Soccer

John Oliver hilariously rants on Liverpool title paused by coronavirus

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AP

John Oliver hilariously rants on Liverpool title paused by coronavirus

Liverpool halted the march to its first-ever Premier League title last week, and for good reason.

The league suspended play through April 4 after Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for the coronavirus. The British government recommended Monday that citizens commit to social distancing and avoid large crowds "for some weeks," leaving the Reds' eventual coronation up in the air.

John Oliver, a diehard Liverpool fan and host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight," focused entirely on the latest surrounding the coronavirus in Sunday's episode. That is, save for the 30 seconds (and change) he allowed himself and his viewers to voice disappointment with something that the virus' spread has put on hold. Oliver, naturally, chose the Reds.

"Here's the thing: I've waited my entire adult life for this! They were about to win the title for the first time in 30 years. They were 25 points ahead of Man City! Twenty-five points! That's a historic margin, and you're telling me it could be for nothing?

"Mo Salah deserves to be a Premier League champion. Jurgen Klopp deserves this, and I know he's pointed out in a beautiful essay that you should look up that we should not worry about the league right now, we should keep things in perspective. But the very fact that he wrote something like that just makes me want him to win the title even more! I want to see the trophy go through the [Bill Shankly gates at Anfield]!"

A buzzer interrupted Oliver's opining, but the comedian paused a bit after saying it was "out of his system" and hilariously kept going.

"It just feels like they should really give Liverpool the league title because they've basically already won it," Oliver quipped. "That actually would be fair!"

Oliver noted that "[it's] not like anyone's gonna catch up from a 25-point deficit, anyway" after the buzzer's second intereuption but his production team wouldn't let him get another word on Liverpool in edgewise by buzzing in a third time.

"OK, ok!" Oliver said. "You're right! You are right! Sports are not important right now. They're not important right now. I mean, they're not really important ever, but they're especially not important now."

The Premier League is one of many leagues around the world -- soccer and otherwise -- postponing their seasons in order to halt the coronavirus' spread. Liverpool fans have waited three decades since their last top-flight title. If the Premier League ultimately resumes its season, what're another few weeks or months with public health in mind?

Earthquakes' Thompson wants focus on coronavirus, not sports right now

Earthquakes' Thompson wants focus on coronavirus, not sports right now

Earthquakes right back Tommy Thompson had an early read on the coronavirus pandemic. But even seeing the entire 11-million population of Wuhan, China on complete lockdown, he didn’t know how or if it would translate to North America or beyond.

“We were all just confused by it,” Thompson told NBC Sports California of discussions with his teammates. “There wasn’t any real indication from the league or management that this would have the potential to cause our league to come to a standstill.”

The Quakes had completed a full training camp, and already played their first two matches when MLS suspended the season in mid-March.

“It’s been bizarre,” Thompson said. “My heart goes out to everyone affected by coronavirus, and at this point, everyone has been affected some way or another.”

Recently as two weeks ago, the MLS had targeted a return for May 10, which might already seem outdated, and distant from life priorities. Thompson says the best approach might be to avoid the highs and lows of over-speculating.

“It’s important for us to focus on the virus and fattening the curve,” Thompson said. “After that, sports will come. Life will return back to normal. It’s important to look forward to that time, but you can’t get too caught up in getting excited or disappointed.”             

In the mean time, the Sacramento native has been keeping busy with two new-found activities: Cooking, and launching his YouTube channel.

He recently uploaded more than 50 soccer trick and instructional videos, specifically aimed at keeping a young audience entertained and developing their skills.

[RELATED: Premier League extends coronavirus stoppage]

“I wanted to challenge kids of the United States to do different skills that I used to work on in the garage of my home,” Thompson said. “I thought now would be the perfect time to communicate that it’s still possible to practice.”

Thompson has seen rewarding growth, from literally zero, to tens of thousands of views in a week.

“It shows that kids need this right now,” Thompson said. “And it makes me excited to see that they’re staying productive by watching, and doing these drills at home.”

Premier League extends coronavirus pause, proposes 30 percent wage cut

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AP

Premier League extends coronavirus pause, proposes 30 percent wage cut

The Premier League is pushing back its restart date indefinitely amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it announced in a statement Friday.

After bringing together the league’s top officials on a video conference, it was decided that the original hopes to begin playing again at the beginning of May were premature.

“It was acknowledged that the Premier League will not resume at the beginning of May,” the statement read. “And that the 2019/20 season will only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so. The restart date is under constant review with all stakeholders, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic develops and we work together through this very challenging time.

“The Premier League is working closely with the whole of professional football in this country, as well as with the Government, public agencies and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the game achieves a collaborative solution.”

[RELATED: Best PL storylines we would've watched if season continued]

Players also are facing a wage reduction of up to 30 percent as the league deals with the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

Until health officials declare that social distancing regulations can be lifted, don’t expect to see much in the way of live sports.