Coronavirus: Here’s what’s happening in the sports world on Saturday

The latest on how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting sports around the globe:

  • Anger mounts at decision to end Dutch soccer season
  • French rugby player suspended during shutdown

Chelsea won’t impose pay cut on players

English Premier League team Chelsea says it will not impose a pay cut on its first-team squad and instead will ask players to continue their support for charities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chelsea also said it will not be furloughing any full-time staff, and casual workers and match day employees are being compensated by the club through to June 30.

The Blues have been in negotiations with their players about a salary reduction, reportedly around 10 per cent, in an effort to save money during the current crisis. That is lower than the Premier League’s suggestion of 30 per cent for all clubs but Chelsea has now decided to take a different approach.

Highlighting the PlayersTogether initiative launched by Premier League players earlier this month which aims to raise and distribute funds for National Health Service charities, Chelsea told its stars to focus their efforts on other causes.

“At this time, the men’s first team will not be contributing towards the club financially and instead the board has directed the team to focus their efforts on further supporting other charitable causes,” a statement on the club website said.

Anger mounts at Dutch decision ending soccer season

Dutch top-flight club FC Utrecht is preparing for legal action to fight the Royal Netherlands Football Association decision to cancel the remainder of the league season and allocate places in next season’s European competitions based on the standings when play was halted by the coronavirus crisis.

Utrecht likely will not be alone in challenging the decision that also said there would be no relegation and promotion between the country’s two top leagues.

The Netherlands was the first top-tier European league to cancel the remainder of the season. Neighboring Belgium could also end its season at a meeting Monday.

Utrecht owner Frans van Seumeren told local broadcaster RTV Utrecht on Friday night that his club will “use all the lawyers we can” in a bid to overturn the decision.

When the season was cancelled, Utrecht was sixth in the Eredivisie, three points behind fifth-place Willem II, which occupied the last Europa League spot. However, Utrecht played one game less and had a superior goal difference. It also had reached the final of the KNVB cup competition.

France rugby player suspended during lockdown

France rugby player Mohamed Haouas will be free to resume playing after lockdown ends by serving his three-week suspension during it.

The prop was suspended for hitting a Scotland player during their Six Nations encounter on March 8 at Murrayfield – the last match to be played in the competition.

The French rugby federation says Haouas “can serve this punishment during confinement and can thus play again once the sporting season resumes.”

France is in lockdown until May 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is uncertain if and when the Six Nations matches can be completed.

British government in talks with sports bodies

The British government is increasing planning with sports bodies about the resumption of events once the coronavirus national lockdown is eased.

Government medical officials are involved in the talks about the logistics and health procedures required to allow sports competitions to restart.

The Premier League last played a game on March 9 and has plans to try to restart from June 8 once pandemic social distancing regulations are relaxed to allow training to resume for teams and there are sufficient COVID-19 tests available.

The national lockdown is currently in place until May 7. Cricket authorities have already said their sport won’t resume until July, but horse racing is currently only suspended until June.

British Horseracing Authority chair Annamarie Phelps tweeted Saturday about “very welcome support for the resumption of live sport incl horseracing” from Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, linking to a front page report from The Sun newspaper about plans for events to be staged again.

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