COVID-19 pandemic to cost football N5.4trn this year  —- FIFA



The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to cost club football 14 billion dollars (about N5.4 trillion) this year worldwide, a leading official at global football body FIFA said on Wednesday.

Olli Rehn, who heads the FIFA committee set up to tackle the effects of the pandemic, said the cost is around one third of its value.

He added that FIFA, along with financial consultants, had estimated the club game to be worth between 40 billion dollars and 45 billion dollars worldwide.

Rehn said the figure of 14 billion dollars was based on the current scenario, where football is slowly restarting after a three-month hiatus earlier this year.

But the FIFA official stated that it would be a “different ball game” if the pandemic did not let up.

“Football has been hit very hard by the coronavirus pandemic,” Rehn, a former EU commissioner and now governor of the Bank of Finland, said.

“It has created plenty of turmoil at different levels with some professional clubs facing very serious difficulties.

“I’m also very concerned about youth academies and lower division clubs.”

Rehn said that football in South America had been especially hard hit, while Africa and Asia were also a concern.

“It is a real danger that the good work that has been done developing football in Asia and Africa could be ruined. So, we want to soften the blow and maintain the development that has been done,” he said.

FIFA has allocated 1.5 billion dollars to help tackle the effects of the pandemic and Rehn said 150 of the 211 member-associations had so far applied for funds.

He said that, while football was slowly re-awakening, another downturn could not be ruled out.

“The critical thing will be whether a vaccine will be developed and can be used, and that we have medical and other means to fully contain and tame the pandemic, and that is uncertain,” Rehn said.

“We cannot rule out worse developments and that would be another ball game if the pandemic were to continue in a severe form next year. Now we are working on the basis of the current scenario.”

Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Source: NAN


Sweden friendly moved to Russia over virus entry restrictions




Stockholm, Sept. 23, 2020  An upcoming friendly between Sweden and Russia has been moved to Moscow due to Swedish coronavirus pandemic rules, the Swedish Football Association said on Wednesday.

Sweden is not able to host the Oct. 8 match under restrictions limiting unnecessary travel to the Scandinavian country.

It will not allow travel from anywhere other than from other European Union (EU) countries, as well as Britain, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

“Unfortunately, we are forced to move the match against Russia since we still have not received any word from the government —- in spite of the fact that we sent a letter already since Aug. 27,” said Hakan Sjostrand, secretary general of the Swedish Football Association.

He added that the strict rules applied in international football would have entailed “a significantly lower risk of the spread of infection compared with other permitted occupational categories.”

The Russia friendly is part of Sweden’s preparations for 2020/2021 UEFA Nations League matches away to Croatia on October 11, and Portugal three days later.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Source: NAN

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Bayern Munich, Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt warned for coronavirus concept breaches



Bayern Munich and Schalke 04 have been warned by the German Football Federation (DFB) for breaking coronavirus concept guidelines during the opening game of the Bundesliga season.

The DFB said on Wednesday that a repeat would see “the start of an investigation’’ and possible charges at the organisation’s sports court.

Both clubs’ leadership were pictured in the Allianz Arena stand, in separate delegations, sitting together without social distancing or masks.

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said there had been a misunderstanding between local Bavarian rules and guidelines laid down by the German league (DFL).

Eintracht Frankfurt, meanwhile, were warned for two of their players bringing their children into the inner part of the arena.

The DFB said this was in spite of the fact that currently relatives are not allowed into the “this especially protected zone’’.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Source: NAN
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Mali: Court fixes Friday to hear suit challenging ECOWAS sanctions



The ECOWAS Court of Justice has fixed Friday to hear two interlocutory applications in a case instituted by two associations in Mali against the ECOWAS Commission and the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.

The case is challenging the legality of the Aug. 18 sanctions imposed on the Republic of Mali, following the military coup against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

In the interlocutory application filed by the Malian Coalition and the Consumers Association of Mali, both registered in the country, the associations are asking for the orders of the Court suspending the sanctions.

A statement issued by the media unit of the Court on Wednesday in Abuja, said that the association also sought for accelerated hearing of both cases challenging the sanctions.

According to the case with suit no /36/20, the two associations claimed that the President of the Commission acted ultra vires in imposing the sanctions.

They argued that the procedure was not in conformity with the relevant ECOWAS texts under which sanctions should be brought against Member States for failure to honour their obligations to the Community as this is reserved for Heads of State and Government of the Community.

The plaintiffs are being represented by Mr Modibo Diakite, Mr Oumar Tounkara, Mr Abdrahamane Diallo. Mr Maxime Poma and the law firm of SCP d’Avocats DO-FINI CONSULT.

They durther claimed that the sanctions, which were enforced by neighbours Côte d’Ivoire and Niger with the closure of their borders, are negatively impacting on a population already ‘bruised by insecurity, the Covid-19 pandemic as well as poor governance.”

“In the initiating application filed before the Court on Sept. 9, the associations claimed that the sanctions constitute not only the violation of the right of the people of Mali to the freedom of movement guaranteed in ECOWAS texts.

“But also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the economic, social and cultural rights of Malian citizens in the Community as well as their right to non-discrimination.

“Among the reliefs sought is an order for the payment of compensation for prejudices suffered in the sum of 1,000,000 CFA francs for each individual, another 10,000,000 CFA francs for each legal person as well as the payment of the same amount for the violation of human rights.

“The associations also prayed the court to order the state of Côte d’Ivoire to pay a symbolic 1 CFA to the plaintiffs for the violation of their human rights through the discriminatory treatment of Malians,” it said

According to the statement, a three member panel of the court comprising Justices Dupe Atoki (presiding), Keikura Bangura and Januária Tavares Silva Moreira Costa will hear the case.

It said that the proceeding will be virtual and can be followed via “Zoom” using the ID: 849 4983 1562 with the passcode: 6650799 10am on Friday.

Edited By: Dorcas Jonah/Sadiya Hamza
Source: NAN
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Science & Technology

HP, AUC sign MoU to foster entrepreneurial skills in Africa



HP Inc, American multinational information technology company, on Wednesday said it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with African Union Commission (AUC) to foster entrepreneurial learning in Africa.

HP, in a statement, said the aim of the MoU was to further cement the collaboration in building entrepreneurial skills across the continent and leverage HP Foundation’s Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (HP LIFE).

According to the statement, HP LIFE provides people in the region with access to 32 free, online courses in seven languages to build key business competencies as set out in the Agenda 2063.

Agenda 2063 is Africa’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future.

“HP Inc. and the AUC have agreed to exchange information and material on enhancing quality education for learners and entrepreneurs in Africa.

“We have also agreed to organise symposiums and conferences on education and skills development initiatives by leveraging on the online platform HP LIFE,” its said.

The platform aims  to enroll a million users between 2016 and 2025 as  part of HP’s commitment to enable better learning outcomes for 100 million people globally by 2025.

According to the statement, the aim of the MoU was to ensure closer collaboration and exchange of information between the parties, in a manner that creates synergies in Youth Skills Development, Academic Exchanges, and Research in Africa.

Commenting, Issam Essadiqi, Interim Managing Director, HP Africa said: “HP is driving access to quality education globally to enable anyone and everyone to build skills to compete in the digital economy.

Essadiqi said that making education more accessible and effective helps people get better jobs, launch small businesses,  create opportunities for their families and communities.

” HP believes technology can be the great equaliser in education and is using it to enable students to get access to quality education in the classroom and beyond,” Essadiqi said.

The AU Commissioner for Human Resource, Science and Technology, Prof. Sarah Agbor, said: “The partnership with HP will accelerate our education response to COVID-19 and beyond to ensure accessible and continued learning for African youth.

“The African Union’s education agenda, which has a focus on digital learning, is well complemented by the opportunities that the work with HP will bring about for African youth.

“In line with prioritizing distance learning, the partnership will support individuals and institutions of learning to provide the requisite expertise and opportunities, “Agbor said.

NAN reports that HP LIFE was first offered through hundreds of local training centres in countries such as Nigeria, Tunisia, South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya, to help people learn the skills to start or grow a business or improve their employment prospects.

In 2012, HP LIFE expanded to an online platform. Since 2016, over 116,000 men and women across Africa have already received HP LIFE training.

Edited By: Wale Ojetimi
Source: NAN
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