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Mane, Drogba donate to fight Covid-19

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Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (R) has donated $50000 US dollars to the Coronavirus fight in gis country
© AFP/File GEOFF CADDICK

KINSHASA, Congo, Mar 26 – Footballers and musicians have been on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus in Africa, reaching not just for social media to spread awareness of the dangers of the virus but also for the cheque book.

Among the first to step up was Senegalese winger Sadio Mane — a key player in Liverpool’s push for the English Premier League title this year –- who donated Sh5.2 million ($50,000) to his country’s National Medical Commission to fight the deadly microbe.

In Ivory Coast, former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba
gave masks to the cathedral of Abidjan, with the warning: “My sisters, my
brothers, I ask you to take the matter very seriously… we tend to be too
light about our reactions to the situation.”

Another great African striker, the Cameroonian
Samuel Eto’o, also now retired, was quick to urge African communities to adhere
strictly to precautionary measures.

“My African brothers and sisters! Corona Virus
has taken over our lives. With malice, arrogance and without notice,”
Eto’o wrote.

“It knows neither race, religion nor political
parties. It kills the rich and the poor. Even in countries where research is
done well, the consequences are disastrous. Unpredictable.

Eto’o spent most of his playing career in Spain.

“For all these reasons my brothers, sisters,
dear parents, I ask you to respect the instructions given by the authorities of
our countries and the World Health Organization.”

Affected after Asia and Europe, sub-Saharan Africa
has recorded only 1,642 cases and around 20 deaths, according to an AFP count
at 1100 GMT Thursday from officially declared cases.

The continent, however, fears a lightning-like
spread that would overwhelm its already fragile health structures.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a 21-day national lockdown to start at midnight on March 26
© AFP Phill Magakoe

In South Africa, the most affected country on the
continent, Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi released a couple of videos
online showing himself at home with his children, adhering to the isolation
regulations laid down by President Cyril Ramaphosa

“Stay safe, stay strong, let’s fight this
together,” he says.

– Musicians give support –

African musicians are also stepping up as the
continent faces one of its bleakest hours.

Youssou N’Dour, described by Rolling Stone magazine
in 2004 as “the most famous singer alive” in Senegal and Africa,
handed over a batch of medical equipment to the health ministry in Dakar in
mid-March.

Secondary school students wash their hands at temporary hand washing point in Rwanda
© AFP STRINGER

Fellow Senegalese rappers collective “Y en a
marre” (‘Had enough’) set aside their usual antipathy towards corruption
and current politics to release a song called “Fagaru Ci Corona”
which warns of the dangers of the virus and advises on washing hands and
wearing masks.

They are among other artists who have temporarily
laid down their protests against governments to join forces and rally around
messages being put out by the authorities.

In Uganda, singer Bobi Wine, a member of parliament
who was arrested in early January for his opposition to President Yoweri
Museveni, has asked his fans to “watch the social distancing and
quarantine”, in a video on Twitter.

– ‘We want to live!’ –

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, rumba star
Fally Ipupa stepped away from romance for once to post a video on Twitter
called “Fally in confinement mode, the kisses stop”, an improvised
melody on an acoustic guitar.

“Stay at home, respect the instructions given
by the authorities and the WHO,” Kinshasa crooner said.

The authorities of DRC have not imposed confinement
yet but they have closed borders, public places, and put the capital Kinshasa
in lockdown.

His compatriot Koffi Olomide, a soukouss singer, a
modern version of Congolese rumba, warned fellow countrymen against the
“Kuluna-virus”, deftly weaving in the term “kuluna” which
indicates armed gangs of Kinshasa, one of the urban legends and terrors of the
capital.

In Ivory Coast, the singer DJ Kerozen also alluded
to the virus in a new song: “‘There’s a corona, let’s respect the hygiene
instructions, the deal is serious, oh..(. ..) Even Mbengue (slang for France),
over there, it’s spoiled… we want to live! “

The Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango, who had
become a reference for just about every musician in Africa, died in France this
week at the age of 86 as a result of the coronavirus.

The composer of “Soul Makoss” was the
first world celebrity to succumb to the virus. Congolese singer Aurlus Mabele,
a figure in soukous, also died a week ago in Paris from the virus.

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Wimbledon cancelled for first time since WWII

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Coco Gauff celebrates beating Venus Williams in the first round of Wimbledon 2019

London, United Kingdom, Apr 1 – Wimbledon
organisers on Wednesday scrapped the grasscourt Grand Slam for the first time
since World War II as the coronavirus wreaks further havoc on the global
sporting calendar.

The cancellation of the only grasscourt
major at the All England Club leaves the season in disarray, with no tennis due
to be played until mid-July.

“Devastated,” tweeted eight-time
champion Roger Federer.

Wimbledon was due to run for two weeks from
June 29, with Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep set to defend their singles
titles.

But tournament chiefs bowed to the
inevitable on Wednesday, saying in a statement that they had made the decision
with “great regret”.

All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said
the decision had not been taken lightly.

“It has weighed heavily on our minds
that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by
world wars,” he said.

“But, following thorough and extensive
consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global
crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s
Championships.”

Halep tweeted her disappointment.

“So sad to hear @Wimbledon won’t take
place this year,” she said. “Last year’s final will forever be one of
the happiest days of my life! But we are going through something bigger than
tennis and Wimbledon will be back! And it means I have even longer to look
forward to defending my title.”

The decision to scrap the tournament was
widely expected, with the world struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19,
which has infected more than 840,000 people worldwide and killed over 40,000.

It also prompted the ATP and WTA to cancel
the grasscourt swing in the build-up to Wimbledon, meaning the tennis season
will not now recommence until July 13 at the earliest.

Organisers had earlier ruled out playing
the Grand Slam behind closed doors and postponing the event would also create
its own problems.

– Becker plea –

Boris Becker enjoyed a successful spell from 2014 until 2016 as coach of former world number one Novak Djokovic, during which the Serbian won six Grand Slam titles

Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker on Tuesday pleaded for tournament chiefs to wait longer before making a decision.

“I really hope Wimbledon will wait
until the end of April for decision!” he tweeted. “The tourney is
first week of July… patience is a virtue.”

But former women’s world number one Amelie
Mauresmo, the 2006 women’s champion, said the 2020 season would probably need
to be scrapped.

The cancellation of Wimbledon could mean
multiple champions Federer, Serena Williams and Venus Williams have played at
the All England Club for the final time.

Federer and Serena will be nearly 40 by the
time of the 2021 championships and Venus will be 41.

Serena, beaten in last year’s final by
Halep, is stuck on 23 Grand Slam singles titles — agonisingly one away from
equalling Margaret Court’s record.

The French Tennis Federation provoked
widespread anger with its unilateral decision to move the French Open from its
original May 24 start date to begin on September 20.

That puts the start only one week after the
planned date of the US Open men’s final.

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UEFA postpone all June international matches

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UEFA have postponed international matches scheduled for June following a new meeting on Wednesday about the coronavirus crisis © AFP/File / Fabrice COFFRINI

PARIS, France, Apr 1UEFA have made a move towards clearing the decks for the return of club football by announcing on Wednesday that all international matches that had been pushed back to June have now been postponed until further notice.

“This includes the play-off matches for UEFA Euro 2020 and qualifying matches for UEFA Women’s Euro 2021,” said European football’s governing body in a statement.

“All other UEFA competition matches, including the centralised international friendly matches, remain postponed until further notice.”

The decision followed a videoconference with Europe’s 55 member federations as part of discussions on how to adapt the fixture calendar in the face of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The play-off semi-finals and finals that are supposed to decide the last four qualifying berths for the next European Championship were initially postponed at the end of March and pencilled in provisionally for June.

That was “subject to a review of the situation” amid uncertainty over how the pandemic will develop and whether many European countries currently in lockdown will be able to return to some kind of normality.

Friendly matches that will not now go ahead as a result of the decision include England’s matches in Austria and at home to Romania in early June.

However, UEFA have also stated a determination to finish all domestic and club competitions by June 30.

While that currently looks ambitious at the very least, clearing the international fixtures from the same month does buy some more time as they aim to complete the Champions League and Europa League competitions as well as domestic leagues.

Carrying the season on beyond that date runs the risk of clubs losing their out-of-contract players before matches have been completed, unless a solution can be found.

“There is a very strong case to be made that it should be in everybody’s interests to as much as possible extend those,” said Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, the general secretary of global players’ union FIFPro, when asked about the issue of expiring player contracts in a conference call on Tuesday.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin told Italian daily La Repubblica at the weekend that football “could start again in mid-May, in June or even late June” but that any time after that and “the season will probably be lost.”

The impact of the pandemic on Europe has already forced UEFA to put Euro 2020 back 12 months, while the women’s Euro 2021 has also been postponed.

On Wednesday UEFA said that the men’s and women’s Under-17 and Under-19 European Championships, scheduled for May and July respectively, were postponed until further notice.

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Wimbledon cancelled for first time since WWII

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UEFA postpone all June international matches

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Howe first Premier League boss to take pay cut over virus

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AFP

By AFP
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Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe became the first Premier League manager to take a voluntary pay cut due to the coronavirus on Wednesday.

Cherries boss Howe, 42, agreed to take a “significant” cut to his reported £4 million-per-year ($4.9 million) contract to help offset the financial damage caused by the pandemic.

The League Managers Association, the Professional Footballers Association, the Premier League and the Football League are in talks with a view to reaching a united agreement over pay reductions for players and managers.

But Howe, chief executive Neill Blake, first team technical director Richard Hughes and assistant boss Jason Tindall have rubber stamped significant pay cuts for the period of time football is delayed by the health crisis.

The Premier League has been postponed until at least April 30 and, with the pandemic spread yet to be solved, it appears the top-flight season will be pushed back again when the English game’s major stakeholders meet on Friday.

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“As the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic continues to gather pace, there are far more questions than answers regarding its effects,” a Bournemouth statement read.

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“There is no script for moments like this. But as a board we are continually looking at ways to ensure the future of the club and our employees are protected when the season returns.

“With that in mind, chief executive Neill Blake, first team technical director Richard Hughes, manager Eddie Howe and assistant manager Jason Tindall have all taken significant, voluntary pay cuts for the entirety of this uncertain time.”

Bournemouth have also followed in the footsteps of fellow Premier League clubs Tottenham, Newcastle and Norwich by furloughing a number of non-playing staff.

“These measures have been taken to safeguard the financial stability of the club during what is such an uncertain period, not only in football but for businesses in all industries across the world,” the statement said.

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