Atletico Madrid players will accept a 70 per cent pay cut during the coronavirus crisis to protect the salaries of 430 non-playing staff, the LaLiga club have confirmed.

Atleti's measures mirror those taken by Barcelona and Real Madrid in response to the State of Emergency declared in Spain, where the death toll attributed to COVID-19 has surpassed 10,000.

A club statement on Thursday confirmed they would present a Temporary Employment Regulation File (ERTE) to enshrine a 70 per cent decrease in wages for players with Atletico Madrid B and Atletico Madrid Women, along with Diego Simeone's squad.

Additionally, all first-team players have signed an internal agreement that maps out two different scenarios depending on how the 2019-20 season concludes.

The statement read: "The filing will mean a 70 per cent reduction in the salaries of technicians and players of the men's first team, the women's first team and Atletico de Madrid B, while the declaration of the State of Emergency lasts.

"From the outset, the club's objective in studying possible measures to deal with this delicate situation has been to minimise its effect on the salaries of its employees as much as possible. 

"The agreement reached with the first team will also allow [for] supplementing the salary of 430 employees affected by the ERTE, a complement from which only players and coaches from professional teams are excluded. 

"To make this possible, the first squad will contribute half the necessary amount and the members of the club's management committee, made up of the chief executive and the directors of the different areas, the other half. "

Atletico lie sixth in the standings of a suspended LaLiga, while their final outing before football's continent-wide shutdown was a thrilling 3-2 extra-time victory over Liverpool at Anfield – sealing a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 4-2 aggregate triumph.

Carlos Tevez believes professional footballers at the highest level should offer to cut their wages amid the coronavirus crisis.

Like the rest of the world's elite players, Boca Juniors star Tevez is on hiatus after the domestic season in Argentina was suspended.

Barcelona's squad have all taken a 70 per cent wage cut to ensure the club can continue to operate during Spain's state of emergency, while players such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski have all made donations to support charities and organisations battling the spread of COVID-19.

Premier League club Newcastle United, Tottenham, Norwich City and Bournemouth have put non-playing staff on furlough to take advantage of a scheme recently introduced by the British government, while discussions between the top flight, the English Football League (EFL), League Managers Association (LMA) and Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) are continuing over whether players in England should take wage cuts.

Former Manchester United and Manchester City forward Tevez has now weighed in, insisting players should be able to support themselves without being paid in full.

"A footballer can live six months or a year without receiving [wages]," Tevez said on America TV in Argentina.

"We are not in the same despair as those who live with kids every day, who have to leave their house at six in the morning and return at seven in the evening to feed the family. 

"We are not an example in this case; yes in other things. We have to be there and help. It is easy for me to speak from home, knowing that I have food for my children. 

"But desperate people, who cannot move and cannot leave the house. That is worrying."

Tevez also insisted clubs must do everything to support their communities.

"The clubs have to get involved. Instead of going to train in the morning, they [should] demand that you do things for the people," he said. 

"For example, go to the dining rooms in La Boca. I would be delighted to go. I know that my family is fine.

"That's where the great example begins. You can make videos, like me at home from my living room, but the great example would be that we all go out and help."

Tevez hopes one positive impact of the pandemic will be people becoming more supportive of each other, regardless of wealth.

"There are no shirts here. Social class does not matter. We all want to help," he added.

"Hopefully the world will be more supportive. We are realising that we are all the same. Hopefully we grow as a society and tomorrow this has changed the world for good. This virus teaches us that. Hopefully it is for the good and that we are all one and come out of this together."

Isolation units and Coronavirus checkpoints at cricket grounds could see the West Indies still making the trip to that country for closed-door games.

The West Indies were scheduled to start a three-Test duel with England at T/he Oval, Edgbaston, and Lord’s on June 4 until the rapid spread of COVID-19 across Europe threatened to derail those plans.

The ECB and Cricket West Indies have been trying to come up with solutions to keep what is expected to be a lucrative series alive.

According to reports, the ECB is stepping up plans to resume cricket in June, but with no spectators, but that broadcasting would still go ahead since that was safer and that is where the majority of money to be earned from the series would be in any case.

The approach, ECB Director of Special Projects, Steve Elworthy, explained that any approach involving re-starting cricket in England would mean creating a sterile environment, safe for players and staff.

Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi is feeling perfect after recovering from the coronavirus.

Hudson-Odoi tested positive for the virus last month, one of the events alongside the diagnosis of Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta that led to the Premier League going into shutdown.

However, the 19-year-old only experienced minor symptoms.

"I am feeling perfect," he told Chelsea's official website. "I had the virus, which has cleared now. I fully feel good, I feel fit, so I am feeling back to myself so it is all good.

"I had it [the illness] three weeks ago now I think, on a Monday when I felt a bit hot and I was thinking this is a bit unusual, why do I feel this hot.

"The next day I was feeling back to normal. I thought it was just a minor temperature thing, but obviously it wasn't. I said to myself this wasn't actually that bad, the symptoms, and I said to myself I feel good, I feel better.

"Everything is happening so fast and I did not know this virus would be such a major thing and so big in the world and affect so many people.

"Everyone has to be careful and judge things how they go and hopefully the virus will go soon and everyone will be back to normal."

As part of football's response to the coronavirus pandemic, Euro 2020 has been pushed back 12 months – something of a motivating factor for England international Hudson-Odoi, who has struggled for form and fitness at times this season.

"For me it is an opportunity to show again and keep pushing myself to the max to hopefully have an opportunity to go to the Euros," he added

"The Euros is a massive thing and I have big belief in myself and hopefully I will be able to get into the team.

"I just want to make sure that I keep pushing myself every game and every minute, making sure that I keep trying to score goals and make assists and keep trying to help the team as much as possible to get what we want, which is a trophy at the end of the day."

The hosts of the various big events in the world of sports have been missing the point over and over for the last three months, much like many governments have.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has inch by inch, ground sports to a halt all over the world and looming events have had to be either cancelled or postponed as it becomes clear that the word ‘pandemic’ is as horrifying as it sounds and the world won’t get over this issue in a few weeks or months as administrators seem to feel.

But even more important than that, these administrators seem to feel that whether or not an event can go on, depends on the environment at the event.

But I suggest there is more to it than that.

The Olympics, for instance, in Tokyo, Japan, seemed to hinge on whether or not the island could get its COVID-19 problems under control before the rest of the world would travel to the event.

When it became clear that this would not be the case, the event was postponed.

However, up until that time, even as preparatory events for the Olympics were being cancelled and/or postponed all over the world, the International Olympic Committee had been asking athletes to prepare as if there would still be an event in July of 2020.

That, I believe, was unfortunate, because it meant, even without travelling to meets all over the world, training was putting athletes at risk of contracting the virus.

The danger of picking up the virus becomes even more acute when you consider team sports and how much contact it takes to get one working in unison and performing at a high level.

For that to happen, there needs to be a combination of technical staff, trainers, teammates, and much more. That will up the chances of contracting a virus and therefore it doesn’t matter what is happening at whichever venue in the world, the athletes are at risk.

I am acutely aware that much planning goes into putting on a large event like the Olympics or the UEFA Champions League, and that there is a lot of money riding on the event going ahead as planned.

These considerations, I believe, make decisions grey and not as completely black and white like it might from the outside, however, sports and entertainment being the last to get on board with social distancing was, in my mind, slightly callous.

But that’s just in my mind. These organisers may well have foreseen the financial fallout for the athletes themselves and wanted to save them, for as long as they could, from months without earning in some cases.

Whichever way you see it, the truth is COVID-19 is likely to bankrupt far more people than it kills.

Many of the reports on COVID-19 have also indicated that it hurts people with underlying conditions and the elderly, so the athlete with his fitness at the peak of their value, along with usually being under 40, is not in any real danger.

But how about the person the athletes give it to? And, as was the case of 21-year-old Spanish coach, Francisco Garcia, who knows who has an underlying condition that this virus may attack?

Garcia, a coach at Atletico Portada Alta, found out he had undiagnosed Leukemia, after being admitted to hospital with coronavirus symptoms. By then, it was too late.

How I see it is that people and countries can recover from going broke. It happens all the time.

I’ve never seen anybody recover from being dead.

Cricket West Indies and the England Cricket Board are entertaining the idea of having a series between the two, scheduled for June, behind closed doors.

Hopefully, they think better of it in short order.

Jamaican international Shamar Nicholson paints a frustrated image from his home in the Belgian city of Charleroi.

Nicholson, a former Boys’ Town footballer, transferred from the Red Stripe Premier League and now plies his trade in Belgium’s Jupiter League.

Charleroi, for whom he plays, are currently third in the league but its suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic has left him in a difficult place.

“[…] it’s a difficult situation as it’s not vacation time and I’m not used to not playing football now in season time, it feels so weird,” said Nicholson in an interview with Jamaican newspaper, The Gleaner.

The 23-year-old is keeping in shape while the league is suspended courtesy of a personal trainer and a programme the club has written for his daily exercise at home, but that is not enough.

“I’m in Charleroi and when you go out, you don’t see people outside, you hear no noise, nothing, it’s so weird. It has affected the whole country and, as we speak, it’s affecting the whole world and now it’s football season and there is no football, it’s just staying home and you get so tired of staying home, even though training is hard,” said Nicholson.

Nicholson had scored nine goals for Charleroi before the forced break, with just one player having scored more for his side.

There was just one game remaining in the regular season by the time COVID-19 fears put an end to football in Belgium, with Charleroi in third place, one point of a Champions League spot.

Nicholson wants the league to play that one remaining regular season game, even if there are no playoffs to come after.

“It would mean so much to me if the team should qualify automatically for the Champions League, it would mean a lot,” he said.

The man who has scored seven goals in 18 appearances for Jamaica believes that the re-start of all the leagues around the world will be tough because teams usually develop momentum along the way as the players become more match ready as the season progresses.

Because of the break, he says, there was no way of telling which teams would start quickly.   

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Lionel Messi agreed with pay cuts at the LaLiga champions, after the captain criticised senior club figures behind the scenes.

Barca confirmed a massive wage cut to help the club during the coronavirus pandemic, with players agreeing to reduce their salaries by 70 per cent and making further financial contributions to ensure all employees are able to take home the full value of their wages.

The news came following reports of a disagreement between senior Barca players and club directors over the degree of wage reduction, with Messi denying the squad turned down the team's proposal to reduce salaries.

Bartomeu said Messi never opposed Barca's decision to carry out salary cuts, telling SPORT: "Messi told me from day one that this reduction had to be made.

"This proposal came from the captains. It is a gesture that demonstrates their commitment to the club."

Messi issued a statement on behalf of the players on Monday, which was soon shared by other members of the first-team squad, in which he insisted they had always been happy to reduce their pay in order to help the club and its staff during the nationwide lockdown, with LaLiga under indefinite suspension while Spain attempts to arrest the spread of COVID-19.

The message accused those in charge of Barca of placing the players under unfair levels of scrutiny while negotiations over wage cuts continued.

Bartomeu added: "Perhaps [the players] have been frustrated by things said by people inside and outside the club, who do not have all the information.

"But the negotiations were carried out only by Oscar Grau and me and we have not said anything."

Samantha Wallace, the 2019 Suncorp Super Netball Finals MVP, said she is doing well despite missing her family back home as she waits out the postponement of the league because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The virus has infected close to half a million people in 198 countries globally and killed more than 22,000. There are about 3000 cases in Australia, which prompted the Super Netball League Commission (SNLC) to call a halt for the season for at least the next couple of months.

“Given the rapidly-evolving landscape, the Commission has determined that the start of the season will be deferred and will not commence prior to 30 June,” a statement from the commission said on Monday.

Wallace, the shooter for the New South Wales Swifts, is among several players from Trinidad and Tobago who are in Australia and who are unlikely to be able to travel home since the country has closed its borders in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

However, Wallace said she is doing okay.

“I'm coping extremely well, to be honest. I'm safe, my health is great,” she told Sportsmax.tv.

“It's hard not being with my family and loved ones in this time but everyone back home is healthy and safe.”

However, she concedes that the league on hiatus is proving to be a bit of a challenge.

“It’s weird waking up in the morning and not have training to attend,” she said.

“Looking at the safer side, our health and well-being are way more important than a netball league at the moment. We, the athletes, have to find a way to keep fit in our backyards or wherever as possible.”

She offered words of encouragement in what will be challenging times.

“I see this as an opportunity to spend great quality time with your kids, family. Although I know it's a tough time here because some people are jobless and don't know when they will have a job again, in all I'm just grateful for life.”

When Australia closed its borders to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, Jhaniele Fowler was among the thousands who were unable to leave the Land Down Under.

Jamaica’s Omar McLeod says he is devastated by the news that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed despite the fact that the decision was taken in the best interest of all concerned.

The International Olympic Committee confirmed the move on Tuesday following discussions between its President Thomas Bach, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Games' organisers.

It means that for the first time since the Second World War, the Olympic Games will not go ahead on schedule.

The spread of COVID-19 has halted sport across the globe and it had become apparent that a start date of July 24 for the Olympic Games was too close for comfort.

McLeod, the Rio 2016 110m hurdles champion, says he feels for the athletes who have been preparing for the quadrennial competition.

“I am devastated and truly feel for all us athletes who have been working tirelessly to accomplish the goals we’ve set for this year,” said McLeod who is based in Jacksonville, Florida, with the Tumbleweed track group. “One of those common goals is obviously the Olympic Games.”

Notwithstanding the disappointment, the 2017 World Champion said he is on board with the decision by the IOC to postpone the Games.

“I do understand, though, that our health comes first and we cannot be naive into thinking that this coronavirus pandemic isn’t something serious,” McLeod said.

“So, personally, I do believe that postponing the Games to 2021 is the best solution for all athletes. We just have to stay motivated and keep aspiring. God bless and wash your hands!”

McLeod was the first Jamaican man to win a sprint hurdles gold medal at an Olympic Games.

Elaine Thompson-Herah has expressed disappointment over the reported postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, over the coronavirus pandemic.

The Caribbean Premier League is holding to its intended start date of August 19 amid concerns over the pandemic that has so far seen most sporting activities shut down. For now, they say, the season will proceed as planned.

Noted Jamaica track and field coach Stephen Francis expects collegiate athletes to be hardest hit by the current shutdown surrounding the coronavirus pandemic but insists all is not yet lost.

The rapid onslaught of the infectious disease has seen the postponement or cancellation of sporting events around the globe.  In a bid to halt the spread of the virus, many universities in the United States have closed their doors, with the National Collegiate Athletic Association taking the decision to axe its spring athletics season last week.

Further afield, pressure continues to mount on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Tokyo Games, with the latest news suggesting a decision would be reached in four weeks’ time.  With the universities serving as a home, training base and source of frequent and healthy competition for athletes who may qualify to take part in the Olympics, Francis believes they will be hardest hit.  The list could include several Jamaicans. 

“The biggest problem I see is the NCs (NCAA) because that is where you have the most breakthroughs, so to speak, and that’s cancelled,” Francis told RJR Sports.

“Those athletes can’t even train because their coaches are gone home and the universities are closed, so most of them are without a coach,” he added.

“But by and large for most of the world much hasn’t changed, people still, for the most part, can do their workouts; they can’t compete but it’s up to the coaches to devise methods for substituting for competition.”

Francis believes, however, that athlete should not worry about missing out on the Olympics Games if it is cancelled, as there would still be opportunities to shine. 

“Every year you have people that make a breakthrough, but I don’t think you need the Olympics to make a breakthrough.  You can make a breakthrough so long as there are meets to be run."

Francis has coached the likes of Olympics and world champion medallists Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Melanie Walker, Brigitte Foster-Hylton and Asafa Powell.

 

 

Olympics-bound Trinidadian Kwesi Browne is recovering well after he was diagnosed with the Coronavirus Covid-19 on Monday, an official of the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation confirmed on Friday.

World Championship silver medallist Fedrick Dacres is all for the cancellation of the ISSA Boys’ and Girls’ Athletic Championships in favour of social distancing and helping to slow the spread of COVID-19, which has already claimed one life in Jamaica.

Despite the paramount importance of keeping healthy, Dacres understands the sacrifice athletes make to attend the high school showpiece event and is especially saddened for those who are in their final year of eligibility.

“I definitely feel it for them because they will never experience this again but I guess it’s in precaution for the whole corona situation but I know, if it was me, I’d be really hurt and they won’t have the experience so they can talk about it and everything but I guess, you know, it’s for the best,” said Dacres.

The athlete was speaking last week at the UWI Invitational after the event was controversially cancelled when the country announced its first Coronavirus confirmation.

That controversy has died a natural death however, as Jamaica has since seen that number balloon to 13 with one death, a 78-year-old man who travelled from New York.

Dacres, interestingly, was a lot less worried about the status of the Olympic Games, saying there isn’t much he could do but continue to prepare for the Games as best as possible.

“I’m a soldier. It’s not really for me to think about my programme and anything like that. It’s more for my coach. Once he has everything down, we’re good to go. Whenever it comes, it comes. We’ll just prepare properly,” he said.

To date, despite the increasing spread of the Coronavirus with more than 200,000 having been afflicted and almost 9,000 deaths, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has continued to play a wait-and-see game regarding making a decision about the Games.

“"The IOC remains fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage; and any speculation at this moment would be counter-productive,” read a statement from the IOC.

That statement went on to implore athletes to continue preparations for the Games in earnest.

Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, has a Coronavirus problem on his hands as well, but insists preparations for the games will not miss a beat and the hope is that the efficiency the country uses to, not only get the virus under control, but to get the venues ready, would convince the IOC that the show must go on.

"We will do our utmost to prepare as scheduled so that the International Olympic Committee will be convinced we are capable of hosting the games," said Abe.

Japan now has 899 cases of COVID-19 with 29 deaths.

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