French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet believes Lyon chief Jean-Michel Aulas has "gone a little too far" with his recent criticism.

Aulas has been unhappy with the decision to cancel the rest of the Ligue 1 season due to the coronavirus pandemic as Lyon finished seventh in the table.

The Lyon president feels officials called off the remainder of the campaign too soon, with the Bundesliga resuming and Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A still trying to restart.

But Le Graet believes Aulas' criticism has gone too far, telling Canal+: "We have known each other for so long. He sees me coming, I see him coming.

"On the other hand, he defends the interest of his club with too much vigour sometimes. Lately, he has gone a little too far.

"I told him either on the phone or through the press, but he is caught up in the desire to play this Champions League."

Lyon are still in the Champions League last 16 and Coupe de la Ligue final.

At home and missing football amid the coronavirus pandemic, Nagoya Grampus goalkeeper Mitch Langerak is eager for the return of the J1League.

The J1League and Japanese football have been suspended since February due to the COVID-19 crisis, which has wreaked havoc globally.

While South Korea's K League kicked off behind closed doors on May 8, the J1League remains in limbo following the coronavirus outbreak, which has seen over 16,200 confirmed cases in Japan and 744 deaths.

Unlike the K League, the J1League had completed the opening round of fixtures before the 2020 season came to a halt almost three months ago.

Australia international and former Borussia Dortmund keeper Langerak told Stats Perform: "As far as we're all aware, Japan has a bit of handle on things at the moment. It's positive signs and the people in Japan are very cautious and disciplined, so they will always do the right things. We trust their judgement. Hopefully when the time is right, we will kick-off again."

The 31-year-old, who swapped LaLiga's Levante for Nagoya in 2018, added: "It's difficult. The first two weeks was like 'oh this is okay, we will have a week or two off and we'll slow things down and make up those two games somewhere during the year so it's not a big issue'. But now it's been something like three months.

"We've played one game, when normally we might even be 13 games in. It's difficult mentally because you're spending a lot of time at home, you're missing that feeling inside the change room with the team every day, that competitive nature. It's quite hard not being able to have little skirmish or games in training, when you're fighting to win. That's something that I find quite challenging, just coasting and not really knowing when we're going to get back into it, if this is going to drag on a bit longer.

"The thing is, everyone is in the same boat. Not just athletes, everybody. We're all in this together. Everyone has their own little challenges. It definitely does make you realise how much you love the sport, the game, love going to training. Normally, you're like 'ah, we have training tomorrow, we have a double tomorrow' or something like this. You sort of dread it, but now it's like give me a double session, a triple, go on training camp, I don't care I just want to get back out there.

"I guess it's like that saying, 'you don't know what you've got until it's gone' and that's quite true right now. I feel like everyone in society are wanting to go back to work as well to get back ingrained in society."

Nagoya – who finished 13th last season, behind champions Yokohama F.Marinos – drew 1-1 at Vegalta Sendai on February 22 prior to the postponement.

"It's difficult because we're doing home training sessions via Zoom," Langerak, winner of two Bundesliga titles and other domestic honours under Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund, said. "Everyday at 11am, the whole team is on Zoom. We're doing certain workouts for an hour. Once that’s finished, we have a running program or different types of things.

"I have a bit of a home gym, so I do all of my work here after we do those Zoom meetings, it keeps me ticking over. I feel fit, I feel strong. Hopefully, as soon as we get the green light, we will be back on the training ground whether that's in small groups or entire group together."

United States president Donald Trump wants to see "big crowds" at the rescheduled Masters.

The 2020 Masters was moved from April to November due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 316,000 people worldwide.

Trump is hoping Augusta can welcome plenty of fans, despite the United States being hit hard by COVID-19.

"We want to get it back to where it was. We want big, big stadiums loaded with people," Trump told NBC on Sunday.

"We want to have, when you have the Masters, we want to have big crowds. Right now, that's not what they're planning, but you never know.

"Things can happen very quickly."

Trump was speaking as Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson beat Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in the TaylorMade Driving Relief skins match, raising over $5.5million for coronavirus relief.

The USA has more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of coronavirus, with its death toll exceeding 90,900.

Reds trio Izack Rodda, Isaac Lucas and Harry Hockings have been stood down amid a pay dispute.

Rugby Australia (RA) and the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA) reached an agreement on a new pay deal last month amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But Rodda, Lucas and Hockings have refused a pay reduction and their nomination for the Australian federal government's JobKeeper subsidy, the Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) said in a statement on Monday.

"Many industries in Australia are facing the same circumstances as sport in this country and the majority of our people have agreed to reduced hours under the federal JobKeeper legislation, which is assisting businesses such as ours through the COVID-19 pandemic," QRU chief executive David Hanham said.

"We understand this situation is difficult for everyone and individual decisions need to be made to protect the long-term viability of rugby in Queensland.

"As we have outlined before, these conditions are necessary at present and allow the QRU to create a financial bridge to the other side of this pandemic.

"Unfortunately, we have had to take the decision to stand down three of our players. Given the recent negotiated player-payment reduction agreement, this was not a situation the QRU had expected to face.

"As we build towards the likely resumption of community and elite rugby, the QRU remains focused and on track to deliver on its three goals during the COVID-19 period – to ensure the health and safety of our people, to protect the financial viability of the QRU and to ensure the safety and viability of our clubs."

RA director of rugby Scott Johnson said the players were "looking at their legal position", although he hopes a resolution can be found.

Australia, which has more than 7,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 99 deaths, is looking to launch a Super Rugby competition in the country in early July.

Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson beat Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in the TaylorMade Driving Relief skins match as live golf made its return to TV, raising over $5.5million for coronavirus relief.

Golf has been on hiatus since the PGA and European Tours were suspended in March due to the COVID-19 crisis, though the plan is for the season to restart in June.

In the meantime, McIlroy/Johnson and Fowler/Wolff went head-to-head all in the name of charity in Florida on Sunday.

No caddies were allowed at the historic Seminole Golf Club, where all players carried their own bags in the behind-closed-doors event.

A play-off was needed after 18 holes, with $1.1m unclaimed heading into the sudden death closest-to-the-pin challenge.

McIlroy secured the remaining money with a wedge at the 17th, pushing the world number one and Johnson to $1.85m and past Fowler/Wolff's $1.15m.

The American Nurses Foundation benefited from McIlroy and Johnson, while Fowler and Wolff played for the CDC Foundation.

The season is set to resume with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas on June 11-14.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas congratulated the Bundesliga on its return to action and for providing an example for others to follow.

Following a two-month hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Germany's top flight this weekend became the first major European league to resume.

All the games are being played behind closed doors, while most people not on the field wore masks and observed social-distancing protocols.

Spain has been among the countries hit hardest by the COVID-19 outbreak, with over 277,000 confirmed cases and more than 27,000 deaths.

Tebas was impressed by the work put in to get the Bundesliga back up and running and is pleased to have a blueprint to follow.

"I'm very pleased. I have congratulated the CEO of the Bundesliga," Tebas told El Partidazo.

"They have done a very important job and I am very proud. It is the example to follow."

Tebas will not have the final say on when LaLiga can resume and wants games to be played on Mondays, which fans have regularly protested against and Royal Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales opposes.

"It will be determined by the health authorities. I want it to be as soon as possible. We are working for the resumption from June 12," Tebas said.

"I hope it is also on Mondays and that there is sensitivity on the part of the federation. The fans' problem no longer exists in this situation."

LaLiga clubs were able to open their facilities for individual training sessions last week and can start working in limited groups from Monday.

"The players have to be focused. Each new phase allows you to be with more people and you have to be careful," said Tebas.

"With the security measure we have, it is practically impossible for there to be a contagion in training."

Minnesota Vikings safety Anthony Harris has signed his franchise tender and will reportedly earn around $11.4million next season.    

Harris, who joined Minnesota as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Virginia in 2015, tied for the NFL lead in 2019 with six interceptions.  

In a Twitter post on Sunday, Harris said he hopes to be able to remain with the Vikings past the 2020 season.  

"I will let my agents and the Vikings work towards long term certainty in Minnesota, but I am excited to be back for the 2020 season," Harris said.

Harris has appeared in 65 regular-season games with the Vikings and made 164 tackles to go along with nine interceptions. All of those picks have come in his past 25 games.

"During the past five years, Minnesota has become home and is where I want to continue to develop as a player having only scratched the surface," Harris said.

Dedryck Boyata insists he was "explaining a set-piece" to Marko Grujic after he was accused of flouting social-distancing advice and planting a kiss on his Hertha Berlin team-mate.

Hertha were 3-0 winners against Hoffenheim on Saturday as the Bundesliga became the first major European league to resume since the suspension of the 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

Precautions were taken in games, with substitutes wearing masks and sitting significant distances away from each other, but Boyata appeared to kiss Grujic on the cheek.

However, Boyata took to Instagram to offer a different version of events.

"It wasn't a kiss, neither a celebration," he wrote accompanied by a video of the incident.

"I apologise for putting my hands on @grujicmarko face. I was giving him instructions about a set-piece.

"We must definitely be careful now that we play under this situation. We have to adapt our way to play or celebrate."

Borussia Monchengladbach players hugged after scoring twice early in their 3-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

The German Football League (DFL) said it will not penalise players for celebrating, though it did offer guidance on the matter.

But state minister for Bavaria Markus Soder said stricter rules must be enforced in line with hygiene protocols.

"Football has an extreme function to be a role model, so we should stick to our instructions and pay attention to it next week," he told Sport 1.

"The players must also obey the rules."

On the Hertha incident, he added: "I didn't like it."

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver was charged with driving while intoxicated and unlawfully carrying a weapon on Saturday in Houston. 

Police found and pulled over Oliver's vehicle after another driver called 911 to say Oliver was failing to maintain a lane and driving dangerously in a construction zone. 

A Montgomery County Sheriff's deputy said Oliver had an open beer between his legs and was given a field sobriety test. 

Oliver was then transported to a hospital for a mandatory blood draw before being jailed. Police said a search of the vehicle discovered a pistol. 

Buffalo selected Oliver with the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of the University of Houston. He was named to the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team after posting 43 tackles and five sacks while appearing in all 16 regular-season games. 

"We are aware of the situation and we are gathering more information," the Bills said in a statement. "We will have no further comment at this point."

Peter Bosz understood why Hertha Berlin's players celebrated in close proximity on Saturday, but the Bayer Leverkusen boss is keen not to see a repeat.

The Bundesliga returned in empty stadiums on Saturday after a two-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Hertha recording a 3-0 victory at Hoffenheim.

However, while precautions were taken in the games - including mask-wearing substitutes sitting significant distances apart from one another - there was no social distancing being observed when Dedryck Boyata appeared to plant a kiss on the cheek of Marko Grujic after one of the goals.

The German Football League (DFL) has confirmed it will not sanction players for celebrating, though it has offered recommended guidance on the matter, and Bosz wants players to avoid letting emotions get the better of them.

"In the beginning we talked about emotions and they are part of football," he said at his news conference to preview Leverkusen's trip to Werder Bremen on Monday.

"I can imagine that when Hertha scores at Hoffenheim, that they want to celebrate. They must not do it this way. I know that.

"Next time, I don't think they'll do it that way. But goals are emotional moments in which they may have forgotten.

"You're not allowed to do that, but I can imagine that it happens from time to time."

Bruno Labbadia, who was taking charge of his first game at the Hertha helm, had suggested that the frequency of testing meant his players should be allowed to celebrate in such a manner.

"Celebrating goals is part of football. We have been tested so often that I think you can allow it," Labbadia said.

"It would be a shame if you weren't allowed to celebrate any more.

"I hope people out there understand it. It is just a recommendation [from the DFL] to hold back.

"We have tested negative six times, most recently on Friday. Emotions are part of the game, otherwise we don't need to play it."

LaLiga clubs have been given approval to begin training in groups of up to 10 players from Monday.

Following LaLiga's coronavirus hiatus, players were allowed to resume individual work on May 4 as the country began to de-escalate its lockdown measures.

Although strict guidelines are set to remain in place for Madrid and Catalonia over the coming weeks, the lockdown is being eased in many other regions of Spain, with Saturday's COVID-19 death toll dropping to 102, the lowest daily figure for two months.

But in accordance with government regulations and protocols, clubs will be able to resume group sessions at their training bases from Monday.

Initially teams will be required to work in groups of no more than 10 players, but they are still not permitted to use changing facilities and must arrive and leave individually.

The groups must work on different pitches, or at the very least in opposite halves.

Each group of players will be allowed to use gym facilities at the same time, as long as social distancing is adhered to and disinfection protocols are maintained.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas is hopeful of resuming the 2019-20 season on June 12, with Germany's Bundesliga the first of Europe's top-five leagues to return to the pitch following its resumption on Saturday.

Former New Zealand full-back Ben Smith has denied speculation that he will rejoin the Highlanders.

Smith joined Top 14 side Pau after the Rugby World Cup in Japan last year, bringing an end to his illustrious All Blacks career.

There has been talk the 33-year-old could be on his way back to the Highlanders for the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.

However, Smith says he will be no more than a spectator when his former club resumes action after the Super Rugby season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He posted on Instagram: "Super Rugby Aotearoa looks like a great concept

"I'm looking forward to supporting the Highlanders and watching them give it a crack. I'm not sure where the speculation has come from but I won't be playing in this year's competition.

"I'm looking forward to getting alongside my club side in Green Island and getting back to grassroots where it all started."

The Super Rugby Aotearoa, featuring the Highlanders, Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes and Crusaders, starts on June 13.

Inter have confirmed all medical tests carried out on its playing, coaching and management staff returned negative results.

Serie A clubs are allowed to resume group training from Monday, having been permitted to return to team bases for individual sessions on May 4.

Every team in Italy's top flight is conducting testing as Serie A works towards a resumption of the 2019-20 season, which has been suspended since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An Inter statement read: "FC Internazionale Milano announces that all of the results from Friday's medical tests on the club's players, coaching staff, management staff and the remainder of the team group have returned as negative."

The league and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) are yet to agree on medical protocols set by the government for the competition's return.

The health ministry wants entire teams to be quarantined for 14 days if a player tests positive, while clubs and the league believe such measures would make a restart impractical and favour a scenario where only the individual in question is isolated.

A June 13 resumption has been suggested, with inter-regional movement to remain limited until June 3.

On Saturday, Parma confirmed two players had been placed in quarantine ahead of the return to group sessions.

 

 

 

Sevilla forward Munir El Haddadi is in favour of LaLiga resuming the 2019-20 season from June 12, convinced that gives teams long enough to prepare.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused mass disruption to sport across Europe and Spain's LaLiga has been no different, with a ball not being kicked since early March.

Although lockdown measures look set to be extended again in Madrid, in many other areas of the country they are being relaxed, with Saturday's COVID-19 death toll of 102 people being the lowest daily figure in two months.

Monday will mark a fortnight since players were given the green light to return to individual training, while sessions in groups of up to 10 are set to begin at the start of the week, even for the Madrid-based clubs.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has outlined Friday June 12 as his target for a return to the pitch behind closed doors, with matches played "every day for 35 days", and Munir sees no issue with that date.

"Well, as far as I know they haven't told us anything," Munir told Marca when asked about potentially resuming the season with a derby contest against Real Betis.

"If it has to be played, then we will play. We have to train hard to be the best we can when they say.

"I think it [June 12] is fine. Four weeks already gives you time to do things. The best thing is the sooner you open to work in a group, which is what we need.

"We want to play, all with caution because we have been stopped for a long time. It is not the same as being on vacation – [it's been] two months locked up without being able to go out or train well. Little by little, we have to do more and safely."

Prior to the season's pause, Munir had struggled for first-team football at Sevilla this term under Julen Lopetegui, despite an encouraging first few months at the club following his move from Barcelona last January.

But the Spain international insists he and Lopetegui get on well, and he is eager to repay the backing he receives from fans before he contemplates moving on.

"It is true that from there [the Copa del Rey defeat to Mirandes in January] I do not play and it may seem that way, but I tell you that with the coach I get along very well and there is no problem," the Barca youth product said.

"And if there has been a problem, it can be solved by speaking. There has been nothing, we have never discussed or anything like that. I am going to continue working, trying to grow and helping the team.

"Really, and I have thought about this many times – I have to return the affection that Sevilla is showing me.

"I think I can give a lot to Sevilla and the fans that are so spectacular. They have always supported me, whether I'm in this situation or playing."

A mooted third fight between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield has been criticised by some, yet Larry Holmes has given the heavyweight bout his approval.

Tyson, 53, recently returned to training and the former world champion has said he would be interested in donning the gloves again for some charity exhibition fights.

His old rival Holyfield, four years Tyson's senior, has since confirmed he will fight again to raise money for young people struggling because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The possibility of the two fighting each other once more appears very real, with Holyfield confirming that though nothing had been agreed yet, it was "coming that way".

Promoter Eddie Hearn suggested it would be "a bit irresponsible" to allow Tyson to return to the ring given his age, but Holmes, who was a heavyweight champion for seven years between 1978 and 1985, does not agree.

"If these guys want to do it, I'd say go ahead and do it, I'm not going to say don't do it," said Holmes, who was speaking on behalf of @trcksuits.

"They get a chance to show what they got and if they look good enough, they're probably going to get an opportunity to fight somebody in the top 10 [heavyweights]."

Tyson and Holyfield have met twice before, in 1996 and 1997.

Holyfield won the first meeting with an 11th-round stoppage that saw him take Tyson's WBA belt.

The second fight ended in dramatic circumstances when Tyson was disqualified for biting Holyfield's ears, acts that led to a hefty fine and suspension.

If the two meet for a third time, Holmes believes Holyfield would have the psychological advantage.

"Evander Holyfield is a good fight for Mike Tyson, but it's also a bad fight because Holyfield knows him," he added.

"He fought him, beat him up. So Mike Tyson would have to worry about that, he's going to worry about it, it will be in his mind - 'Holyfield can hit me with this, that, this'. 

"He will try to be careful and that might hurt him."

World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit's future is up in the air after he requested to have his Stormers contract cancelled.

The South Africa flanker asked for his deal to be torn up before a 21-day window closed on Thursday.

Du Toit's team-mates Cobus Wiese and Jean-Luc du Plessis also submitted terminations notices, an option players were given in South Africa as part of cost-cutting measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The trio remain on the books of the Super Rugby franchise, though, as they are still contracted to Western Province Rugby and are set to hold talks over their futures.

A Stormers statement said: "There were just three players – Pieter-Steph du Toit, Cobus Wiese and Jean-Luc du Plessis – who submitted termination notices before the deadline on May 14.

"As previously indicated by WP Rugby, the existing contracts between the players and the company are considered as binding and WP Rugby has reserved the right to hold players to these contracts or exercise other rights that may be held.

"These options will be discussed with the players that have purportedly cancelled their contracts and more information about the course of action will be provided in future."

Hooker Malcolm Marx was another member of the Springboks Rugby World Cup winning squad who asked for his contract to be cancelled and is on the move from the Lions.

Police are probing an incident involving South Sydney Rabbitohs star Cody Walker, which the player himself instigated.

On Sunday, TV station Nine News reported Walker had informed police of an attempt to blackmail him for 20,000 Australian dollars over a video that allegedly shows him kicking another man in the chest.

The Rabbitohs did not refer specifically to any incident, adding Walker himself has not been the subject of a police enquiry and the NRL's Integrity Unit has been informed.

A Souths statement read: "The South Sydney Rabbitohs are aware of an incident involving player Cody Walker which took place in northern New South Wales in October 2019.

"The NRL's Integrity Unit have been informed.

"At no stage has Cody Walker been the subject of a police enquiry in relation to this incident.

"The Rabbitohs will be making no further comment on this matter at this stage as it is part of an ongoing police enquiry instigated by Cody Walker himself."

Mattia Binotto believes Sebastian Vettel will want to remain in Formula One and says there was a "mutual understanding" for his Ferrari departure.

The Scuderia this week announced that four-time F1 champion Vettel would leave the Italian team when his contract expires at the end of the 2020 season.

Carlos Sainz will take Vettel's seat next year, but Ferrari team principal Binotto thinks the German has the desire to take his place on the grid in 2021.

"I think he's so passionate about this sport. He'll want to get back into it, although he'll have a few things to think about. We're looking at a long-term project," he told Sky Italia.

"I think it was the right thing for him and for us. Only Seb knows what he will do in the future. He's a great driver and he'll make the right choice.

"He spent six years at Ferrari and the team has a special place in his heart. We have a good relationship with him, which isn't to be taken for granted when there's a parting of ways.

"There's a mutual understanding of the reasoning behind this change."

Binotto acknowledges signing 25-year-old McLaren driver Sainz is a "gamble", but thinks the Spaniard and Charles Leclerc can be a formidable pairing.

He added: "During this period, we've had time to reflect, mull over and reach this conclusion. We're pleased with our choice.

"The world has changed during this time and we have to look at the future of F1 in a different light. There's a new challenge that we must all embrace and we believe we've singled out the right person to complete our team.

"Carlos Sainz is a young driver and Ferrari haven't had such a young driver pairing in 50 years. It's a gamble for us and we're happy to be taking on this challenge. We want to begin a new cycle.

"It'll be a tough path, but putting faith in youngsters is also geared towards that, not just for the drivers, but also for the mechanics. Sainz is a very nice and intelligent guy.

"He is a real team player and works very hard, so having him alongside Charles will be useful. He's done well over the last five seasons and has almost always reached the finish line, earning his team so many points in the process."

Walt Harris vowed to come back stronger after a tough TKO loss to Alistair Overeem in an emotionally charged UFC heavyweight fight in Florida on Saturday.

Harris, 36, was stopped in the second round of his first bout since the disappearance and death of his stepdaughter, Aniah Blanchard, late last year.

The American considered quitting mixed martial arts before agreeing to headline what was the UFC's third event in eight days at an empty VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.

Harris almost claimed his 14th career victory after dropping Overeem in the opening round, but the eighth-ranked Dutchman recovered and made his vast experience count.

Speaking afterwards, Harris thanked the UFC, his team and the local community where he lives in Homewood, Alabama.

"I love you guys," he told ESPN. "I'm sorry I didn't get the 'W' for you tonight but you have been there for my family and me through everything.

"To the fans, I know you couldn't be in here tonight but you're all at home watching. I'm sorry, I'll be back better, I promise you. You haven't seen the last of The Big Ticket.

"I'm going to go home, recover, heal emotionally and physically and I promise I'll be better."

Overeem, who lost to Jairzinho Rozenstruik in December, consoled Harris after the fight and praised his opponent for the challenge.

"It was tough, he didn't want to give up. I felt he was tired but he hung in there. But I hadn't really tired," Overeem said.

Asked about his next objective, Overeem responded: "Let's look at the rankings, fight again later this year and maybe we're going to see if there's one more shot at the title."

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