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English FA allows Floyd justice messages by players in games

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English Premier League players will be able to show solidarity with the George Floyd justice campaign during games without the prospect of facing sanctions.

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The Football Association on Tuesday endorsed FIFA’s new stance that “common sense” would be applied when assessing the context of on-field messages on players’ equipment. The laws of the game prohibit “any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images.”

German soccer authorities said they may sanction players who used goal celebrations to highlight last week’s death in Minneapolis of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleaded for air.

But the English FA, which oversees disciplinary action for Premier League games, has given the green light for players using games to protest against social and racial inequality.

“Where any behaviors or gestures on the pitch that may constitute a breach of the laws of the game have to be assessed, they would be reviewed on a case by case basis with a common sense approach and understanding of their context,” the FA said in a statement when asked about players’ tributes to Floyd. “The power of football can break down barriers across communities and we remain deeply committed to removing all forms of discrimination from across the game we all love.”

The Premier League is due to resume on June 17.

Players from Premier League clubs Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle have been pictured this week in training taking a knee as part of anti-racism gestures sparked by the death of Floyd.

The England team tweeted a close-up photo of Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling high-fiving alongside the message “whatever our nationality. Whatever our race. We’re all on the same team.”

An England men’s game had to be stopped twice last year in Bulgaria after players were subjected to racial abuse.

The FA said it “strongly condemns discrimination of any kind and has endeavored to ensure that football in England is both diverse and inclusive in recent years.”

England winger Jadon Sancho was booked while playing for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday for removing his jersey – a yellow-card offense – only so he could reveal a T-shirt with a “Justice for George Floyd” message.

That led to FIFA telling The Associated Press on Monday that national federations should apply “common sense and have in consideration the context surrounding the events.”

English FA agrees to cancel majority of non-league season

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic the English FA have agreed to end the 2019-20 non-league season immediately with all leagues from the seventh-tier down having their results expunged with no promotion or relegation in the men’s game, while the women’s game will finish from tiers three to seven.

The fate of the fifth and sixth tiers in the men’s game remains up in the air as the board of the National Football League will meet for a second time on Thursday to try and come to a consensus decision.

Here is the the statement the FA released on Thursday confirming their decision.

“The FA and NLS steps three to six have reached a consensus that their 2019-20 season will now be brought to an end, and all results will be expunged. This will mean no promotion or relegation of clubs between NLS steps three to six, and no promotion to NLS step two. These decisions will also apply to the leagues and clubs who play at NLS step seven.

“We will continue to assist and support the National League (NLS steps one and two) to determine the outcome of its 2019-20 season as quickly as possible. The planned implementation of the restructure of the NLS will also now be deferred until the start of the 2021-22 season. Furthermore, we can now confirm that we have decided that all grassroots football is concluded for the 2019-20 season. This will allow the game to move forward and to commence planning for next season. Our County Football Associations (CFAs) will be supporting grassroots leagues over the coming days to determine how they should close out their current competitions.”

In terms of the women’s game, the FA Women’s Super League and Championship will continue but all leagues below that will now end with immediate effect.

“The FA and the leagues within tiers three to seven have reached a consensus to bring the season to an immediate end and all results will be expunged. This will mean no promotion or relegation of clubs between tiers three to seven. Agreement has also been reached to end the Regional Talent Clubs season, which was due to conclude in April 2020. We remain in consultation with the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship Board and clubs regarding the most appropriate way to complete the current season, including for the Barclays FA Women’s Super League Academy.”

In the lengthy statement the FA also announced that it plans to continue the FA Cup, FA Women’s Cup and both the FA Vase and FA Trophy competitions “whenever it is safe and appropriate to do so” as teams are “close to reaching a major final and for those clubs and supporters we will do all we can to keep the Wembley dream alive.”

Daniel Sturridge handed worldwide ban

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Daniel Sturridge has been banned from playing worldwide until June 2020 and fined $190,000 for breaching betting regulations.

The former Liverpool striker had his contract mutually terminated with Turkish side Trabzonspor on Monday and now it is clear why.

Sturridge, 30, was found guilty of breaching the FA’s gambling regulations ( he had provided his brother with “inside information” over a bet regarding a possible transfer to Sevilla) and was handed a two-week ban last July.

However, the English FA thought that punishment by an independent regulatory commission was too lenient and appealed the decision. Hence why Sturridge is now banned until Jun. 17, 2020.

In a statement posted on their website on Monday the FA revealed that FIFA have now issued a worldwide ban on Sturridge:

“Daniel Sturridge has been suspended from all football and football-related activity from today until the end of 17 June 2020. Following an appeal by the FA of the previous findings of the independent regulatory commission in this case, an independent appeal board has found that the regulatory commission misapplied the FA’s rules in relation to the use of inside information and made findings of fact which could not be sustained.

“As a result, the appeal board has found proven two further charges which were originally dismissed. Other factual findings of the regulatory commission were left undisturbed. In relation to the sanction, the appeal board agreed with the FA that the penalty originally imposed on Mr Sturridge was unduly lenient and therefore increased his effective playing ban from two weeks to four months. The appeal board also doubled the fine to £150,000. FIFA has confirmed that the suspension will be of worldwide effect.”

Kids under 12 banned from heading in UK

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LONDON — Children up to the age of 12 will be banned from heading a soccer ball in practice sessions in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland as authorities look to address the potential long-term impact on health of head injuries.

[ MORE: US Soccer bans heading ]

The governing bodies of the three regions announced the new heading guidelines on Monday, months after a Scottish study found former professional players there were less likely to die of common causes such as heart disease and cancer compared with the general population but more likely to die with dementia.

The guidelines say there will be a “graduated approach” to heading in practice for kids from 12-15, while the heading will be restricted to one practice session per week for kids 16 and 17.

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There will be no change in terms of heading in matches, taking into consideration the extremely limited number of headers which actually occur in youth matches.

The Scottish study did not state that heading a ball was the cause of the increased prevalence of neurodegenerative conditions among soccer players, but the decision to update the guidelines was taken to “mitigate against any potential risks”, the English Football Association said in a statement.

“This guidance is a responsible development to our grassroots coaching,” FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said, “without impacting the enjoyment that children of all ages take from playing the game.”

The associations said the guidance had been produced in parallel with the UEFA medical committee, which is seeking to produce Europe-wide guidance later this year.

Bury on the brink; Bolton have hope

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The future of both Bolton Wanderers and Bury remains in serious doubt ahead of a English Football League deadline set for 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Unless something drastic happens both will be liquidated, have their licenses revoked by the EFL and be expelled from the Football League.

A late bid from from C&N Sporting Risk to buy 134-year-old Bury collapsed, and that news spread around their Gigg Lane stadium as it was being cleaned by volunteers ahead of a possible weekend fixture against Doncaster Rovers.

C&N released a statement detailing how hard they had tried to save Bury, who have won the FA Cup twice in their history and had been promoted to their third-tier over the summer.

“We are grateful to the EFL for the short extension they granted to us so that we could continue with due diligence, and for their acceptance of our proof of funds capable of mounting a credible takeover… The complexities involved in each of these matters escalated and continue to do so. It is therefore with regret that we have decided not to proceed with the takeover of Bury FC. This decision has not been taken lightly. We fully understand the importance of the club to the community and it is with this in mind that we have informed the EFL of our decision at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The EFL released the following statement after hearing that C&N had pulled out of the deal to save Bury.

“The League announced at the weekend that it was working exclusively with the club and C&N in an attempt to finalise a change of control at the club. However, following a period of due diligence, C&N have opted not to progress matters. The League continues to be in discussions with Bury FC in advance of today’s 5pm deadline and will provide a further update as appropriate.”

As for Bolton, their situation remains dire as a potential takeover appeared to collapse on Monday.

However, Bolton’s administrator Paul Appleton released a more positive update on Tuesday ahead of the deadline.

“Following my statement of yesterday morning, I am glad to report there is continuing dialogue between the parties whose positions will ultimately decide the fate of the club,” Appleton said. “Myself and my team will continue to do everything possible to facilitate a deal and we will work tirelessly to get this finalised for the club, fans, staff and wider community. The future of Bolton Wanderers is still in doubt but I have to believe there can be a positive outcome before today’s 5pm deadline set by the EFL.”

The Trotters had been fielding their youth team in League One games so far this season, but their most recent matches were called off due to fears over the players’ health.

Bury have yet to play a game this season, as they sit bottom of the third tier on -12 after reaching a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) which triggered an initial 12 point penalty. Bolton are second from bottom on -11 points.