8 Jul 2020

Today's sports news: What you need to know

4:09 pm on 8 July 2020

Latest - New Zealand Football have received almost $1 million in Governement funding to run their national competitions.

NZ Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell.

NZ Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport

The national body have confirmed they have been handed $900,000 towards the national men's and women's football and futsal leagues.

The money is part of the first major release of funding from the Government's $265 million Sport Recovery Package announced in this year's Budget.

"We welcome the Government funding announcement which helps us run national football and futsal competitions later this year," NZF chief executive Andrew Pragnell said.

"It was hugely exciting to see the community game return in June. Bringing back our national competitions is the next step in football getting back to normal."

NZF said the dates for upcoming competitions would be announced later this month.

The Government had also announced an initial $7.3 million package to improve facilities for New Zealand's upcoming hosting of World Cups, including the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, co-hosted with Australia.

Chelsea up to third

Chelsea have climbed to third in the English Premiership and closed in on a European Champions League spot after a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace.

The win at Selhurst Park means the Blues leap-frog Leicester City who were held to a 1-all draw at Arsenal.

City's Jamie Vardy pounced to score a crucial late equaliser as they hit back after Arsenal were reduced to ten men with 15 minutes to play.

Leicester have won only two of their last 10 league games are now fourth and just four points ahead Manchester United who have a game in hand.

The top four qualify for the Champions League.

Chelsea were in complete control for most of the first half, but then let Palace back into the game and were lucky not to concede another goal late in the game.

Watford beat bottom club Norwich 2-1 in te day's other game.

Champions Liverpool have 89 points, Manchester City 66, Chelsea 60, Leicester 59 and Manchester United 55.


Alonso heading back to F1

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso is set to return to Formula One with Renault in 2021, the BBC reported.

Fernando Alonso.

Fernando Alonso. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Alonso, who left Formula One at the end of 2018 after a final season with McLaren, won his championship titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006.

The Spaniard, 38, has made no secret of his desire to return to the Formula One grid, with the French manufacturer having a vacancy.

Alonso could join Frenchman Esteban Ocon and replace Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who is moving to McLaren at the end of the 2020 season.

"I don't know if he is going to join or not with us but definitely if he could come back here I'd be very happy," Ocon said last week.

Renault were not immediately available for comment.


Tevaga back for Warriors

Loose forward Jazz Tevaga is poised to make his long-awaited return after being named on the interchange for the Warriors' NRL game against Gold Coast on Friday night.

Jazz Tevaga celebrates his try.

Jazz Tevaga Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 24-year-old hasn't played since the club's last match of the 2019 campaign against the Canberra Raiders.

He has now fully recovered from offseason ankle surgery and a calf strain picked up in Tamworth which further hampered his comeback plans.

Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returns at fullback from a one-match suspension, Peta Hiku moves back into the centres and Gerard Beale is switched to the extended bench.

The other notable change sees the club's 2019 NRL rookie of the year Chanel Harris-Tavita named to partner Blake Green in the halves, coming in for Kiwi international Kodi Nikorima who has been ruled out after leaving the field with a head knock last week.

Investigation into British Gymnasyics

British Gymnastics will conduct an independent review of allegations of abuse and bullying in the sport.

British media reports have cited allegations from a number of ex-gymnasts describing abusive behaviour from coaches and staff.

The review will be conducted by Jane Mulcahy QC, who has experience in a number of areas within sports.

The announcement by British Gymnastics came after the British Athletes Commission, which represents the country's Olympic and Paralympic athletes, called for an investigation of the allegations.


Airs go top of League

Taranaki have leap-frogged Franklin at the top of the National basketball League after a 102-88 win over the Bulls.

Marcel Jones of the Taranaki Mountainairs.

Marcel Jones Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The result snapped the Bulls four game winning streak.

Entering the game, the Airs boasted the most potent offence (averaging 102.5ppg) and the Bulls the stingiest defence giving up just 76.8 points per game. Something had to give and unfortunately for the Bulls, it was their defence which was particularly porous in the first half.

The Bulls and Airs both now have four wins and three losses, sitting joint-top of the ladder.

Meanwhile the Auckland Huskies recorded just their second win of the League beating the Otago Nuggets 81-69.

Otago remain third and Auckland seventh and last.

Manly prop faces further sanction

Suspended Manly prop Addin Fonua-Blake faces further disciplinary action after NRL acting CEO Andrew Abdo found that he had breached the game's anti-vilification code during separate outbursts on and off the field after Sunday's 14-12 loss to Newcastle.

Manly prop Addin Fonua-Blake.


Fonua-Blake is serving a two-match ban for abusing referee Grant Atkins at full-time but the NRL is considering an additional sanction after it was revealed he made similar derogatory and offensive comments about the match officials in the Brookvale Oval dressing room.

Fonua-Blake issued a written apology through the club on Sunday night at the urging of his wife and on Tuesday the Sea Eagles released a video in which he admitted "I let my emotions get the best of me".

The Manly forward also confirmed he had continued his tirade in the dressing room but insisted the comments hadn't been directly to Atkins or any other match official.


Stokes told to do it his way

Stand-in England captain Ben Stokes says regular skipper Joe Root has given him a simple piece of advice ahead of tonight' first test with West Indies -- do it your way.

Ben Stokes


With Root missing for the birth of his second child, Stokes will get to pit himself against West Indies counterpart Jason Holder.

"The best message I've received was when I got my photos done yesterday, with the blazer. Rooty just left a message on the hanger which said, 'Do it your way'," said Stokes.

But the all-rounder says he knows that he will be able to turn to Root for advice at any stage during the match.

Stokes' first big decision as captain will be to name his team along with coach Chris Silverwood and there are tricky choices to be made with his bowling attack.

James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood are competing for the three pace spots alongside Stokes and offspinner Dom Bess.

The first Test is in Southampton without fans.


British women's Open will go ahead without fans

The women's British Open golf tournament will go ahead without fans in August at Royal Troon.

The tournament from Aug. 20-23 will be the first women's major to take place this year.

The first women's golf major scheduled for this year, the Evian Championship from Aug. 6-9 in France, was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced the cancellation of the men's British Open at Sandwich.

The women's British Open will enforce strict health and safety protocols including the creation of a bio-secure zone at the Scottish course. Only personnel essential to the Championship's onsite operations, namely players, caddies, officials, and staging staff, will be inside the zone.

The qualifying events for the major have already been cancelled and the field will comprise the leading players from the Women's World Golf Rankings as well as successful players from recent tournaments staged on leading Tours.


Auckland-Canterbury rivalry resurfaces

The bitter rivalry between Canterbury and Auckland has been re-ignited ahead of the Crusaders clash with the Blues on Saturday with both teams flying in Super Rugby Aotearoa, Crusaders assistant coach Scott Hansen has said.

Rob Penney in action for Canterbury against Auckland 1990.

Rob Penney Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The provincial rivalry, which dates back more than a century, has waned in recent years with the Crusaders dominating New Zealand rugby over the last two decades.

But with both sides unbeaten after their first three games of the domestic Super Rugby competition hopes are high the game will be as intense as the historic rivalry deserves.

"It feels like that (the old days)," Hansen said when asked if the rivalry was back. "There is a huge amount of respect for the Blues.

"Our boys will need to be up for it, but they will (be)."

The Blues have struggled against the Crusaders in recent years and lost their previous 11 matches, stretching back to a 35-24 victory in 2014.

Captain Patrick Tuipulotu, hooker James Parsons and prop Ofa Tuungafasi are the only current Blues players who were in the 2014 squad.


FFA looking for exemptions for Victorian teams

Football Federation Australia has applied for exemptions to allow players and high performance coaching staff from the Victorian A-League clubs to enter New South Wales.

On Monday the NSW Government closed the NSW border to Victoria because of the growth of coronaviris cases in Victoria.

The FFA wants Melbourne City FC, Melbourne Victory and Western United FC to enter NSW for the resumption of the A-League which starts on July 16th.

FFA Head of Leagues, Greg O'Rourke, said that every effort was made to relocate the clubs out of Victoria before the closing of the borders, but unfortunately, despite all the players boarding a plane to the ACT, weather closed Canberra Airport which then made it impossible to leave Victoria before the borders closed.

"As a result, we will now begin the process to seek exemptions from the NSW Government to allow the teams to enter NSW for them to continue their season," said O'Rourke.

"If we find it necessary to revise the match schedule we will do so accordingly and will announce once confirmed, however at this time the schedule remains the same," concluded O'Rourke.


Coronaviris costly for European teams

The novel coronavirus pandemic is likely to cost Europe's top-flight football clubs almost $7 billion in lost revenue, a study published by the association which represents them said.

The analysis by the European Club Association also warned that the biggest losses would be felt next season, even if it is played in full.

European football was brought to a near standstill in March and, although many leagues restarted last month, most had to do so without spectators. This was a particular blow in smaller leagues where clubs are more dependent on gate receipts for their income.

There are more than 700 first division clubs in Europe's 55 national associations although a recent study by European soccer's governing body UEFA showed that the top 30 of them rake in nearly half of the total revenue.