FIFA President Gianni Infantino stepped into the debate about Bundesliga players who protested during matches against the death of George Floyd, saying Tuesday that they should be applauded and not punished.
Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho was booked for taking off his jersey during a Bundesliga match so he could display a T-shirt emblazoned with “Justice for George Floyd.”
Dortmund teammate Achraf Hakimi and Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie carried the same messages on their body at the weekend in a technical breach of the game’s laws that led to the Germany soccer federation saying it was considering a disciplinary case despite expressing pride in their actions.
Floyd, a black man and former community college basketball player, died after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and stopped pleading for air. His death has sparked protests across the United States and in other countries.
“For the avoidance of doubt,” Infantino said, “in a FIFA competition the recent demonstrations of players in Bundesliga matches would deserve an applause and not a punishment.”
Infantino’s comments were published in a statement by FIFA and were set to feature in a letter to all 211 member associations. The statement also urged leagues to apply “common sense and have in consideration the context surrounding the events.”
The laws of the game prohibit “any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images” on equipment.
European football’s governing body will also overlook that rule to allow Floyd tributes in continental competitions it oversees.
“Football is a sport which encourages tolerance, inclusion and justice,” UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said. “These are the same values being espoused by those showing solidarity to George Floyd.”
UEFA is hoping to resume the Champions League and Europa League in August after being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“If a player in our competitions were to display a message or act symbolically to ask for equality for human beings,” Ceferin said, “the circumstances around the event should be taken into account in line with UEFA’s zero tolerance against racism.”
The English Football Association has already said it will adopt the stance urged by FIFA. The Premier League is due to resume on June 17 and clubs have been showing solidarity with Floyd.
Players from Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle have been pictured this week in training taking a knee as part of anti-racism gestures.
“Where any behaviours or gestures on the pitch that may constitute a breach of the laws of the game have to be assessed, they would be reviewed on a case by case basis with a common sense approach and understanding of their context,” the FA said earlier in a statement when asked about players’ tributes to Floyd.
NHLPA Executive Board approves CBA, return-to-play plan – Sportsnet.ca
The NHLPA’s Executive Board has approved the CBA extension and return-to-play plan that was recently agreed to with the NHL. The entire NHLPA membership will now have an opportunity to vote on the two agreements with a simple majority required to ratify them.
In a tweet, the NHLPA announced that the full membership vote will be conducted electronically from Wednesday to Friday this week and the result of the vote is expected to be announced shortly after. The NHL’s Board of Governors will also vote on the agreements sometime this week.
The return-to-play plan includes all the rules and regulations necessary for the NHL to stage a 24-team return later this summer. This agreement covers Phase 3 of the return — training camps beginning July 13 — and Phase 4 — the resumption of play on Aug. 1. Any player that wishes to opt out of returning to play will have 72 hours to do so once the agreement has been approved.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston has more information on what the return-to-play plan covers here.
While the return-to-play plan was essential to complete the 2019-20 season, a CBA extension was equally important as it dictates how the league will move forward from a season that could cost it up to $1 billion in lost revenues. The current agreement was scheduled to expire in September of 2022 and the extension adds four more years.
As part of the agreement, the salary cap will remain flat at $81.5 million for every season until league revenues hit $4.8 billion. The agreement also offers some stability with regards to escrow charged to the players. With a 50-50 split in revenue and teams expected to play in at best partially full stadiums next season, players were potentially going to be hit very hard by escrow to cover the lost revenues. The new CBA caps escrow at 20 per cent in 2020-21 and that number will go down as league revenues go up over the course of the deal.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has more details on the CBA here, including information about new trade clause rules and Olympic participation.
After suspending the season and sending players home in March, the NHL began Phase 2 of returning to play on June 8 by allowing small group skates at team facilities. In the month since Phase 2 began, 35 players have tested positive for COVID-19, the NHL announced Monday.
Blackhawks keeping name, pledge more support to Native American communities – Sportsnet.ca
CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks say they will continue to use their team name because it honours a Native American leader who has been an inspiration to generations.
“The Chicago Blackhawks name and logo symbolizes an important and historic person, Black Hawk of Illinois’ Sac & Fox Nation, whose leadership and life has inspired generations of Native Americans, veterans and the public,” the NHL team said in a statement Tuesday.
“We celebrate Black Hawk’s legacy by offering ongoing reverent examples of Native American culture, traditions and contributions, providing a platform for genuine dialogue with local and national Native American groups. As the team’s popularity grew over the past decade, so did that platform and our work with these important organizations.
“We recognize there is a fine line between respect and disrespect, and we commend other teams for their willingness to engage in that conversation. Moving forward, we are committed to raising the bar even higher to expand awareness of Black Hawk and the important contributions of all Native American people. “
Under renewed pressure to change their name, the NFL’s Washington Redskins announced a “thorough review” of the issue. In baseball, the Cleveland Indians are also looking into it while the Atlanta Braves declined.
Canucks’ Chris Tanev ‘ready to go’ after long post-season layoff – Sportsnet.ca
VANCOUVER – The first time he played an NHL playoff game, Chris Tanev was a little-known 21-year-old minor league call-up who was two years removed from the Markham Waxers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Tanev was ninth on the Vancouver Canucks’ defence depth chart, still a rookie in the American Hockey League, when the 2011 Stanley Cup tournament began. But the defenceman from Toronto logged nearly 21 NHL minutes the night Kevin Bieksa’s overtime slap shot (on an assist from a stanchion) won the Western Conference title and sent the Canucks to their first Stanley Cup Final in 17 years.
Tanev then played the final three games of the Canucks’ seven-game series loss against the Boston Bruins.
No one at the start of that spring foresaw this undrafted, skinny-but-smart late bloomer playing for the chance to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. Still, Tanev was ready.
And five years since he last played a playoff game, Tanev will be ready again this summer no matter how little time teams have to prepare for an extraordinary Stanley Cup summer tournament in the year of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Mentally, it’s the same; you’re getting ready to go,” Tanev told reporters in a conference call Tuesday when asked about preparing for an NHL training camp in July and playoffs in August.
“Whenever the day is that it starts, I think everyone will be ready and mentally prepared. Depending on where everyone was in the world (during the NHL’s four-month shutdown), they were allowed to do different things. I feel strong. I’ve worked out. I’ve been skating for quite a while now. I feel ready to go whenever that date is.”
Earlier, the 30-year-old said: “I was fortunate enough my first few years in the league to be able to play in the playoffs, and we haven’t been able to do it in recent years. Our young guys are our best players, and they’ll be ready to go.
“I think we have just as good a shot as anyone to win this thing, so I think we’re going to be ready to go once the puck drops.”
There isn’t much time.
Ordinarily, players skate hard for at least a month before training camp, which is followed by a five- to eight-game pre-season ahead of October season-openers – the first step in an 82-game race to the playoffs that increases steadily in pace and intensity.
In the summer of COVID-19, the 24 teams still playing will have as little as three weeks – and perhaps only one or two exhibition games – to get ready for “playoff” hockey.
No one knows for sure what the hockey will look like, except there will be no spectators in the arenas of the hub cities, which are expected to be Edmonton and Toronto.
“I honestly have no idea,” Tanev said. “I don’t know if there’s an exhibition game or two games or what’s going on, but that play-in series is going to be, I think, a lot different for guys. You’re sort of jumping in to play playoffs (after) maybe only playing one game. It’s going to be very different. But I think as that series gets passed, and you start to get into the second and third rounds, the hockey will get quite good as guys get playing more.”
The Canucks have a five-game preliminary-round series against the Minnesota Wild.
Tanev was one of only three Canucks – Troy Stecher and Alex Edler were the others – who remained in Vancouver during the shutdown. The benefit, besides the obvious health advantage of remaining in one of the safest major cities in the world, is that Canucks who didn’t require a flight to return to the West Coast now have relative freedom compared to group-quarantining teammates.
“I think a few guys aren’t as happy as us who have the freedom to walk around and do things outside of the hotel room, that’s for sure,” Tanev said.
Besides Tanev, Edler and Stecher, the Freedom Group includes Jake Virtanen and Tyler Myers, who spent most of the shutdown in the Okanagan, as well as Albertans Brandon Sutter and Jay Beagle and Manitoban Micheal Ferland.
Virtanen marked his return to the city last week by visiting a nightclub. Video and photos of the winger mixing with friends caused Canucks Twitter to melt. The Virtanen party was subject to the club’s social-distancing guidelines, but it was an unnecessary risk for the 23-year-old, even if he will have no contact with the majority of his teammates until training camp opens Monday at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks are preparing for camp in small groups isolating from one other.
“I think he knows he made a little bit of a mistake,” Tanev said. “But he’s tested now, I believe, twice and he’s tested negative. It’s obviously a tough situation when you’re not technically in quarantine and you’re allowed to go out and do whatever you want. But you’ve got to keep everyone in mind that we’re trying to create a safe environment for everyone. I think he knows that that was obviously the wrong decision, but I mean, I think him and guys seeing that now going forward will be smarter.”
Coaches call that a teachable moment.
We’ve had a lot of those in the world since February.
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