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Nyesom Wike: “Real Madrid Academy Port Harcourt is a legacy for Rivers State”

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Governor Wike

During the opening day of the 83rd AIPS Congress at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest in Hungary, the Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria,  Nyesom Ezenwo Wike took the stage to share his vision for a project he holds dear – the Real Madrid Academy based in his capital, Port Harcourt.

Wike, who is described by many in Nigeria as the “Sports Loving Governor” began his presentation by reflecting on the genesis of his relationship with AIPS. “My relationship with AIPS started in 2017 when the president of AIPS Africa Mitchell Obi led a delegation to pay a coutesy call to me in Port Harcourt where I was pronounced and subsequently honoured in 2018 with the Power of Sports award in recognition of our humble contribution to the development of sports in Rivers State. Since then we have continued to relate with the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), as well as the AIPS, to advance our mutual interest. AIPS is an organisation I hold in high regard, for its commitment, for the promotion and development of sports across the world.”

At the 81st AIPS Congress in Brussels two years ago in May, where Governor Wike was decorated with the AIPS Africa Power of Sports award, he gave a hint about his plan to build a Real Madrid Football Academy. Later, in the same month, AIPS President Gianni Merlo was invited to Nigeria to witness the laying of the project’s foundation on May 28, 2018 by the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Ahmad Ahmad.

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Governor Wike announced to this latest Congress in Budapest that the Academy has now been completed and commissioned in September 2019 and has already admitted its first set of students from a local youth team that won a national football championship. The facility can accommodate 500 boarding students, he added.

“It is true that the future of any country or society is revealed in the character and quality of its youths, but what the youths eventually become in life is also founded on the quality of education and skills they acquire to the age of responsitbility.

“Sports and education are both important and can co-exist as a medium to drive the development, character and prosperity of our youths; this was the motivation for the establishment of the Real Madrid Academy, Port Harcourt.

“Football, among other sports, presents itself as one of the best possible ways to raising generations of young people with character and determination to achieve outstanding results and prosperity,” Governor Wike stated.

He added: “The Real Madrid Academy is expected to foster youth development by nurturing and producing talented football players for the state as well as inculcating critical skills and life values that will benefit our youths beyond the football sphere. The academy is a legacy for Rivers State.”

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While the Academy is focused on nurturing Rivers State-born talents majorly, Governor Wike made it clear that 30 percent of the academy’s admission slots will be reserved for the rest of Nigeria and Africa. In this way, the academy is also making an impact on the continent. WIke also assured that the academy will continue even after his tenure as governor has come to an end.

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£53m Deal: Chelsea close to signing Werner

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Chelsea are closing in on a deal to sign striker Timo Werner from RB Leipzig, British media reported Thursday.

The 24-year-old had been thought to be attracting interest from Premier League champions-elect Liverpool but it appears Chelsea have in fact met the German’s reported release clause of some £53 million ($67 million).

Were Chelsea to bring Werner to Stamford Bridge it would be a major feather in the cap of the west London club.

For the past year, there has been speculation linking Werner with a move to Anfield but time appears to be running out for the Reds, with the forward’s release clause expiring on June 15 — two days before the Premier League is set to restart after a coronavirus-enforced break of several months.

The Germany international has scored 31 goals for Leipzig in all competitions.

Chelsea have already agreed on a deal to sign Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech.

AFP

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3 months after, English premier league to start by June 17

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The Premier League season is set to restart on June 17, three months after it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was widely reported on Thursday.

No matches have been played in the English top-flight since Leicester’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa on March 9, with Liverpool just two wins away from securing the title.

The BBC reported that the first two matches would be Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal. Those matches are the two games in hand.

A full fixture list would then be played on the weekend of June 19-21, the reports said, with matches to be played behind closed doors.

The Premier League suspended all fixtures in March after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for COVID-19.

There are still 92 matches to play and although Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool appear certain to be crowned champions, the relegation and European qualification still need to be resolved.

– Training return –

Top-flight clubs voted unanimously on Wednesday to return to contact training and were meeting again on Thursday to discuss issues including the restart date and the rebate to broadcasters.

It is predicted that clubs face repaying up to £340 million ($419 million) to broadcasters.

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So far, just 12 people have tested positive for coronavirus after 2,752 tests across the Premier League.

Germany’s Bundesliga resumed earlier this month and La Liga in Spain hopes to return from June 11, while a crucial summit between Italian football officials and the country’s sports minister will be held later on Thursday.

Liverpool are 25 points clear at the top of the table while Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City are in the relegation places.

The leaders could clinch the title with victory in their first game back should second-placed Manchester City lose to Arsenal.

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho spoke this week of his desperation to get playing again after seeing football resume elsewhere.

“Honestly, since the moment the Bundesliga started, the Portuguese league and Spanish league announced a date to start, I think it is the most difficult moment for us, because we want to play,” he told Sky Sports.

Some players have voiced fears over their safety and that of their families due to the virus.

Watford captain Troy Deeney has revealed that people have told him they want his baby son to contract coronavirus after he chose not to return to training.

Deeney has been absent from training since Watford and other Premier League clubs returned to non-contact sessions last week.

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“I saw some comments in regards to my son, people saying: ‘I hope your son gets corona’,” Deeney told CNN Sport.

“That’s the hard part for me. If you respond to that, people then go: ‘Ah, we’ve got him’ and they keep doing it.”

Deeney is understood to be due to resume training next week.

AFP

 

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In Spain, five footballers test positive for COVID-19

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No fewer than five players from Spain’s top two leagues have tested positive for coronavirus, La Liga confirmed on Sunday.

Players in Spain’s top-flight and Segunda division were allowed to carry out individual work at training grounds last week.

The move was the beginning of a staggered training programme, with the aim to restart competitive games in the middle of June.

La Liga insist identifying infected players through positive tests are part of that plan.

The five players, who have not been officially named, will now be quarantined at home and tested again “in the next few days”.

They will be allowed to rejoin their club’s training programme only after obtaining two consecutive negative test results.

A La Liga statement read: “Among La Liga Santander and La Liga SmartBank (Segunda) clubs, five positive cases were detected in players, all of them asymptomatic and in the final phase of the disease.”

“One of the objectives of these medical tests, according to the La Liga’s protocol for returning to training, according to recommendations of the CSD (Supreme Sports Council) and the Ministry of Health, was precisely to detect the denominated or asymptomatic, that is, those people who are infected and that, without presenting symptoms, they can infect other people,” the statement added.

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“In this way, we guarantee everyone’s safety when returning to work according to the occupational risk regulations.”

La Liga’s training plan includes players initially carrying out work individually before then expanding into small groups and finally taking part in larger team sessions.

Barcelona’s players were back for their first session on Friday while Real Madrid’s will return on Monday.

The medical protocol for training is strict and includes players arriving already changed and at specific times to avoid contact with others. They wear masks and gloves, and have their temperatures taken before entering the premises. At the end of training, they take away a bag of fresh kit for the next day and shower at home.

The league have not officially announced the timing for the resumption of competitive matches although Leganes coach Javier Aguirre said last week the proposed date is June 20.

That could correspond with the Spanish government’s de-escalation programme, which includes outside events being allowed to go ahead in their fourth and final phase, as long as they are attended by fewer than 400 people.

Football matches are expected to be staged behind closed doors for several months.

La Liga president Javier Tebas has said “it is not an option” to cancel the top flight given he estimates the economic fallout would cost clubs around a billion euros ($1.08 billion).

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But the third and fourth tiers in Spain will not complete their seasons, as confirmed by the Spanish football federation (RFEF) on Wednesday. Instead, promotions will be decided through play-offs and there will be no relegations.

 

Source: AFP

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