 12,000 people in Spain.

"This coronavirus crisis is forcing us to think twice and consider what matters," Aduriz told Athletic's official website. "And now my retirement, or football in general, or if we will play [the Copa del Rey final] or not doesn't matter.

"I think there are many other more important things to stop and solve. I'm sure with everyone's help together, with each of us playing our role, we will get ahead of it. That's what I'm focused on at this moment and that's the most important thing."

Aduriz was born in San Sebastian, where Real Sociedad hail from, but he expects a respectful reception from their fans if and when the final goes ahead.

He added: "Maybe all of us are keeping in mind the Copa del Rey final, but we're prioritising other things now.

"We're all going through a tough time where many people are struggling a lot and even passing away…so, the final of the Copa has its importance, but maybe not that much now.

"There are other things we need to solve together, and if the day [of the final] finally comes, I'm Donostiarra [people originally from San Sebastian]. I've always felt very comfortable in Donostia [the city's Basque name] and that won't change whatever happens in any football game. I'm sure they will treat me in the same way, no doubt."

Asked about recognition for his achievements from Athletic fans, Aduriz replied: "If we've learned something from this pandemic or virus that we're struggling with, it's that we should think twice about what is important.

"I sincerely believe the people who really deserve a statue and recognition are clear nowadays, and it's not me or any football player.

"I would build a statue to those who are battling every day at the very front line against the virus in all the hospitals. They're showing us what really matters.

"We have to realise what's important and what isn't. And this is probably showing us that football isn't important enough for this kind of recognition."

Ben Foster believes Premier League clubs must commit to a blanket policy on pay cuts during the coronavirus pandemic, or else it could "get a bit messy".

The topic of footballers' salaries is in the spotlight after health secretary Matt Hancock suggested players in the top flight should make a contribution to help during the health crisis.

The Premier League called for players to take a 30 per cent pay cut in a statement released on Friday, though the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) responded by pointing out such a move would lead to a loss in important revenue via tax contributions.

Watford goalkeeper Foster revealed there is an "understanding" from players that something needs to be done during these unprecedented times, but said any action - whether through salary cuts or wage deferrals - should come as a united front.

"Pretty much every footballer I've spoken to... I think it is something we understand, we completely agree that something needs to be done," Foster told talkSPORT.

"But from a player's point of view, and I’m sure the PFA will be talking about it today. As long as it is done in a structured manner.

"It is important to cover every team with the same [policy], whether it's a deferral or a cut, so that we are all under the same blanket.

"Now, more than ever, it is so important that we do this together. When you start getting teams doing their own individual wage cuts or deferrals, that's when it starts to get a bit messy.

"I know from talking to everyone at Watford that we are understanding that this needs to happen.

"Something like this is unprecedented. No one knows where it's going or how hard it's going to be. If we can do something in the meantime, you've got to do it."

The Premier League season is suspended indefinitely due to the virus, though there remains a commitment to completing the 2019-20 fixtures.

West Brom chief executive Mark Jenkins will give up 100 per cent of his salary for the duration of English football's suspension during the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the Championship club remain "financially stable" for the foreseeable future, Jenkins has volunteered to give up his wages and says several other members of the senior management will take "significant" cuts to personal income.

West Brom will also pay the additional 20 per cent of staff salaries if the club are forced to take advantage of the government's furlough scheme, which guarantees 80 per cent of worker wages up to £2,500 a month if businesses are unable to operate as normal.

The announcement from the Baggies, who were second in the Championship before 2019-20 was halted, comes two days after the English Football League (EFL) confirmed the season has been postponed indefinitely until it is safe to resume domestic competitions.

"At the moment, the club is financially stable and remains so for the foreseeable future," Jenkins said in a statement published via the club's website.

"But everybody is fully aware these are very uncertain times in which we simply cannot forecast what the future holds. Until we regain a level of certainty, we cannot be sure if planned income will actually be received or if we will be forced to utilise cash the club already holds to refund existing commitments.

"With that in mind, I think it is only correct that for the duration of this lockdown I take a 100 per cent cut in my salary and other members of the senior management team have also offered to take significant reductions in their remuneration.

"Like many other clubs, we have considered using a furlough approach with non-playing staff who are now unable to work owing to the lockdown and we have made plans for this eventuality.

"At present we have not been required to sanction this action, but if the lockdown continues and football remains 'on-hold' then this decision may have to be changed. What we will pledge is to ensure none of the staff effected [sic] suffer a reduction in pay; the club will make up the 20 per cent shortfall not covered by the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

"I should perhaps add at this point that nothing underlines the spirit of our staff, or the commitment they have for Albion, than to tell you that several have volunteered to take pay cuts in order to help the club navigate a way through these difficulties. It says everything about the core values which run through our staff for which I and all the senior management team are both mindful and appreciative."

Jenkins' pledge comes amid criticism of major football clubs, including Tottenham and Premier League leaders Liverpool, for utilising the option to save costs by furloughing staff despite their healthy financial positions.

Premier League stars have been urged to take voluntary pay cuts by UK health minister Matt Hancock, with discussions between club captains said to have taken place this weekend with a view to establishing a charitable foundation into which donated wages can be funnelled.

Fiorentina trio Patrick Cutrone, German Pezzella and Dusan Vlahovic are clear of coronavirus, the Serie A side announced on Sunday.

Vlahovic was the Viola's first confirmed case of COVID-19, with the striker revealing in an Instagram post that his fever at one stage reached 39 degrees.

Fellow forward Cutrone and defender Pezzella also contracted the virus, though all three are "no longer positive" following tests, Fiorentina revealed.

"Fiorentina is delighted to announce that tests have revealed that Patrick Cutrone, German Pezzella and Dusan Vlahovic are no longer positive for COVID-19," the club announced in a statement.

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank the doctors, nurses and hospitals that are continuing to care for all those who require medical attention at this difficult time for Italy and indeed the whole world."

Italy has been hit particularly hard during the global health pandemic, with over 15,000 lives lost in the country.

In response to the outbreak, Fiorentina set up a 'Forza e Cuore' fundraiser that reached the initial target of €500,000 inside three days, with the money used to help buy key materials and equipment.

"Fiorentina is working with the Careggi and Santa Maria Nuova ONLUS foundations through its Forza e Cuore campaign, which has so far raised in excess of €760,000," the Viola announced. 

"The money has been used to purchase key materials and equipment for use in the fight against the pandemic."

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