Australia

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Australia’s A-League suspended until April 22

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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.

VIDEO: Sydney derby ends even as A-League continues

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The Sydney Derby ended in a 1-1 draw in Australia’s A-League continued on Saturday.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

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.

China’s women’s team quarantined in Australia over virus fears

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BRISBANE, Australia — China’s national women’s soccer team has been quarantined in Australia ahead of an Olympic qualifying tournament as fears spread about the outbreak of a new virus that has killed more than 130 people.

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Health officials in Queensland state said on Wednesday that 32 people, including players, coaches and staff, traveled through the virus-effected Chinese city of Wuhan a week ago. The team was placed in isolation by border officials after arriving in Brisbane from Shanghai on Tuesday, and will be confined to a Brisbane hotel until Feb. 5.

Queensland Health said the squad was traveling with a team doctor and none has shown symptoms.

The Olympic regional qualifying tournament had been relocated from Wuhan to Nanjing before the Asian Football Confederation moved it to Sydney, Australia, because of concerns over the deadly coronavirus. Now it likely will be delayed.

The tournament had been scheduled to kick off next Monday with a double-header of China against Thailand followed by Australia against Taiwan.

It’s the final stage of regional qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, which begin in July. The top two teams were supposed to advance to a home-and-away playoff for the last spot at the Olympic tournament.

Football Federation Australia on Wednesday placed a hold on ticket sales for the tournament.

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The Chinese team trained in isolation before departing for Australia and players and staff all underwent testing before departure.

“They went through all the same checks that any Chinese national flying in from China would have gone through,” FFA chief executive James Johnson was quoted as saying by Australian Associated Press. “We’re confident in the government’s checks and balances.”

The FFA said it was notified of the latest advice from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, that health experts believe the coronavirus is contagious before people show symptoms, and contacts of any confirmed cases must be isolated following exposure.

China has cut off access to Wuhan and 16 other cities to prevent people from leaving and spreading the virus further. The outbreak has infected more than 6,000 on the mainland and abroad. British Airways and Asian budget carriers Lion Air and Seoul Air have suspended flights to China and other airlines are reducing the number of flights to the country as demand for travel drops because of the outbreak.

Ryan pledges wildfire donation for every save in Premier League

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Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan is using the work of his peers to contribute to a tragic event back home.

Wildfires are ravaging Australia and are set for an increase in furor to the extent that authorities are asking a quarter-million people to leave their homes.

According to NBC News, combining 2019 fires in California, Brazil and Indonesia still amounts to less than half the burned area in Australia. Twenty-seven people have been killed due to fires stretching over 25.5 million acres of the continent.

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The Brighton and Hove Albion keeper wants to play his part. He announced Friday that he will donate $500 for every save made by Premier League goalkeepers this weekend.

Ryan thanked everyone for their donations and attention so far, but was sure to note that the damage and grief caused by the fires are worse than many realize at this stage.

The Aussie backstop is third in the Premier League in saves with 75 this season, and is the top-rated goalkeeper according to stat service SofaScore.

Australian federation, players’ union close gender pay gap

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SYDNEY — Australia’s football federation and players’ union say they have agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement that closes the pay gap between the men’s and women’s national teams.

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The new four-year CBA announced Tuesday ensures the Socceroos and Matildas receive a 24 percent share of an agreed aggregate of generated revenues in 2019-20, rising by 1 percent each year.

Under the agreement, players are entitled to 40 percent of prize money on qualifying for a FIFA World Cup, representing an increase from 30 percent. That share of prize money increases to 50 percent if they progress to the knockout stage of the competition.

“The new agreement reflects football’s determination to address issues of gender equity in all facets of the game and build a sustainable financial model that rewards players as national team revenues increase,” a joint statement said. “Significantly for the Matildas, a new three-tiered centralized contract system will see Australia’s finest women’s footballers provided with increased annual remuneration with the tier 1 players earning the same amount as the top Socceroos.”

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The agreement still doesn’t reflect equal remuneration: the Socceroos’ prize money is exponentially greater than the Matildas.

Local media reported that at the 2018 men’s World Cup in Russia, the Socceroos earned $5.5 million just for qualifying, and then failed to win a game. The Matildas earned about $700,000 for making the knockout stages at the Women’s World Cup in France this year.

Critics say the women will still end up with a much smaller share and that the teams should share the same percentage of a total prize money pool.