11 May 2020

Today's sports news: What you need to know

9:08 am on 11 May 2020

Latest - Five players in Spain's top two football divisions have tested positive for Covid-19 since clubs began testing players and staff members last week.

Real Madrid versus FC Barcelona; Fans wearing masks to fend off possible Corona virus infection


La Liga said the players would remain at their homes where they would continue individual training before being tested again "in the next few days" to determine whether they can return to their club's training ground.

Many clubs including champions Barcelona have returned to individual training as part of the second stage of La Liga's four-phase protocol for getting back to activity after play was halted in early March due to the pandemic.

La Liga, which last week said it was hoping to resume matches without spectators in June, said detecting positive cases was vital to its programme for returning to activity.

The statement added that the league would not divulge the names of infected players due to data protection laws.

Real Sociedad goalkeeper Alex Remiro said on Saturday he was one of the players to test positive.

- Reuters

UFC fighters forced to sign agreement

UFC fighters taking part at the UFC 249 event in Florida could lose their purses and bonuses if they publicly criticise the fight promotion's health and safety precautions for Covid-19, according to an event participation agreement seen by Reuters.

With sporting events cancelled around the globe due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the UFC is staging three cards in eight days in Jacksonville, Florida.

Before competing, fighters taking part in the UFC 249 event yesterday were asked to sign an eight-page event participation agreement.

A non-disparagement clause in the undated agreement states that "the Participant will not suggest or communicate to any person or entity" that the events "have been or will be held without appropriate health, safety or other precautions, whether relating to COVID-19 or otherwise."

Justin Gaethje produced the best performance of his career to finish Tony Ferguson and win the UFC interim lightweight title.

- Reuters

Cummins all for spit and polish

Australia fast bowler Pat Cummins believes test cricket will be much the poorer if using spit and sweat to help shine the ball is banned without some form of replacement in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins.

Pat Cummins Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Cricketers have long used saliva and sweat to shine one side of the ball, altering the aerodynamics in an attempt to generate movement in the air as it flies towards the batsman.

The Australian Institute of Sport's protocols for the return of sport in the country, however, specifically rules out the practice because of the danger of transmitting Covid-19.

Cummins, the world's top-ranked test bowler, thinks that such a radical change to the longest form of game would be unacceptable.

"As a fast bowler, I think you've got to be able to shine the ball," he said in an interview on the website of his Indian Premier League team, the Kolkata Knight Riders.

"Why everyone loves test cricket is because it has so much art to it. You have swing bowlers, spinners, you have all these different aspects that make test cricket what it is.

"I think if you can't shine the ball, that takes away swing bowling, that takes away reverse swing bowling and I just don't want to give batsmen another reason to score runs."

Cricket boards are desperate to get players back on the field after social exclusion restrictions are eased to get revenue flowing once more.

Cummins, though, believes that the game at the top level will probably not resume while there are still major concerns about the transmission of the virus.

- Reuters

Another Seagull tests positive

A third first-team player from Brighton & Hove Albion has tested positive for Covid-19, the English Premier League club's chief executive Paul Barber has confirmed.

Glenn Murray  of Brighton and Hove Albion.


Two Brighton players had contracted the novel coronavirus in March and April and the latest positive result could cast doubts on the Premier League's plans to resume the season that has been suspended due to the pandemic.

Clubs are due to meet on Monday to further discuss "Project Restart" which envisages a return to play in June once given the green light from government, with the remaining 92 matches held behind closed doors at neutral venues.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero had said a number of players would be fearful of resuming the season amid the virus outbreak with more than 4.02 million people infected globally and over 276,000 dead.

Brighton, 15th in the standings, have five home games left including visits from Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal, and are among a number of top-flight clubs opposed to the idea of neutral venues.

- Reuters

Durant won't play this season

Brooklyn Nets basketball star Kevin Durant will not play if the NBA restarts the season.

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant Photo: Photosport

The Nets are determined to let the four-time scoring champion rest until next season rather than risk reinjuring his right Achilles tendon.

"Kevin Durant's not coming back to the Nets this year," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said during "The Woj Pod" podcast. "That's not happening. ... They're not playing him."

Earlier this month, Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said he wouldn't rule out Durant returning to the court if the league resumes the 2019-20 campaign. Play has been suspended since March 11 due to the coronavirus crisis.

Durant, 31, was injured during Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals as a member of the Golden State Warriors. He signed a four-year, $267 million deal with the Nets as a free agent in July.

The 10-time All-Star forward was the league's Most Valuable Player in 2013-14 as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was a two-time NBA Finals MVP with the Warriors.

- Reuters

Afghani keeper banned

Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batsman Shafiqullah Shafaq has been hit with a six-year ban after he accepted four charges of breaching the country's Anti-Corruption Code.

The charges relate to offences during the first edition of the Afghanistan Premier League T20 in 2018, where Shafaq played for the Nangarhar Leopards, and the 2019 Bangladesh Premier League, where he represented Sylhet Thunder.

The 30-year-old Shafaq, who made his Afghanistan debut in 2009 and has played 24 one-day internationals and 46 Twenty20 internationals, will be banned from all forms of cricket.

"This is a very serious offence where a senior national player is involved in the corruption of a high-profile domestic game in APL T20 2018," ACB's senior anti-corruption manager Sayed Anwar Shah Quraishi said.

"The player had also attempted but failed to get one of his team mates to engage in corruption in another high-profile game during the BPL 2019.

- Reuters