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May 27, 2020

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Pep: Medics are the special ones

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes the protocols he and his players must follow for football to return are a small sacrifice compared to those risking their lives on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis.

Guardiola’s mother died at the age of 82 in April after contracting COVID-19.

“We follow the rules, the protocol. We have to. That’s the most important thing. We don’t do anything special,” Guardiola told the City website.

“The special ones are the doctors, nurses, scientists, cleaners — they put their own lives at risk to save ours.

“When it’s a special situation around the world, you have to adapt.”

English Premier League players returned to training last week, whilst maintaining social distancing guidelines.

The UK government has now given the green light for contact training to resume, with clubs set to vote on the protocols today.

Should the EPL, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League all be completed, City could face 17 games in little over two months once the action gets under way.

But Guardiola is pleased with the fitness of his players given they have not played competitively since March 8.

“I think they were looking forward to coming back and to train again and do what they like,” the Spaniard added. “They came back perfectly.”

Even when football does return in England, matches are set to be behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.

Fears have been raised over the possibility that fans could congregate around stadiums, but there has been little evidence of such problems in Germany since the return of the Bundesliga.

And Guardiola encouraged fans to continue adhering to the health and safety guidelines.

Social distance

“We want to come back but now the priority is other things. It’s still stay safe, be careful and when everything is possible we will come back,” he said.

“The most important thing is to follow the instructions. If they say use a mask, stay at home, social distance, we have to do it. Because there are many, many people in the NHS (National Health Service) around the world who put their own lives at risk to save ours.

“It’s incredible what they have done, and we have to follow them. Now, we cannot do anything wrong.”

In France, relegated Amiens yesterday joined Lyon in saying that it will challenge the decision to end the Ligue 1 season early before the Council of State, France’s highest administrative court.

The club opposes the April 30 decision by the French Football League, or LFP, to end the season due to the coronavirus pandemic, after the government said sports leagues could not resume until September at the earliest.

Amiens was relegated from Ligue 1 as the second-bottom team after the final table was decided based on points per game, with 10 scheduled rounds of matches remaining.

“Amiens is still fighting against this decision which we find unfair, incoherent and unfounded,” Amiens President Bernard Joannin said.

“The LFP board of directors has pronounced an arbitrary relegation of our club.”

Lyon, which missed out on qualification for the Europa League after finishing seventh, said on Monday that it would also appeal at the Council of State.

Lyon President Jean-Michel Aulas also wrote a letter on Monday to France’s prime minister and sports minister urging them to reconsider the decision to end the season, with the government expected to announce next week a further easing of the lockdown.


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