Don’t rush to restart La Liga, says Real Madrid star Bale

Gareth Bale during a training session. Bale says he wanted to get back into action but felt it wise to wait and see, amid the coronavirus outbreak. (Reuters file photo)
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Updated 25 April 2020

Don’t rush to restart La Liga, says Real Madrid star Bale

  • Warning comes as the Spanish football federation plans tests and a return to training

MADRID: Real Madrid star Gareth Bale says there should be no rush to restart La Liga during the coronavirus lockdown as the Spanish football federation plans tests and a return to training.

Testing players is being discussed with a view to completing the Liga season and thereby avoiding financial disaster, a source said.

Bale said he wanted to get back into action but felt it wise to wait and see.

“Everyone wants to play football, but the most important thing is everyone stays safe, we don’t want to come back too early. We need to make sure everything is done safely so we avoid the second wave of this virus,” Bale said.

The Bundesliga in Germany, where there have been far fewer coronavirus deaths, said on Thursday they are “ready” to restart on May 9 but needed government approval.

Rafael Ramos of the Spanish Association of Football Team Physicians said La Liga is planning to return to action in a series of stages.

“The idea according to La Liga is to test everyone on April 28 and 29,” Ramos said on Spanish radio on Thursday.

FASTFACTS

  • Testing players is being discussed with a view to completing the Spanish season and thereby avoiding financial disaster.
  • La Liga President Javier Tebas said several alternatives for a return to action were being mulled with May 4 slated for the return to training.

He added that the tests would be repeated every three or four days.

La Liga President Javier Tebas said several alternatives for a return to action were being mulled with May 4 slated for the return to training.

“The scenarios we are looking at could see La Liga restart as early as 28-29 May, but could also be 6-7 June or even as late as June 28,” Tebas said, calculating that the move could save Spanish clubs a billion euros in revenue if they complete La Liga and the European competitions.

Whatever Tebas wants, Spain is under a severe lockdown quarantine and is reeling after 22,000 deaths from coronavirus in the country so far.

The Spanish players union (AFE) agree with Welsh winger Bale in his call for prudence.

“Ask yourself if this is really a good idea. Is it safe? isn’t our main concern everybody’s safety?” Diego Lopez the Espanyol goalkeeper said on Wednesday.

Eight Espanyol players are sick with Covid-19.

Barcelona and Spain midfielder Sergio Busquets was also skeptical on the proposed dates.

Separately, two former Real Betis footballers and five former directors of Osasuna have been given prison sentences after being found guilty on Friday of corruption relating to match-fixing in the 2013-14 season in La Liga.

They were among nine people found guilty of conspiring to fix results to help Osasuna avoid relegation from the top flight in 2014, in what the court file said was the first ever sentencing in Spain due to match-fixing. Osasuna still went down after the team finished 18th in the table.

The case found that Osasuna paid Real Betis a total of €650,000 ($702,099), including €400,000 to beat their relegation rivals Real Valladolid and another €250,000 to lose to Osasuna. The fixtures occurred in the final two rounds of the 2013-14 season.

Osasuna director Angel Vizcay was handed the longest sentence of eight years and eight months for sporting fraud, misappropriation of funds and falsifying documents and accounts.

Former Betis players Antonio Amaya and Xavi Torres were each sentenced to one year in prison for sporting corruption, given fines of €900,000 and banned from football for two years.

Former Osasuna directors Miguel Archanco, Juan Antonio Pascual, Jesus Peralta and Sancho Bandres were also found guilty, as well as real estate agents Cristina Valencia and Albert Nolla.

Betis beat Valladolid 4-3 on the penultimate weekend of the season and then lost to Osasuna 2-1 on the final day.

But results elsewhere meant Osasuna went down with 39 points, along with Real Valladolid on 36 points and already-relegated Betis on 25 points.

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Postponed Tokyo Olympics to cost extra $2.4bn

Updated 50 min 21 sec ago

Postponed Tokyo Olympics to cost extra $2.4bn

  • The extra costs come as officials work to build enthusiasm for the first Games postponed in peacetime,
  • Tokyo 2020 said an additional $1.5 billion would be needed for operational costs related to the delay

TOKYO: The coronavirus-delayed Tokyo Olympics will cost at least an extra $2.4 billion, organizers said Friday, with the unprecedented postponement and a raft of pandemic health measures ballooning an already outsized budget.
The extra costs come as officials work to build enthusiasm for the first Games postponed in peacetime, insisting the massive event can go ahead next year even if the pandemic is not under control.
But more spending, on top of the previous budget of about $13 billion, could further harden public opinion in Japan, where polls this year showed a majority of people think the Games should be postponed again or canceled together.
“Whether it’s seen as too much or that we have done well to contain the costs, I think it depends on how you look at it,” Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told reporters.
“We have done all we can to earn the public’s understanding,” he added.
Tokyo 2020 said an additional $1.5 billion would be needed for operational costs related to the delay, with another $900 million in spending on coronavirus countermeasures.
The dollar figures are calculated at an exchange rate of 107 yen, and the total is around $2.56 billion at today’s rate. The costs look set to rise further, with Tokyo 2020 saying it would also release an additional $250 million in “contingency” funds.

The new spending swells a budget that was set last year at around $13 billion, and will add to disquiet about the cost of the Games after an audit report last year argued the national government was spending significantly more than originally planned.
The extra costs will be split between Tokyo, the organizing committee and the national government. The International Olympic Committee will not be chipping in, but has agreed to waive its sponsor royalty fee for the first time, organizers said.
The unprecedented decision to delay the Games has thrown up a plethora of extra costs, from rebooking venues and transport to retaining the huge organizing committee staff.
And with organizers committed to hosting the Games even if the pandemic remains a threat, extensive safety measures will be needed.
Tokyo 2020 this week released a 54-page plan they said would make it possible to hold the Games, including restrictions on athletes touching and fans cheering, and an infection control center in the Olympic Village.
Organizers have tried to scale back elements of the Games, offering fewer free tickets, scrapping athlete welcome ceremonies and making savings on mascots, banners and meals, but so far they have cut just $280 million in spending.
And on Thursday, they said 18 percent of Olympic tickets sold in Japan will be refunded, with domestic fans demanding their money back on about 810,000 of the 4.45 million tickets sold in the country.


Organizers hope to now resell those tickets, and demand for seats at the Games was high before the pandemic.
But enthusiasm has since waned, with a poll in July revealing that just one in four people wanted to see the event held in 2021, and most backing either further delay or cancelation.
Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said the spending plan was carefully considered and he hoped people would accept it.
“If you have a drink, you could say your glass is half-full, or half empty. It depends on how you look at it,” he told reporters.
“There’s a rationale behind this plan. I hope the Japanese people will understand it.”
Tokyo 2020’s final price tag has been hotly disputed, with an audit report last year estimating the national government spent nearly 10 times its original budget between 2013-2018.
Organizers countered that the estimate included items not directly related to the Games.