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Soccer reboot in Germany: No fans, lonely goal celebrations – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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CiaraN Fahey, The Associated Press


Published Saturday, May 16, 2020 8:09AM EDT


Last Updated Saturday, May 16, 2020 3:16PM EDT

BERLIN – Erling Haaland scored the Bundesliga’s first goal in more than two months and then celebrated.

Alone.

The 19-year-old’s Borussia Dortmund teammates stayed away, mindful of the strict hygiene measures amid the coronavirus pandemic, as Germany‘s soccer season resumed in unprecedented conditions on Saturday.

Dortmund beat Schalke 4-0 in the first Ruhr derby to be played in an empty stadium. Calls and shouts from coaching staff and players, and the thud of the sanitized ball being kicked, reverberated around the mainly deserted stands.

Players had been warned to keep their emotions in check, and to desist from spitting, handshakes and hugging with the games keenly watched by the rest of the soccer world hoping to restart their own leagues.

Team staff, and players who didn’t start, wore masks. Substitutes took their positions in the stands, rather than beside the field, while balls and seats were disinfected.

Haaland celebrated his 10th goal in nine Bundesliga games with a restrained dance as his teammates stayed back.

“It’s hard,” midfielder Julian Brandt said. “But that’s the way it is now. We try to stick to the rules.”

Brandt set up Raphael Guerreiro before the break and Thorgan Hazard after it. Hazard celebrated alone in front of the Westfalenstadion’s south terrace, where normally the club’s “Yellow Wall” of almost 25,000 fervent fans would be standing.

“It felt strange, also for the players. You could see that with the celebrations,” Dortmund team co-ordinator Sebastian Kehl said.

Haaland set up Guerreiro to seal the result as Dortmund cut the gap on leader Bayern Munich to a point. Bayern is due to play at Union Berlin on Sunday.

Schalke became the first team to make five substitutions in a Bundesliga game in a new temporary measure allowed in the league, but they couldn’t change the outcome. Dortmund’s players celebrated in front of the empty south terrace afterward.

“To applaud all our fans who were watching on TV,” Kehl said.

Pre-game television interviews were conducted with long poles holding microphones and participants keeping their distance.

“It’s quite surreal,” Dortmund chief executive Hans Joachim Watzke told Sky TV. “I’ve received messages from all over the world in the last couple of hours that everybody is watching and then you go through the city and there’s nothing going on.”

Borussia Mönchengladbach moved third, three points behind Bayern, with a 3-1 win at Eintracht Frankfurt in the late game.

Also: Hertha Berlin won 3-0 at Hoffenheim in coach Bruno Labbadia’s first game in charge; Freiburg drew at Leipzig 1-1; Paderborn drew at Fortuna Dusseldorf 0-0; and Wolfsburg won 2-1 at Augsburg, where the home side’s new coach Heiko Herrlich was forced to watch from the stands after breaking quarantine to buy toiletries. Herrlich will only return after twice testing negative for the virus.

Celebrations were muted throughout, with only Hertha’s players overstepping calls for restraint.

“Goal celebrations are part of soccer. We’re tested so often I think they can be allowed,” Labbadia said in defence of his team.

Even though the stadium contained less than 300 people, one of them – a camera operator behind the goal – still managed to be hit on the head by a wayward shot from Leipzig’s Ademola Lookman.

They were the first games to be played in the league since March 11.

Earlier Saturday, the second division resumed with four games, also without fans present and amid strict distancing measures.

South Korea midfielder Lee Jae-sung scored the division’s first goal for Holstein Kiel in a 2-2 draw at Jahn Regensburg. He celebrated by giving teammates fist bumps.

Goal celebrations in other games were also marked by fist bumps and elbow-to-elbow touching.

The game’s authorities were keen to restart the country’s top two divisions with several clubs, including Schalke, facing severe financial difficulties because of the suspension in play.

Numerous polls showed a growing majority in Germany were against the resumption of the leagues. Fans are also critical.

“Soccer without fans is nothing,” read a joint statement from several Bayern Munich fan groups after the league decided on May 7 to resume.

Cologne fans accused authorities Saturday of prioritizing money over people’s health. A banner at Augsburg’s game against Wolfsburg said, “Soccer will survive, your business is sick!”

There was criticism too from players over health concerns and the threat of injury with games now packed into a tight schedule.

Players and staff have been subjected to regular testing for COVID-19. Three cases were found at Cologne, while second-division Dynamo Dresden was ordered into 14 days of quarantine after two more positive results brought its total to three last Saturday. Dresden’s game against Hannover on Sunday was called off, and the team cannot train during the quarantine period.

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Amanda Nunes completely dominates Felicia Spencer in lopsided decision to defend title at UFC 250 – MMA Fighting

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Amanda Nunes was already considered the greatest women’s fighter of all time before competing at UFC 250. Nothing dispelled that mystique on Saturday night as the reigning two-division champion absolutely dominated Felicia Spencer from the first second of their fight until the last as she defended her featherweight title for the first time.

The scorecards read 50-44, 50-44 and 50-45 with Nunes winning her 11th consecutive fight overall. While it was somewhat shocking that Spencer survived to the end, Nunes paid homage to her opponent for the incredible toughness she displayed.

“I’m not surprised,” Nunes said afterwards. “I know she’s very tough. I know what she’s capable of. I know she’s tough. I have to be sharp.”

In the first few exchanges it appeared Nunes was going to add another knockout to her resume after she clubbed Spencer with a couple of powerful right hands that would likely finish many opponents. Somehow, Spencer stayed upright as she tried to apply her grappling game by slowing Nunes down in the clinch.

That backfired after Nunes surprised her with a whizzer and then began dropping elbows from the top position for the remainder of the first round.

While she didn’t fade away, Spencer was just outmatched on the feet as she continued to eat punches with Nunes blasting her with thudding right hands again and again. With a smirk on her face almost the entire fight, Nunes continued walking Spencer down and then unleashing her powerful strikes.

By the time the third round was winding down, Nunes was in absolute control, tagging Spencer with a barrage of punches and then making her pay with kicks as well. Spencer was starting to fade without any hope of getting Nunes to the ground as the damage she was absorbing really started to add up.

With Nunes battering Spencer’s lead leg, the two-division champion really started to stalk her prey as she hunted for the finish. As time ticked away in the fourth round, Nunes went for the kill as she put together a series of punches that had Spencer nearly out on the feet.

Nunes almost wrapped up a rear-naked choke with seconds remaining but Spencer survived to the end of the round as she went back to her corner with hematomas swelling and blood streaked across her face.

In only got worse during the final five minutes with another cut opening up and Nunes just punishing Spencer in every exchange on the feet or on the ground. By the end of the fight, Nunes was just rag dolling Spencer around the cage as she cemented the victory.

Now with title defenses at bantamweight and featherweight, Nunes has all but obliterated every legitimate contender in both divisions. The question remains who will challenge Nunes next but for now she’s going to concentrate on more important matters — like the birth of her first child.

“That was my goal, defend my two belts,” Nunes said. “I’m so happy right now. I don’t know what is next. I had a fifth corner today. I have my daughter with me.”

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Spurs’ Gregg Popovich: U.S. ‘is in trouble and the basic reason is race’ – Sportsnet.ca

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Amid the marches and the protests, amid the pain, amid the generational trauma this moment in history has forced communities across the world to openly reckon with, a spotlight has shone bright on the need to listen and learn.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich sees that spotlight. He sees that need for learning. And he knows that what must be learnt is not just what is happening in the streets across the United States now, but the history that preceded it. To see one without the other would be to miss the essential full picture.

“Black people have been shouldering this burden for 400 years,” Popovich said Saturday during a #SpursVoices video, a Twitter-based initiative by the team to give a voice and platform to people within their organization to share how racism has impacted them. “The only reason this nation has made the progress that it has is because of the persistence, and patience, and effort of Black people.

“The history of our nation from the very beginning, in many ways, was a lie. And we continue to this day — mostly Black and Brown people — to try to make that lie be truth so that it is no longer a lie.”

In the three-minute video, Popovich does not expand on the specific history he is labeling a lie, though possibilities are not hard to find.

The preamble to the Declaration of Independence, for example, written in 1776, reads “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Pledge of Allegiance, in its original form, read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In 1923, the words “the Flag of the United States of America” were added to the beginning of the pledge.

Longstanding notions of all men being created equal with certain unalienable rights, and the U.S. being one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all are challenging to reconcile with history.

The United States had 250 years of slavery, 90 years of Jim Crow — laws which mandated racial segregation in all public facilities, starting in the 1870s and 1880s, and sought to disenfranchise and remove political and economic gains made by Blacks during the Reconstruction period — and 60 years of “separate but equal,” a legal doctrine that asserted racial segregation did not necessarily violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guaranteed “equal protection” under the law to all people. None of which even begins to address discriminatory housing policies or explicitly touches on the history of Black people suffering from police brutality.

“It’s almost, in a strange counter-intuitive sort of way, the best teaching moment of this most recent tragedy,” Popovich said. “I think [it was] the look on the officer’s face. For white people to see how nonchalant, how casual, how just everyday-going-about-his-job [he looked]. So much so that he could just put his left hand in his pocket, wriggle his knee around a little bit to teach this person some sort of a lesson, and it was his right and his duty to do it in his mind.”

The abhorent incident Popovich is referencing is, of course, the death of George Floyd.

Richard Deitsch and Donnovan Bennett host a podcast about how COVID-19 is impacting sports around the world. They talk to experts, athletes and personalities, offering a window into the lives of people we normally root for in entirely different ways.

Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died on May 25 in police custody in Minneapolis. The incident, which was captured on video, showed Floyd pinned to the ground with his hands cuffed and Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin – who was identified as the primary officer in the video – with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck for at least eight minutes.

In the video, Floyd can be heard saying that he couldn’t breathe, and later paramedics are seen lifting an apparently non-responsive Floyd onto a stretcher and into an ambulance.

An independent autopsy has since found that Floyd’s death was caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain. After the graphic video circulated widely on social media, the four officers involved in the incident were fired and Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison upgraded Chauvin’s charge to second-degree murder on Wednesday, and charged the three other officers on the scene with aiding and abetting.

“I don’t know,” Popovich said, visibly hurt by the recollection of the video. “I think I’m just embarrassed as a white person to know that that can happen, to actually watch a lynching. We’ve all seen books. And you look in the books and you see Black people hanging on trees. And you are amazed that we just saw it again. I never thought I’d see that with my own eyes in real time.”

The dismay and outrage Popovich felt has been shared by many, as protests continue across the U.S., sparked by the death of Floyd, denouncing systemic racism and acts of police brutality. The protests have not been for Floyd exclusively, though. Popovich is aware of that, too.

“What’s it gonna take,” he wonders in the video. “Two more Black people with knees in their necks?”

Though she did not die due to a knee in her neck, protests have also featured calls for justice for Breonna Taylor, an African-American woman who died on March 13 after Louisville police officers — executing a search warrant — used a battering ram to enter her apartment and, after a brief confrontation, fired several shots, striking her at least eight times. At this time, no charges have been filed against the officers.

“It’s like the gun [control] arguments,” Popovich said when grappling with how American can build a better, safer future. “How many more Sandy Hooks do we need to have? It’s easy for people to let things go because it doesn’t involve them. It’s like the neighbourhood where you know there’s a dangerous corner, and you know that something is going to happen some day and nobody does anything. Then a young kid gets killed and a stop sign goes up.

“Well, without getting too political, we’ve got a lot of stop signs that need to go up. Quickly. Because our country is in trouble and the basic reason is race.”

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UFC 250 salaries: Amanda Nunes easily tops card, could make $450k – MMA Fighting

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Early salaries have been released for the UFC 250 card, and Amanda Nunes is the biggest earner out of the gate.

The two-division champ take home a guaranteed $350,000 and stands to make up to $450,000 if she defends her featherweight title against Felicia Spencer, who could make $200,000 with an upset, according to preliminary salaries released by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Ex-bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt is the second-highest earner in terms of guaranteed money, making $130,000 to show – and double that for a win – in a bout against Raphael Assuncao, who’s show and win pay is $79,000.

Here is the full list of UFC 250 payouts. As always, these figures do not represent a fighter’s total earnings, as certain sponsorship incomes, pay-per-view bonuses, or discretionary post-fight bonuses are not publicly disclosed.

Main card (ESPN+ pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)

Amanda Nunes ($350,000 to show, $100,000 to win) vs. Felicia Spencer ($125,000 to show, $75,000 to win)

Raphael Assuncao ($79,000 to show, $79,000 to win) vs. Cody Garbrandt ($130,000 to show, $130,000 to win)

Aljamain Sterling ($76,000 to show, $76,000 to win) vs. Cory Sandhagen ($80,000 to show, $80,000 to win)

Neil Magny ($79,000 to show, $79,000 to win) vs. Rocco Martin ($48,000 to show, $48,000 to win)

Sean O’Malley ($40,000 to show, $40,000 to win) vs. Eddie Wineland ($46,000 to show, $46,000 to win)

Preliminary Card (ESPN and ESPN +, 8 p.m. ET)

Chase Hooper ($27,000 to show, $27,000 to win) vs. Alex Caceres ($58,000 to show, $58,000 to win)

Gerald Meerschaert ($33,000 to show, $33,000 to win) vs. Ian Heinisch ($40,000 to show, $40,000 to win)

Cody Stamann ($36,000 to show, $36,000 to win) vs. Brian Kelleher ($33,000 to show, $33,000 to win)

Charles Byrd ($12,000 to show, $12,000 to win) vs. Maki Pitolo ($10,000 to show, $10,000 to win)

Early Preliminary Card (ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass, 6:30 p.m. ET)

Jussier Formiga ($49,000 to show, $49,000 to win) vs. Alex Perez ($40,000 to show, $40,000 to win)

Alonzo Menifield ($14,000 to show, $14,000 to win) vs. Devin Clark ($48,000 to show, $48,000 to win)

Evan Dunham ($60,000 to show, $60,000 to win) vs. Herbert Burns ($12,000 to show, $12,000 to win)

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