Lionel Messi looking forward eagerly to ‘weird’ La Liga restart after COVID-19 pause

In this Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020 file photo, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Eibar at the Camp Nou. (AP)
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Updated 27 May 2020

Lionel Messi looking forward eagerly to ‘weird’ La Liga restart after COVID-19 pause

  • Messi, who after a few weeks confined like the rest of Spain by the coronavirus pandemic, is training with Barca again
  • Planned resumption of La Liga behind closed doors on the weekend on June 12 looking likely

MADRID: Barcelona and Argentina captain Lionel Messi said he was eager to start playing again but thought La Liga games behind closed doors would feel “weird.”
Messi, who after a few weeks confined like the rest of Spain by the coronavirus pandemic, is training with Barca again ahead of a planned resumption of La Liga behind closed doors on the weekend on June 12.
“We cannot think about what we are leaving behind this year. It is better to think about the future,” said Messi on the website of sports brand Adidas.
“Like going back to day-to-day training, seeing your teammates, playing your first few games. No doubt it will be strange at first, but I am looking forward to competing again!
He said playing without fans “implies a series of challenges. The preparation at squad level is the same as for any other match, but it is true that individually you have to train and get mentally prepared to play without people because it is very weird.”
“It will be like starting over,” he said. “Technically it will be the same season, but I think all teams and players will experience it differently.”
Messi was due to lead Argentina this summer in the Copa America, where his country are joint hosts with Colombia, but in March, the competition was postponed to June and July next year.
“Postponing the Copa America was a huge disappointment, but of course it was reasonable and most logical,” Messi said.
“The Copa was going to be a big event for me this year and I was really looking forward to playing in it again,” he said.
“It was hard when I heard about the postponement, but I understood it perfectly,” he said.


Five players out of French Open qualifying due to COVID-19

Updated 21 September 2020

Five players out of French Open qualifying due to COVID-19

  • The qualifiers will begin later on Monday, with the main draw set to commence on Sept. 27

PARIS: Five players have been withdrawn from the French Open qualifying tournament after two players and a coach tested positive for COVID-19, organizers have said.
The qualifiers will begin later on Monday, with the main draw set to commence on Sept. 27.
“The Roland Garros tournament directors can confirm that two players competing in the qualifying tournament have tested positive for COVID-19 and three others have confirmed close contact with a coach who has tested positive for COVID-19,” the French Tennis Federation (FFT) said in a statement.
“In line with tournament health protocols, the five players will not compete in the qualifying tournament and will self isolate for a period of seven days. In total, some 900 tests have been carried out since Sept. 17.”
Organizers did not reveal the names of those who had been pulled out but Damir Dzumhur said he had been withdrawn because his coach Petar Popović had returned a positive test.
“That’s why I can’t play at Roland Garros and I don’t have a chance to compete,” he wrote on his Instagram account.
“He didn’t get a chance to do a second test and we’re sure he was false positive because my coach has antibodies,” added the Bosnian, who reached the third round in Paris in 2015 and 2018.
The French Open will be held from Sept. 27-Oct. 11 after being moved from its usual late May-June slot.
The FFT is planning to allow 5,000 spectators per day following a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the country. It had previously said the claycourt major would permit a maximum of 11,500 fans per day.