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Fifa medical chief warns against a football return.

Byline: PA SPORT STAFF Coronavirus latest

FIFA medical chief Michel D'Hooghe has warned against a return to football before September.

Top-flight clubs will work to standardised return-to-training protocols as part of the Premier League's 'Project Restart', with a reported resumption date of June 8. But Ligue 1 has become the second major European league to be cancelled, after the Eredivisie, as French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced no sporting events, including rugby's Top 14, even those behind closed doors, could take place before September.

And D'Hooghe, a FIFA council member and medical committee chairman, hopes from a personal viewpoint that all leagues follow suit.

He told Sky Sports: "The world is not ready for competitive football, I hope this can change very quickly and I sincerely hope it does, believe me, but I think it is not the case today. Today you need some more patience.

"Football remains always a contact sport and one of the first things that everybody says is that you should avoid contact at the moment. Football can only be possible if contacts are possible again.

"That's my personal opinion, I engage only myself with that."

D'Hooghe added that yellow cards should be handed out to players who spit on the field when action resumes.

The Belgian doctor acknowledged that spitting "is a common practice in football and it is not very hygienic".

He told the Daily Telegraph: "This is one of the reasons why we have to be very careful before we start again. I am not pessimistic but I am rather sceptical at the moment."

The French Prime Minister's announcement also puts the Tour de France in doubt again.

The Tour is currently due to start on August 29 in Nice and conclude in Paris on September 20, having been moved from its original dates of June 27-July 19.

Meanwhile, World Athletics has launched a fund to support athletes experiencing financial hardship during the coronavirus pandemic. Athletes who are struggling financially amid the suspension of competition will be able to apply for part of a PS400,000 hardship fund launched by World Athletics and the International Athletics Foundation.

Lord Coe, who is World Athletics president, will lead a panel that will assess applications and allocate money.

Coe said: "Our professional athletes rely on prize money as part of their income and we're mindful that our competition season, on both the track and road, is being severely impacted by the pandemic.

"We are hopeful that we will be able to stage at least some competition later this year, but in the meantime we will also endeavour, through this fund and additional monies we intend to seek through the friends of our sport, to help as many athletes as possible."

But the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics will be "scrapped" if it is not possible to hold the event in 2021, according to Games president Yoshiro Mori.

The coronavirus pandemic has already forced organisers to move the Games back by a year so that they now run from July 23 to August 8 next summer.

As the president of Japan's medical association, Yoshitake Yokokura, warned it would be "difficult" to stage the Olympics safely before a vaccine is found, Mori said they will not be delayed a second time.

"No," he told Nikkan Sports when asked if they could be moved to 2022. "In that case, the Olympics will be scrapped. Unless an effective vaccine is developed I think it will be difficult to hold it next year, "I'm not saying at this point that they shouldn't be held. The outbreak is not only confined to Japan... it's a worldwide issue."
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Author:PA SPORT STAFF Coronavirus latest
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Apr 29, 2020
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