The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), in effort to ease the financial pressure facing clubs in the Red Stripe Premier League, has decided to forego payments due from clubs on office rental, utilities, registration fees, contract administrative fees as well as home match levies, yellow and red card fees for the 2019-2020 season.

The date, November 22, 1986, The place, the Las Vegas Hilton hotel in the United States. The occasion, the WBC heavyweight championship clash between Jamaica’s Trevor Berbick and the USA’s Mike Tyson. Round two. Tyson almost knocks Berbick’s head off with a massive overhand right. Berbick, his faculties barely intact, initiates a clinch. Tyson wants none of it. He frees himself enough to land a booming right to the body, shifting Berbick’s intestines and internal organs like a housekeeper rearranging living room furniture. The the-20-year-old demon then goes for a murderous uppercut with the right. He misses. Tyson then connects with a left hook that must have felt like a crowbar as it crashed into Berbick’s left temple. The Jamaican falls. Legs like jelly and a brain giving his limbs 500 commands all at once, undermines Berbick’s attempts to stand and fight on. As he falls into the ropes like a bag of yam flung off a truck at the Coronation Market, referee Mills Lane gives the universal gesture signalling the fight is over.

History should by now have attached significance to what happened inside Committee Room 15 at Britain’s House of Commons in London on May 10, 2011. It was there that the former head of the Football Association in England, Lord Triesman made damning allegations about Austin Jack Warner as he addressed Members of Parliament sitting on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Triesman told the MPs that Jack Warner asked for £2.5 million to build an Education Centre in Trinidad and Tobago, with all the cash channelled through him. Lord Triesman also alleged that Warner asked for £500,000 to buy Haiti’s World Cup TV rights, again with all the money being channelled through him. The claims were shocking if only for the fact that it was the first time such a senior administrator had accused Jack Warner of corruption. It wasn’t only what Lord Triesman had said though. It was about where he said it. It wasn’t him talking at an after-dinner event or giving an interview to a journalist. He was, for all intents and purposes testifying to the highest decision-making body in Britain about the reasons for England’s failure to secure the rights to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Now Warner had long been rumoured to be jowl deep in corruption as he wielded awesome power as a FIFA Vice President, CONCACAF boss and head of the CFU. Indeed, the British journalist Andrew Jennings achieved fame through his ravenous hounding of Warner, whom he believed to have been the most corrupt administrator in all of sport. But despite numerous claims of wrongdoing, nothing ever stuck. It birthed the nickname ‘Teflon Jack’ as none of the mud slung at this son of Santo Claro could ever sully his reputation. In his heyday, which lasted for decades, Jack Warner was one of the most powerful men in the world, let alone sport or football. He was there on the couch at the White House in 2009 when his old friend, Joseph Sepp Blatter, presented jerseys to US President Barack Obama. He was the man who any nation preparing a bid for World Cups and big tournaments in CONCACAF and the CFU had to get on side if they were to have any hope of success in the voting process. He was a man who had an extraordinary work ethic, famously inviting associates for meetings at 5 am at his office, only for them to turn up at a quarter to five and be told that Warner could not chit-chat with them as he was already in a meeting with other associates. The same Warner would then be sending emails at 10 pm, leaving persons to wonder if he ever slept.

So Lord Triesman’s testimony was the start of the tide changing for Warner. Only 19 days after that statement to British MPs, Warner was suspended by FIFA for what was alleged to have been his role in the corruption of officials of the CFU at a now-infamous meeting held at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain. A month later, on June 20, 2011, Jack Warner resigned as FIFA Vice President and his long list of enemies now undertook the task of turning his fall from grace into imprisonment.

There’s no need to retell too much of his recent history. We all know Warner has gone to the UK Privy Council to fight his extradition to the USA to face multiple charges of bribery and corruption related to the awarding of rights for the hosting of World Cup tournaments. On March 18 this year, a fresh indictment was filed at the United States District Court (Eastern District Court of New York), naming Jack Warner among 17 defendants charged with a massive and sophisticated corruption of football as a sport and FIFA as a governing body.

With two hefty US Federal indictments and a laundry list of charges against him, Jack Warner appears to be Trevor Berbick fighting against Mike Tyson. The now 77-year-old has always maintained his innocence, staying true to his vow to fight the charges with every resource available to him. But the game appears to be up. If the first indictment and attendant charges were like the body punch that Tyson hit Berbick with 34 years ago, then this second indictment is like that left hook to the temple. Even if by some miracle he beats the charges, Warner’s name will never be cleared. For the tapestry of crimes woven by US prosecutors you feel that even if he’s acquitted, Jack Warner will always be in jail, just minus the bars. This is Warner’s extended Trevor Berbick moment. And the US prosecutors are like a prime time Mike Tyson, sizing up their target and going in for the kill. What chance does uncle Jack’s glass jaw have against a raging Iron Mike? Selah.

Belgium's Pro League have pushed back the date for a meeting to decide whether or not the 2019-20 season should be cancelled.

Last week, organisers recommended rendering the season void, with the coronavirus pandemic having seen all but a handful of sporting competitions across the world put on hold.

The unprecedented move would have seen Club Brugge declared champions and Waasland-Beveren relegated.

UEFA later insisted that any such decision was premature and that cancelling the whole campaign must be seen as "a last resort" by all member associations.

A Pro League general assembly had been called for April 15 to discuss the findings of a working group tasked with assessing the sporting and financial implications of declaring the season over.

However, a statement on Thursday confirmed the assembly has been delayed until April 24, when all Pro League clubs will be invited to attend.

"The members of the working group appointed by the board of directors are now continuing their duties," the statement added.

Bruno Labbadia has been named as the new head coach of Hertha Berlin.

The Bundesliga club have brought forward the appointment of the 54-year-old, who was originally due to take over at the end of the season before the Bundesliga was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Labbadia, who will take charge from April 13, succeeds Alexander Nouri in the role after he had overseen four games since the resignation of Jurgen Klinsmann.

"Due to the current situation regarding the coronavirus and the interruption to the season, we're currently experiencing a kind of early summer break," said Hertha managing director Michael Preetz.

"We have decided to take this opportunity to be able to prepare the team over the next few weeks for a possible continuation of the season."

Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert confirmed this week that the league plans to resume behind closed doors during May.

Labbadia was most recently in charge of Wolfsburg but left at the end of last season after leading them to a sixth-place finish in the league and qualification for the Europa League.

Hertha were 13th in the table when the season was halted due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Thomas Muller does not think he would have signed a contract extension at Bayern Munich were Niko Kovac still at the helm as head coach.

Former Germany forward Muller penned fresh terms at the Allianz Arena to run until June 2023 this week.

The 30-year-old will be forever synonymous with Bayern and sits fourth on their all-time scoring charts with 195 goals across 521 appearances.

However, he found himself out in the cold under Kovac, who was sacked in November.

Since Hansi Flick's arrival, initially as an interim head coach, Muller has been a player revitalised, netting six goals and supplying a remarkable 12 assists in 15 Bundesliga games.

"In autumn, I was left out of the starting 11 for six games in a row. It was difficult. Of course, it made me think," he told an online news conference on Thursday.

"Emotionally, it was very tense back then. I wasn't necessarily thinking that I would be extending my contract in the spring.

"With the change of coach and different playing style, everything has developed positively.

"Not only have I been playing more, but I've also been able to put my stamp on our games again."

Bayern's players returned to training in small groups on Monday, with the club offering assurances that "all hygiene regulations will be strictly observed" amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"We try to stick to what is specified from above," Muller said. "I don't know what is specified and restricted in other areas.

"We have to fit into the overall structure. I don't know if football has a special position."

He added: "We all want to play football, of course, but only from the point of view that makes sense. This is an exceptional situation, not only for football."

Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes it is imperative the Bundesliga resumes when possible for financial and sporting reasons.

Like most competitions around the world, the Bundesliga has been suspended in an effort to limit the impact of coronavirus.

However, it would appear Germany's top flight is closer to returning than other leagues as most teams have already resumed training in small groups, with games set to take place behind closed doors in early May.

There have been fears that some leagues may have to be scrapped entirely if they cannot be concluded in the coming weeks, yet Rummenigge is vehemently against that notion.

"We know that it is necessary to start again for two reasons," he told Corriere dello Sport. 

"The first is the sports one. You have to assign the title, know which team will participate in the cups, who will be demoted. 

"The second, no less important, is economic. Here the televisions that broadcast the games have a strong impact on revenues."

To help lessen the financial impact, Bayern and Germany's three other Champions League representatives in 2019-20 - Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen - have all pledged €20million to Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga clubs.

Rummenigge warned such collaborations will be necessary across the game after a decade of big spending.

"For 10 years, football has lived beyond its means and the clubs have taken all the risks," he added.

"In such a difficult moment, balance sheets do not count as much as cash.

"The crisis is global, the solution must be shared. The field can limit the damage. FIFA and UEFA must improve their relations and act economically."

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Trent Alexander-Arnold will be among the England players competing in a FIFA 20 tournament designed to raise awareness of the fight against coronavirus.

The Football Association has announced 16 players across England's senior men and women's teams, and the Under-21 squad, will take part in a competition that begins next week.

As well as underlining the importance of the United Kingdom government's advice for citizens to stay at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, the tournament will also highlight the National Emergencies Trust, a collection of community foundations that distributes money to charities.

Chelsea trio Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham will also compete in the tournament, along with fellow England players Callum Wilson and James Maddison.

Lucy Bronze, Jordan Nobbs and Ellie Roebuck - all part of Phil Neville's women's squad - will also be involved, as will Under-21 internationals Reiss Nelson, Todd Cantwell, Max Aarons, Eddie Nketiah and Ryan Sessegnon.

The opening round of the tournament begins on Friday, April 10.

Neymar is Lionel Messi's "natural replacement" and would love to return to Barcelona, according to Brazil World Cup winner Mazinho.

Brazil superstar Neymar departed Camp Nou for a world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the 2017-18 season but has consistently been linked with a move back to Barca.

Despite regular speculation ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, Neymar remained in the French capital and has scored 18 goals in 22 appearances across all competitions this term.

Neymar is once again being tipped to join Barca, though it was said at the time he left the club in part to try and escape the shadow of superstar team-mate and now six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi.

But Mazinho feels the 28-year-old is ready to come back and is capable of taking on Messi's mantle as Barca's talisman.

Speaking to Radio Marca, he said: "[Barcelona] would be delighted if he can return tomorrow.

"He is Messi's natural replacement. There is no other to replace Messi."

Mazinho's son Thiago Alcantara is part of a Bayern Munich side who returned to training this week amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bundesliga champions trained in small groups without contact and Mazinho, who was part of the 1994 World Cup-winning Brazil team, said he trusts the club have taken appropriate measures.

"[Playing football amid the coronavirus outbreak] is worrying because it is a complicated situation that we are all experiencing," he added.

"In Germany they are progressing in that sense, with group training.

"You have to be very careful with all this. If Bayern do it, they do it because there is no risk and they are providing security to all their footballers.

"My son must work and be as prudent as possible."

Despite an incredible comeback against Liverpool to book their place in the Champions League quarter-finals, 2019-20 was looking like far from a vintage season for Atletico Madrid.

Diego Simeone's side sat sixth in LaLiga when the coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of most sport around the world and had suffered a humiliating Copa del Rey exit to third-tier Cultural Leonesa in January.

However, six years ago they took a significant step in one of the most memorable campaigns in their history.

We look back at that and other standout sporting moments that occurred on April 9 through the years.

 

1912 – A Fenway first

It may not quite have been finished yet, but Fenway Park opened its doors for the first time for an exhibition match between the Boston Red Sox and the Harvard Crimson. After being forced to change at the nearby Park Riding School due to the clubhouse not being open yet, the players trudged through the snowy conditions to the diamond for the start of a new era. Casey Hageman threw Fenway Park's first pitch for the Red Sox to Harvard batter Dana Joseph Paine Wingate and he soon had the first of nine strikeouts.

1989 – Faldo in green

After heading into moving day in a tie for the lead, Faldo's hopes of triumphing at Augusta National and winning a second major appeared to be over when he slipped five shots off the pace upon completing his third round on Sunday morning. However, he ended up with the clubhouse lead later in the day by carding a brilliant seven-under 65 and a missed five-foot par putt on the 17th for Scott Hoch meant the two went into a play-off. Hoch's putting again let him down as he failed to close out the first sudden-death hole from two feet, and Faldo punished him by rolling in a 25-foot birdie putt at the next to don the green jacket for the first time. He would go on to win the tournament twice more.

1995 – Tendulkar shows signs of greatness to come

At the age of 21, the man who would go on to be dubbed the 'Little Master' scored his fourth ODI century as India defeated Sri Lanka in an Asia Cup match in Sharjah. Thanks to Tendulkar's outstanding 112 not out, India chased down their victory target of 203 with just under 17 of their 50 overs remaining. Tendulkar consequently became the youngest player to reach 3,000 ODI runs.

2013 – Dortmund deliver incredible comeback

There is something special about Champions League nights at Signal Iduna Park and the second leg of Dortmund's quarter-final against Malaga delivered a thoroughly memorable game. After a 0-0 draw in the first leg at La Rosaleda, Joaquin put Malaga ahead in the 25th minute, but Robert Lewandowski ensured Jurgen Klopp's side went into half-time on level terms. The writing appeared to be on the wall for Dortmund when Eliseu tapped in a second away goal from close range with eight minutes remaining, leaving the hosts needing to score twice more to avoid elimination. Marco Reus pulled them level in the first added minute and Felipe Santana bundled home in the 93rd minute to complete an incredible turnaround – though he appeared to be offside when he turned Julian Schieber's goal-bound effort home.

2014 – Atletico back in the semi-finals

Simeone led Atletico to Europa League glory in his first season at the helm and added the Copa del Rey and UEFA Super Cup in 2012-13. They appeared to be destined for new heights when they claimed a 1-0 victory over Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon to seal a 2-1 aggregate victory and book their place in the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 1974. Koke's back-post volley kept Atletico's hopes of a Champions League and LaLiga double alive, but they were only able to win the latter after Real Madrid beat them in the European final in Lisbon.

Could Lionel Messi swap Barcelona for Inter?

Messi has been linked to Inter since ex-president Massimo Moratti said the six-time Ballon d'Or winner joining the Serie A club was not a "forbidden dream".

The 32-year-old's future at Camp Nou has made headlines throughout the 2019-20 season.

 

TOP STORY – INTER WANT MESSI

Inter are seriously working on trying to sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to TNT Sports.

Former Inter president Massimo Moratti said the Nerazzurri luring Messi – contracted until 2021 – to San Siro was not impossible and speculation has intensified since those comments.

TNT Sports says Inter are ready to push through negotiations for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, while boyhood club Newell's Old Boys have also made an offer.

 

ROUND-UP

- AS Diario claims Manchester United and Juventus are both chasing Real Madrid outcast James Rodriguez. Napoli and Everton have also been linked to the Colombia international.

Philippe Coutinho is close to returning to the Premier League. Sport reports the former Liverpool star is nearing a loan switch to Chelsea from Barcelona. The Brazilian has spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern Munich.

Milan are interested in signing in-demand Brescia star Sandro Tonali, according to Calciomercato. The Italian has been linked to the likes of Juve, Inter and United.

- Juve star Paulo Dybala is set to sign a new contract with the Serie A champions, says Calciomercato. Meanwhile, the same outlet reports that Juve are interested in Roma midfielder Bryan Cristante.

- Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is chasing Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, says AS Diario. The Frenchman wants to sign the 17-year-old if Madrid are unable to lure Paul Pogba from United.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are among the clubs battling for Achraf Hakimi. The Moroccan full-back has spent the past two seasons on loan at Borussia Dortmund from Madrid. Juve, Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain are also reportedly interested.

Real Madrid star Toni Kroos said it was logical for players and coaches to take a pay cut amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Madrid announced that players and coaches from their football and basketball squads agreed to reduction in wages on Wednesday, with LaLiga and professional sport in Spain on hold due to COVID-19.

Directors at Madrid also accepted to voluntary reductions in pay for 2019-20 – the pay cuts will be between 10 and 20 per cent "depending on the circumstances that may affect the closing of the 2019-20 season", the club said in a statement.

Prior to the midweek announcement, Kroos had stated he was not in favour of pay cuts amid financial concerns but the Germany international explained his comments.

"It is possible that it [the interview] has not been translated correctly or that some do not want to understand," Kroos wrote via Twitter.

"From the first moment, my opinion, you know me well, is this: if we can help the workers and areas of the club, I see it as logical to renounce part of our salary, something that could be proven today."

In an interview with SWR Sport podcast on Tuesday, Madrid midfielder Kroos said: "Cutting salaries is like a donation in vain – or for the club.

"I am in favour of paying the full salary and let everyone do sensible things with it. Everyone is being asked to help where necessary, and there are many places where it is necessary."

Bayer Leverkusen have signed Kaiserslautern goalkeeper Lennart Grill, the Bundesliga club announced on Wednesday.

Germany Under-21 international Grill will swap third-tier German outfit Kaiserslautern for Leverkusen for the 2020-21 season.

Grill – whose deal with Leverkusen is until June 2024 – played in every game for Kaiserslautern prior to the postponement of football due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"A big step forward to a top German team. I've watched a lot of Bayer 04 games up to the season being suspended. As a spectator, it was great fun watching their high tempo, possession football," the 21-year-old said.

"Bayer 04 Leverkusen are a club with European ambition and I'm happy to soon be part of it."

Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes said: "We've been able to sign a very interesting and highly talented goalkeeper in Lennart Grill.

"It's a long-term signing and Lennart has great prospects. We are very happy we’ve been able to persuade him to join us."

Former Inter midfielder Benoit Cauet insisted the Nerazzurri can sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

Messi has been linked to Inter since ex-president Massimo Moratti said the six-time Ballon d'Or winner joining the Serie A club was not a "forbidden dream".

Barca captain Messi is contracted to the LaLiga champions until 2021 but his future is far from certain at Camp Nou, where he has clashed with board members this season.

"Of course Inter can sign Lionel Messi, there are no doubts that they could," Cauet, who won the UEFA Super Cup with Inter in 1997-98, said in an Instagram Live interview.

"President Steven Zhang has the financial capabilities and the potential ambition. He is a president who thinks big."

Messi – who moved to Barca from boyhood club Newell's Old Boys in 2001 – had scored 24 goals across all competitions before the 2019-20 season was postponed due to coronavirus.

The 32-year-old attacker tops the LaLiga scoring charts with 19 goals through 27 rounds.

The Bundesliga is aiming to resume in early May with games behind closed doors, German Football League (DFL) chief executive Christian Seifert has revealed.

Germany's top two divisions have been suspended until April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the John Hopkins University, the country has had over 110,000 cases of COVID-19 infection – the fourth most in Europe – with more than 2,100 deaths.

Seifert confirmed to the New York Times plans are being put in place for the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga to restart with spectator-free matches next month.

"We are part of the culture in the country, people long to get back a short piece of normal life, and that could mean the Bundesliga plays again," Seifert said.

"This is why we have to play our role here, and that means to support the government and to talk with the government about when we will be able to play again.

"The sooner we are finished, the more flexibility we can provide to the European football landscape."

Seifert also suggested that cancelling the season could put five Bundesliga clubs in serious financial trouble, while half the teams in the second tier would be "very much in danger to file for bankruptcy".

Bayern Munich chief executive Herbert Hainer said he expects the pandemic to lead to a significant reduction in transfer fees. Seifert believes a full collapse is on the cards.

"In the short term, I would say the transfer market this summer will not exist, it will collapse," he said.

"Some agents will suddenly understand that they will have to work hard, or at least work; some leagues will understand that money is nothing that is coming automatically every month from heaven."

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