Coronavirus hits sport: NFL boss Roger Goodell defers personal salary during pandemic

NFL boss Roger Goodell
NFL boss Roger Goodell Photo credit: Getty

Commissioner Roger Goodell will not be paid during the coronavirus pandemic as part of a leadership-initiated reduction in pay by the NFL.

Multiple US outlets reported the terms of the widespread pay reduction confirmed by a memo sent to teams on Wednesday. The NFL reductions include furloughs for employees who will still receive full medical benefits.

"We hope that business conditions will improve and permit salaries to be returned to their current levels, although we do not know when that will be possible," Goodell wrote in the memo.

Goodell's salary is no longer public record due to a change in tax status for the NFL. His last confirmed salary, plus incentives, was more than $US40million.

Salary reductions take effect in May and include manager-level staffers accepting a reduction of five per cent, director pay trimmed by seven per cent and 10 per cent for vice presidents. Five senior vice presidents are taking a 12 per cent reduction and executive vice presidents lose 15 per cent.

Any employee with a base salary of less than $US100,000 is not impacted by the reduction and the NFL determined it would not lower any salary below $US100,000 as a result of these reductions, the memo said.

Furloughed employees are primarily based in the NFL's New York offices. Goodell wrote in the memo the league is not certain when those employees might return.


Spanish football clubs to test ahead of training

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi Photo credit: Reuters

La Liga clubs will begin testing players for coronavirus next week as the first step towards restarting the season in June, a source familiar with the league's plans said on Wednesday.

Athletes in Spain have been forced to train at home since early March due to one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, but Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has announced they are free to begin individual training at facilities from next Monday.

Players and staff must undergo a RT-PCR test for the virus and a serology test before returning to training as part of phase one of La Liga's protocol for a return to activity.

Phase two is individual training and could begin as soon as May 6, while phase three is training in small groups of up to eight players. Phase four refers to full group training which needs to last at least two weeks before action returns.

The source said the four phases can be completed within a month, meaning top-flightt matches in Spain could resume by the middle of June.

There are 11 weeks remaining of the campaign in La Liga and Spain's second division. The Copa del Rey final and second division play-off matches would also need to be scheduled.

Although the top divisions in France and the Netherlands have been declared finished due to the pandemic, all major sports institutions in Spain including the government's department for sport have committed to completing the season.

"Sport is going to return," the sports minister Irene Lozano said on Twitter on Wednesday.

"It will return in phases and will be determined by the evolution of the pandemic and with measures on distance and hygiene, but it will return. Thanks to all the athletes for your commitment, strength and resistance during the hiatus. You are an example."


Football season restart still possible, claim UEFA

Coronavirus hits sport: NFL boss Roger Goodell defers personal salary during pandemic
Photo credit: Reuters

UEFA's chief medical officer says it is "definitely possible" to plan a restart of European soccer leagues despite the Dutch and French ending their seasons and Italy's sports minister raising the prospect of a similar fate for Serie A.

The comments from UEFA's Tim Meyer contrast with FIFA's medical committee chairman Michel D'Hooghe who on Tuesday said football should not be played until at least September to limit the spread of the new coronavirus.

Meyer, who is chairman of the Medical Committee at European soccer's governing body, said on Wednesday that provided the right steps were taken, the game could plan a resumption of the current season.

"In discussing any return to playing competitive, elite-level football, the health of the players, all those involved in potential games and the public at large is of paramount importance," said the German.

"All football organisations which are planning the restart of their competitions will produce comprehensive protocols dictating sanitary and operational conditions ensuring that the health of those involved in the games is protected and the integrity of public policy is preserved.

"Under these conditions and in full respect of local legislation, it is definitely possible to plan the restart of competitions suspended during the 2019/20 season," added Meyer, who also chairs the newly-established UEFA medical sub-group which is examining health issues surrounding a return to football.

The Dutch league has cancelled the season and on Tuesday French Prime Minister 

Edouard Philippe said professional soccer and other league sports will not be allowed to return before September.

Italy's Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said on Wednesday the country's top-flightt Serie A championship looks unlikely to resume this season, adding that a majority of Serie A presidents may soon ask to suspend the league and prepare for the next championship.

The world soccer governing body's medical chief D'Hooghe said it was not realistic to play before September - which is scheduled to be the start of next season for most countries.

The comments of the veteran Belgian football administrator come as the Bundesliga moves towards a possible re-start next month, while the English Premier League is hoping games could be played behind closed doors in June.

FIFA's D'Hooghe said it was too early for players to be coming into contact with one another, at least while social distancing regulations are in place.