In a Covid-19 stricken world, sports gives us the opportunity to take our mind off other negativities in life, pumping much-needed adrenaline. Yet another action-packed week passed by - while some events are worth remembering, others not, which brings us to this week’s Good, Bad and Ugly.
Indian football season kicks-off in Kolkata. Finally.
After months of drought, mainstream sports returned for the first time, with the Indian Football season kicking off at the football capital - Kolkata with the I-League qualifiers. While it was obvious that the matches would be played in front of empty stands, the arrangements were done with the latest SOPs in place. Five teams from across the country - Mohammedan Sporting Club, Bhawanipore FC, Bengaluru United, Garhwal FC, and ARA FC will fight it out for the coveted spot in the prestigious I-League. Two venues - Salt Lake Stadium and Kalyani Stadium will stage the scheduled matches in the tournament, with the final set of matches to be played on October 19. Mark the date, cause approximately after a month, the much-awaited Indian Super League will kick-start in Goa, with 11 teams aiming for the title. Rosy days are here indeed.
BCCI finally announce plans for the Women’s T20 Challenge
After much speculation and an anxious wait, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has finally announced the plans for the Women's T20 Challenge. Harmanpreet Kaur will lead the ‘Supernovas’ while Smriti Mandhana will take charge of the ‘Trailblazers’ unit. Meanwhile, veteran Mithali Raj will take care of the third team in the tournament - ‘Velocity.’ The three teams will face off each other in the United Arab Emirates from November 4 to November 9. While all the matches will be played at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, the Supernovas will begin kick-starting the tournament against Velocity on November 4, while the latter will be in action in the following day versus the Trailblazers. The final group stage match will be played on November 7, while the final will be staged at the same venue, on November 9. Apart from the best Indian players, a pool of elite foreign recruits from England, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh, and New Zealand will feature in the four-match tourney. While the Indian Premier League is already stealing the show, it’s time for the eves to grab the limelight.
Former Indian skipper Carlton Chapman passes away at 49
Former Indian International footballer Carlton Chapman passed away at the age of 49, on Monday last week, after suffering a heart attack in Bangalore. One of the top midfielders during his playing days, the footballer started his career way back in the 1980s, before making his first big breakthrough when he was roped in by Kolkata giants East Bengal in 1993. Following which he played for several clubs like JCT Mills and FC Kochin, before he returned to his former club at the Kolkata Maidan once again. It was during this time that she guided East Bengal to the 2001 National League Title. Simultaneously, Chapman made his International debut in 1991, was a regular in the national setup for a decade and it was under his leadership that India won the 1997 South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Gold Cup. Post-retirement, he was involved in many managerial roles, starting his journey at the Tata Football Academy, until his last assignment for Quartz FC, before he breathed his last.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Covid-19 scare and developments revolving around
While many athletes have been already hit with the deadly Covid-19 virus, Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo became the latest addition to the long list. The news came as a shock a day after their UEFA Nations League match against France, at the Stade de France, in Paris. Although asymptomatic, the forward missed the match against Sweden and is also ruled out of Juventus’ Champions League opener versus Dynamo Kiev, while his availability for the much anticipated Barcelona clash is yet to be announced. To pile on the misery, it is claimed by officials that the footballer had violated the protocols having returned to Italy on a medical flight after he was tested positive for the virus in Portugal. Hopefully, he recovers from the virus soon, while the unnecessary spats over social media should be dealt with deaf ears for the time being.
Liverpool and Manchester United’s proposed ‘Project Big Picture’ rejected
In what was a surprising development by two of England's biggest clubs - Liverpool and Manchester United and with the backing of the English Football League (EPL), a proposal touted as ‘Project Big Picture’ was laid in front, but eventually rejected by unanimous decision of all the clubs. As per the plans put forward, the number of teams in the Premier League would have been reduced to 18 from 20, while the EFL and Community Shield to be scrapped altogether. Moreover, the nine elite clubs - Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Man United, Man City, Southampton, Tottenham, and West Ham would be given special powers to rule changes, broadcasting rights, and also club takeovers, while a special $450 million ‘rescue fund’ will be created for EFL clubs. In an official Premier League statement, the refusal to adopt the policy was clearly stated, while the move came under criticisms from a few corners. For instance, Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani termed the proposed changes aimed at radically changing the Premier League’s structure and finances as a ‘disgrace.’
Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman hits straight at Antoine Greizmann
Barcelona has endured enough for this year - with the entire Lionel Messi saga hogging the limelight for weeks before the Argentine finally decided to stay at Camp Nou. Not only the humiliating loss against Bayern Munich saw Quique Seiten step down as the coach of the Catalan club, but the chain of events that followed revolving the club was one of the worst phases in their history. Even though things settled down and the new season finally kick-started, the recent development which cropped up involving midfielder Antoine Greizmann and coach Ronald Koeman is one to take note of. While the Frenchman was deployed in a right of a three-man attack, shifting from his original no. 10 role, the World Cup winner, after a 2-1 win over Croatia claimed that he felt good playing for the national team because the coach ‘Didier Deschamps’ plays him in his natural zone. Well, that did not go down too well with the Barcelona boss, with the Dutch manager advising the player to focus on delivering in the pitch rather than worry about his position. If you are a Barcelona fan, I guess you do not want a fresh controversy once again.