Tagged in: leagues

Houston J.J Watt says it’s still too early to make call on playing

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said Wednesday that it’s too early for players to make a decision on whether they’ll play this campaign given the many unknowns that remain with the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’ve been on the NFLPA calls the last couple times we’ve had them,” Watt said on a conference call when asked whether he’s made a decision on whether to play.

“I don’t think we’re anywhere … I don’t think we’re at a point yet where people are making that decision because we don’t have enough information yet to be making decisions like that. So I think that it’s a very fluid process, and I think it keeps coming up. Obviously … the report date gets closer and closer. But as of right now, we really don’t have enough information to make a decision like that, I would say.”

The Texans report to training camp July 25. They are programed to open the season at the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 10.

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Watt was asked whether he believes it is necessary to play preseason matches. The league canceled the NFL’s preseason-opening Hall of Fame Game and shortened the preseason from four games per team to two in order to help players acclimate to being back on the field after going through a virtual offseason program. Last week, a source told ESPN that the NFL Players Association’s board of player representatives voted to recommend canceling all 2020 preseason games.

“If the doctors and the PA doctors decide that it’s not in the best safety interest of the players to have them, then we don’t have to,” Watt said. “But I also at the same time think about undrafted guys and the guys who make a roster in the fourth preseason game and how special that is and how many opportunities would be missed from that. So I’m on both sides of the fence.

“I think obviously as a vet, personally do I think that preseason games for somebody in my situation is absolutely necessary? I would say, I don’t think so. But I think there are a whole bunch of people who need those opportunities and who live for those opportunities. I mean, it can literally change a life. So I see, I see the other side of it where somebody could literally have their entire dream come true because of those games, so that’s a very difficult debate to have.”

Watt stated he hoped the NFL was looking at the way the other leagues are operating in their attempts to return to play.

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UEFA sets leagues May deadline for restart plans

Uefa has set European football leagues a May 25 deadline to inform the governing body whether they plan to restart their domestic campaigns.

Almost all leagues across Europe ground to a halt last month as countries attempted to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

While outliers like the Belarus league continue despite the outbreak of Covid-19, major leagues in England, France, Italy and Spain are yet to resume, though some clubs are letting their players to use their training facilities under strict health guidelines.

The only league to pencil in a return date so far has been Germany, which hopes to resume matches in its top two divisions beginning May 9 as the country eases social distancing restrictions.

Uefa is keen to start planning for next season’s European club tournaments. In a letter to 55 member associations, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin wrote that any league cancelling its season would need to produce a list of teams that have qualified for European club competitions, also by May 25.

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“National Associations and/or Leagues should be in a position to communicate to Uefa by 25 May 2020 the planned restart of their domestic competitions including the date of restart and the relevant competition format,” Ceferin wrote.

“In the event that a domestic competition is to be prematurely terminated for legitimate reasons … Uefa would require the National Association to explain by 25 May 2020 the special circumstances justifying such premature termination and to select clubs for the Uefa club competitions 2020/21 on the basis of sporting merit in the 2019/20 domestic competitions,” he added.

Like all major sports, football has been brought to a virtual standstill by the pandemic, with even major tournaments, such as Uefa’s Euro 2020, postponed for one year, and continental club competitions put on hold.

While Uefa wants its member associations to complete their seasons, several, including Belgium and the Netherlands, have cancelled their seasons or declared them null and void, meaning no titles awarded and no relegations or promotions – a decision strongly criticised by some of the affected clubs.

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