SYDNEY — Australian soccer’s A-League has suspended its season indefinitely, bringing an end to all professional football competitions in Australia and New Zealand until the coronavirus pandemic passes.
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Football Federation Australia chief executive James Johnson announced the decision Tuesday, saying the latest measures imposed by the federal government made it impossible for the A-League to continue. The league had only a few regular-season rounds remaining before the playoffs. Johnson said the postponement will be reviewed on April 22.
“As a national competition played in all parts of Australia, as well as New Zealand, mission complicated became mission impossible,” Johnson said.
He remained optimistic the season could resume and said the postponement likely was “heartbreaking” for players, clubs and fans. All soccer in Australia from community to professional level has now been halted.
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“We will feel this,” Johnson said. “We will feel the financial pressure on the game at all levels. The game will survive. Will we need to make changes, be different? I say yes.”
The multi-national Super Rugby competition suspended its season last week and attempts in Australia and New Zealand to create domestic competitions for their teams have been put on hold.
Australian rules’ Australian Football League suspended its season Sunday after only one round. The National Rugby League followed suit on Monday after two rounds. In each case government restrictions on national and international travel, on public gatherings and non-essential activities made continuing untenable.
The Sydney Derby ended in a 1-1 draw in Australia’s A-League continued on Saturday.
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One of the only games on the planet took place in an empty stadium as the crosstown rivals locked horns with Sydney FC taking the lead but Western Sydney Wanderers struck late on to grab a point.
Below is a look at what happened at the Bankwest Stadium as Sydney FC remain eight points clear at the top of the table with two games in hand over second-place Melbourne City FC.
WSW are in eighth place on 26 points. Not all A-League games are carrying on amid the coronavirus pandemic but there the Newcastle Jets do host Melbourne City on Monday morning (U.S. time) and a full slate of games is scheduled for next weekend.
If you want to get your soccer fix with most leagues in the world postponed right now, the A-League could well be your answer.
Former Reading striker Adam Le Fondre gave Sydney FC the lead in the first half and celebrated by bowing to the empty stands.
But in the last 10 minutes Western Sydney Wanderers made it 1-1 as Kwame Yeboah didn’t know much about but his incredible reactions deflected home this effort.
Football Federation Australia chairman James Johnson confirmed that the A-League season and W-League final will be played behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Two of 11 A-League clubs are currently in a 14-day isolation, as six rounds of the 2019-20 regular season have yet to be played.
“This is an unprecedented time and extremely complex for the sport and society at large,” Johnson said in a press conference on Monday (Australia time).
Following a game in New Zealand, Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory, now back in Australian soil, are in self-isolation for the next 14 days. Neither team will be able to train during the mandatory quarantine period. The FFA confirmed that games involving both sides in Round 24 and 25 will be rescheduled for a later time.
“The decision to play the remainder of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season, and the Westfield W-League 2020 Grand Final behind closed doors was made in consultation with the clubs and in accordance with the latest Federal Government advice,” Johnson added.
“The health and safety of all members of the football community, including players, coaches, referees, volunteers, administrators and fans continues to be of paramount importance. We will continue to work with the Government and seek advice as the situation changes.”
Despite only having six rounds left (30 games) in the season, the FFA decided against suspending the league all together. Instead, the six remaining regular season rounds will be packed into a three or four week period.
“We have got 30 matches left, six competition rounds to go, it is our intent to compress the rest of that season,” FFA’s head of leagues Greg O’Rourke said. “We have spoken to the clubs. And we’re now speaking to the venues to see whether or not it’s possible for us to complete those six rounds in three to four weeks.
“We will also have all our games behind closed doors,” he added.
More coronavirus connections to soccer:
SYDNEY (AP) The third Sydney-based club in Australia’s A-League will be known as MacArthur FC.
The club’s logo, featuring a bull, the back, white and ochre colors and name were unveiled in a ceremony at Campbelltown in Sydney’s southwest on Wednesday.
MacArthur will be the 12th team in an expanded top-flight competition from the 2020-21 season after A-League organizers decided last December to add two clubs.
Sydney FC was a foundation club in the relaunched A-League and won the first premiership title in 2006. Western Sydney Wanderers joined the competition in 2012.
A third club from Melbourne, Western United, is set to join the competition next season, joining four-time champion Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City in the national top flight.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
SYDNEY (AP) Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder Roly Bonevacia has alleged Adelaide United fans made racist comments to him during an A-League match played at Adelaide on Boxing Day.
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The Dutch midfielder said on his social media account after the match, which finished 2-2, that he had heard racial slurs.
“Next time keep the racist comments to yourself (at)AdelaideUnited fans!!” Bonevacia wrote on Twitter. “Don’t ruin the game! (hash)sayno.”
Football Federation Australia (FFA) said Thursday it had been made aware of an incident and is working closely with both clubs and the venue to investigate what occurred.
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“FFA condemns any form of racist or non-inclusive remarks and will not tolerate it at any time,” the organization said in a statement on its website.
The allegations follow an incident last month where Brisbane Roar goalkeeper Jamie Young, of Scottish and Sri Lankan heritage, was racially abused by a Western Sydney fan in an A-League match at Mudgee, New South Wales.