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Australian Rugby League Considers “NRL Island”



The coronavirus pandemic has changed life in many ways — one of them the cancellation of sporting events around the world. Even the Olympics has been postponed.

But one of Australia’s most popular sporting codes thinks it might have a way around having to cancel the current season, which ground to a halt in late March just two games into a 25-round season.

It is with immense joy that I inform you Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) competition is considering a plan that would send its hundreds of players, team staff, match officials and media to a tropical island where they can continue to play and work in quarantine.

Under the proposal, personnel would live and train on the island and travel to the mainland to play football in existing stadiums. It could happen by June.

It’s one of a handful of options being considered to save the season, another being a relocation to a rural Queensland mining town.

The pandemic has thrown the NRL into financial turmoil, with players to forgo five months of pay if the competition cannot resume this year.

On Wednesday night the proposal to house the league at Tangalooma Island Resort on Queensland’s Moreton Island was confirmed by resort owner David James.

“We’re not talking about tomorrow, but hopefully when we’re over the curve, over the peak, and on the way out the other side, we can get the great game of rugby league going,” James told Fox Sports.

The league’s chief executive Todd Greenberg said in an interview with Wide World of Sports on Thursday that the island plan was “not off the table”. The general manager of the players’ union, Clint Newton, said players were willing to explore “all options”.

The concept of “NRL Island” would have sounded bonkers just weeks ago, and frankly it still does — but it’s been widely embraced by people on social media.

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I would prefer Messi to stay but La Liga is above clubs and players: Javier Tebas




La Liga has already lost two of the world’s best players in Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, and might lose another one in Lionel Messi but the Spanish football league’s president, Javier Tebas, is not perturbed by these developments.

“Yes, I would prefer the likes of Messi, Neymar and such great players to play in the La Liga, but it is not a determining factor,” Tebas said in a virtual conference with select journalists in India.

“We have been working for years so that the La Liga is above clubs and players in all aspects.”

Tebas also touched upon various other issues, including the impact of and lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic, Barcelona’s financial crisis, the proposed Super League and the broadcasting strategy for India. Excerpts.

On Fifa threatening players with ban if they join the proposed Super League

We totally agree. We are against this Super League and we have been saying this for years now. It will be harmful for the national leagues. I can talk about this a lot, but I am against it. So, we are very pleased with the Fifa press release where they are against this league. I also think (Fifa president) Gianni Infantino should make some things clear. I have heard that he was also behind this project.

On Messi’s uncertain future and its likely impact on brand La Liga

Well, as the best player in the world, I would like Messi to stay at La Liga. We have had previous examples like these. We had Neymar, he left for France, but I have not seen the French league improve in the international market. (Cristiano) Ronaldo went to Juventus, and I have not seen the international markets change. Yes, I would prefer the likes of Messi, Neymar and such great players to play in the La Liga, but it is not a determining factor. We have been working for years so that the La Liga is above clubs and players in all aspects.

On whether Barcelona could handle the Lionel Messi situation better

It is difficult for me to answer. I need to have more data. I don’t know how many meetings they have had. How many meetings did Messi have with Barcelona? It is very difficult to know all these things. Secondly, you have to remember we are talking about human relationships, people’s characters. We are not talking about machines, but people, their moods at different times. So I really do not know the mood of the chairman of Barcelona, Messi and people around him (during the time)…I am afraid I can’t say any more.

On Barcelona’s financial crisis

We are reading about Barcelona’s financial problems but the situation is not as bad as the headlines say. You need to know that if you have a debt, it needs to be in line with your revenues. I think they have a billion (euros) in debt but they also generate one of the highest revenues in the world. So when the pandemic comes to an end FC Barcelona can change their strategy slightly and easily get through their problems.

In India, there are big multinational companies and if we look at their balance sheets, we find that they have big debts. And that does not mean anything unless you take their revenue into account. Barcelona has said that before the pandemic they had a billion euros in revenue which was equal or more than their debts. They still have 725 million (euros) in revenue and so they need to reduce the salary volume like most companies are doing around the world. Their revenue capacity has not gone down a lot and they will be able to recover when things get back to normal.

On reports of non-payment of December salary

Barcleona, like big clubs, have their own payment methods. And I do not think it is about non-payments. Anyways, in general terms, Barcelona are more worried about… not having a chairman at the moment, their elections getting delayed and it is important for them to have executives and a chairman to make a decision.

On financial control put in place by La Liga

The idea behind it was to make Spanish football healthy. If we look at the figures available, the Spanish clubs, excluding the big clubs like FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, owed three 300 million euro before the control was put in place and now prior to the pandemic they were earning 300 million euros.

The economic control has also meant that the Spanish clubs can adapt to new situations of financial crisis like the one the world is facing now. This means the clubs are more financially sound and can face the crisis when they are having less revenues. This is truly something that other competitions can learn as prior to every season, La Liga determines how much the clubs can spend on the salaries of the players and the technical staff. We do studies on their spending and the revenues and hence this has become quite a successful model.

On how La Liga is helping the Spanish clubs come out of the crisis

We are helping them by making them follow the economic control rules, which put a cap on the salaries of the players and spending of the clubs as a whole.

On lessons learnt during the pandemic

…That you have to make a lot of decisions in different areas. I never thought it would be healthcare-related, competition protocols to be able to play matches etc. Important decisions have to be taken very quickly. We can’t leave them entirely to speculation. We should not be worried about having to make certain decisions depending on the situation. Those are the lessons we have learned. Maybe you should always be ready for such extraordinary circumstances, which can arise.

On La Liga’s broadcast strategy in India

India is a market where we have Facebook and we have worked on a special model for the audio visual. It is a social media (channel) that is broadcasting football matches and now we are looking at the tender. In the Indian market, the priority is not actually the amount of money. I can tell you that. We want to see the treatment and the exposure that we will have with our product. The tender has got a lot of new things and there could be a situation where several people could win the legal rights in India.

On bringing a La Liga club to India for an exhibition match like Gerona in 2017

It is possible. These clubs have a lot of commitments. For example, Barcelona and Real Madrid, had it not been for the pandemic, had their calendar chalked out. You have to take into account the technical issues. We cannot do a lot about that, but yes, we do have the intention and we like to work on these kinds of matches. We would like to go to India. I am sure we will achieve this. We have to see the right time. India is not as far as many other countries, which means it is more viable.

On Indian Super League

The Indian federation has reorganised it well with the ISL, which is very important. One of the factors in football is that you have to be patient with development. It is a 15-20 year project and in that time India will surely grow a lot as far as football is concerned. Your worst enemy is trying to be quickly No. 1 in any sphere of competition.

And to reach that level of excellence India needs to have enough coaches and train the clubs to track and groom talent in an organised manner by having good academies. India is a huge country and I am sure there are many good footballers like the many good cricketers it has. And to do that, you need to find them and that can begin at schools.

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Rahane doesn’t get angry when bowlers go wrong, Virat’s energy mistaken for anger: Arun | Cricket News




NEW DELHI: Made of “steely nerves”, Ajinkya Rahane has such calmness that bowlers don’t feel scared when they fail to execute a plan under him while regular skipper Virat Kohli‘s energy is sometimes mistaken for anger, India’s bowling coach Bharat Arun said on Wednesday, describing the two contrasting leaders of the side.
Rahane led India to a historic 2-1 series-win in Australia after Kohli went on paternity leave.
“When it comes to Ajinkya, he is a calm person. Rahane might look calm from the outside but there is a steely nerve in him,” Arun told India off-spinner Ravi Ashwin on his YouTube Channel.

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“He backs players and looks calm and even if a bowler goes wrong, he might not be scared of the captain. He knows that he will be backed,” he added.
Rahane’s calm demeanour helped the team move on from the Adelaide disaster when the side was bowled out for 36 in the second innings.
“With Virat Kohli, if you bowl two bad balls, it might look like he will get angry, but that’s just his energy. Ajinkya brings the calmness, of course, even if he buys-in the plan, he makes sure he executes it to the T,” Arun said.

Asked if the biggest learning from the Australia tour is that there are many ways of skinning the cat, Arun said, “You hit the nail on the head.”
“That has to be this tour’s biggest learning. Instead of imposing it on players, we should make them express themselves. And for anyone to express themselves, there has to be a process.

“But to define that process and make that player agree on the same is the coach’s top priority. But full credit is to the player because he is the one who goes there and delivers them under pressure and given the experience of our bowling attack, the pressure is immense.
“To perform under pressure is the challenge. And our players accomplished that challenge exceptionally well. They saw that challenge as an opportunity.”
The 58-year-old revealed that head coach Ravi Shastri absolutely hates to see Indian bowlers concede boundaries. This was in reference to Shastri’s plan to dry up runs for the Australian on the off-side.
“He will follow the match from the dressing room. But he absolutely hates it when a bowler concedes a boundary. He doesn’t want bowlers to concede a run.

“That’s what he wants. When we bowl, we should keep on taking wickets. And when they are bowling, we should keep on scoring runs. If someone concedes two boundaries, he will shout. If someone concedes a boundary, I know that I am going to be shouted at.”
The coach said he shares such a relationship with Shastri that they debate and fight on different viewpoints but in a detached way.
“His style is usually, ‘No half measures, there’. He conveys us whatever he thinks. I will listen to him patiently. Some of them will be brilliant, some of them will be debatable. Most of them think that myself and ravi Shastru are close friends and that we get along really well.
“But we both have our share of fights as well. For any relationship, arguments are very good because we see it from a detached point of view. We think, ‘what is good for this Indian team’ from a detached point of view. Likewise we are our own critics as well.

“His dialogue delivery is more like our superstar Rajnikanth’s. When he starts talking in our huddle, the energy level is insane. So whatever is discussed, he conveys it to the boys with his added enthusiasm and confidence. That is important for the players. ‘Whatever we do they are only seeing our effort and not the outcome.”
Talking about Mohammed Siraj, who was India’s highest wicket taker in the series, Arun said he is a special talent and it showed when he was only a net bowler during his early Hyderabad days.
“Siraj has both hunger and anger. I saw him at RCB as a net bowler. He was not even in probables in Hyderabad. He had pace and aggression in nets. He will do exactly the same we want him to do.
“If he does not do, you shout at him with genuine care, he will smile and do it. It took him first to Hyderabad side then Hyd, India A. His biggest strength is his confidence in himself,” he said.

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IOC chief Bach calls for ‘patience’ over Tokyo Games | Tokyo Olympics News




LAUSANNE: Olympic chief Thomas Bach called on Wednesday for “patience” over the Tokyo Games, the holding of which this summer are in continued doubt due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We just have to ask for patience and understanding, is the main message,” Bach said after an executive board meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“I think it is too early to decide anything else,” he added.
The Games were originally to have taken place last year but were postponed in the face of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, becoming the first Olympics to suffer that fate in peacetime.
The IOC and the Japanese organisers rescheduled the Games for July 23 to August 8 this year.
But several media reports have claimed that the Games cannot go ahead, something an exasperated Bach was quick to play down.
“We’re not losing time or energy on speculation… about whether the Games are taking place,” the IOC president said.
“We’re working on how the Games will take place.”

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