Coronavirus hits sport: Dutch Eredivisie canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic

Kiwi Ryan Thomas in action for PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie.
Kiwi Ryan Thomas in action for PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie. Photo credit: Getty

The Dutch Eredivisie football season has been abandoned for the season with no title winner and no teams relegated due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Dutch FA (KNVB) has announced. 

The move comes after the national government banned major events until September 1 due to COVID-19, which has caused more than 4,000 deaths in the Netherlands.

Ajax were top of the Eredivisie table with 56 points from 25 games, only ahead of AZ Alkmaar, on goal difference, and both teams will now fill the Netherlands' qualifying places in UEFA's 2020-21 Champions League, Europe's elite club competition.

"In these times, under these circumstances it is not appropriate to speak of a championship, therefore we only confirm the placing of the clubs as per the last standings," the KNVB said 

"Unfortunately, with the cabinet's most recent corona measures, it has become impossible to play out the rest of the 2019-20 season.

"It will be crystal clear to everyone involved, from supporters and players to directors and referees, that public health always comes first.

"Today's decisions made about the settlement of the competition were for a mere football problem in the perspective of what the coronavirus has caused to society.

"Nevertheless, the KNVB is aware that today's decisions will cause great disappointment in football for some."

Ajax will take the Netherlands' automatic place in the Champions League group phase while AZ will enter the competition at the preliminary round stage.

Third-placed Feyenoord Rotterdam will compete in Europa League group phase, while PSV Eindhoven, who are fourth, and Willem II Tilburg in fifth will be in the preliminary rounds.

All Whites midfielder Ryan Thomas plays for PSV while goalkeeper Michael Woud is at Willem II.

That crowd was insane - a packed arena at 10am. You just felt that Kiwi pride.

French football mull restart with two cup finals

French football could resume its season in June with two cup finals, French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet has proposed.

Le Graet said that the French Cup final between Paris St Germain and St Etienne could be played on either June 13 or 20, followed by the League Cup final between PSG and Olympique Lyonnais three days later.

He suggested it would be the appropriately symbolic way to restart professional soccer after its suspension last month because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It would offer a good image for both professional and amateur football," Le Graet told reporters after Friday's meeting of the French professional league.

"The restart of the championship is still to be decided but we might change the calendar a bit to play the cup finals first.

"My proposition has not been contradicted so I consider that until someone says no to me, it is a yes."

A restart for Ligue 1 had been provisionally set for June 17 but Le Graet conceded it would depend on government approval.

"The ministers hold the key to the restart but the will of the league and the clubs is to restart," he added.

"We have to get everything in order to try and resume the season, which is a priority that was emphasised by the UEFA executive committee on Thursday."


England v West Indies test series canceled 

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has extended the suspension of the professional game in the country until July 1 due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

As a result, England's three-match home test series against West Indies scheduled for June and the women's T20I and ODI matches against India in June and July will be moved.

"As much as we remain hopeful that we can deliver some cricket this summer, we are in the midst of a worldwide crisis and our priority... will be to protect the vulnerable, key workers and society," said ECB chief executive Tom Harrison.

"That's why, simply put, there will be no cricket unless it’s safe to play. Our schedule will only go ahead if government guidance permits.

"Our plan is to reschedule international matches as late as possible in the season to give the best chance of play."

Harrison added they've received "multiple offers" from other countries to help complete the domestic season, including New Zealand. 

"We've had offers as far away as Australia and New Zealand," he added. 

"Those offers are on the table.

"I haven't had anything from Abu Dhabi, but that's not to say the offer hasn't been made."