Soccer

UEFA postpones Champions League, Europa League finals amid coronavirus

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AP

UEFA postpones Champions League, Europa League finals amid coronavirus

UEFA postponed the finals of its three biggest intercontinental club competitions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the organization announced Monday.

The men's and women's Champions League final and the Europa League final, all of which were scheduled for May, have been pushed back indefinitely. The European soccer governing body said in a statement that "[no] decision has yet been made on rearranged dates."

Twelve teams -- including the Premier League's Manchester City and Chelsea -- remain in contention for the men's Champions League with half of the Round of 16 completed, while the women's Champions League has not yet kicked off its quarter-finals. The Europa League, which Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United still are competing in, completed all but one of its first-leg fixtures from the Round of 16 before UEFA postponed all of last week's matches.

UEFA also announced last week that it was postponing the men's Euro 2020 to 2021 and rescheduling the women's tournament that originally was supposed to occur that year, in large part because of the coronavirus disrupting the calendars of club competitions across the continent. The Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A have all paused their seasons in an effort to halt COVID-19's spread.

Though Liverpool have the Premier League title all but wrapped up, spots in next season's Champions League and Europa League and the relegation places still need to be determined ahead of next season. UEFA's competitions this season affect the following campaign, too, as the Europa League winner automatically qualifies for the Champions League.

Beyond where and when the remaining matches this season are played (and who they're played in front of), all of the European leagues will need to address who is playing in said matches. The Premier League alone will have 69 players out of contract on June 30, according to ESPN's Ian Darke, and numerous others are set to have loan deals end at around that time. It's not yet clear if out-of-contract players would become free agents at that time.

European soccer, much like all of the world, still is navigating the knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic. That undoubtedly will continue long after play resumes.

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.