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English Premier League Can Show More Matches On Free -To-Air TV – Minister

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The English Premier League (EPL) can show more matches on free-to-air television (TV) platforms once it resumes, a UK minister, Oliver Dowden, said on Monday.

Dowden, head of the department for digital, culture, media and sport, said this should include during the normally protected 1500 BST slot on a Saturday.

He said making the games available on free platforms could help to prevent fans from turning up outside the stadium for games which are being shown behind closed doors.

“It is likely to (resume) mid-June at the earliest,” he said.

“It will be a good thing to do if we can and I’m also looking as we do it at increasing the number of matches that can be free to air so people won’t be tempted to leave their homes to watch it.

“There is a rule at the moment that at 3 p.m. you can’t show matches on TV because people were watching it in the football stadiums.

“Clearly that is not going to be the case anymore, so some of those slots may be available for free-to-air.”

(Reuters/NAN)

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Ibrahimovic Scores, Limps Off As AC Milan Stay Top In Serie A

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice to bring his tally to 10 league goals this season before limping off with a muscle strain as AC Milan stayed top in Serie A on Sunday with a 3 -1 win at 10 -man Napoli.
Milan move back two points ahead of Sassuolo — 2- 0 winners earlier at Hellas Verona — with Roma third after Henrikh Mkhitaryan netted a brace in a dominant 3 – 0 win over Parma.
“ For me Zlatan is stronger now than 10 -12 years ago ,” said Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso of his former Milan teammate .
“ Milan strongly believes in Ibra, his teammates trust him 100 percent .
“ In my opinion, their team is not the strongest but they have the mentality.
“ We play well but lose as soon as it gets difficult. ”
Ibrahimovic continued his fine form , heading in a Theo Hernandez cross after 20 minutes , sending in the second with his knee nine minutes after the break .
But the 39 -year – old pulled up clutching his left hamstring and was substituted after 79 minutes.
The Swede has scored in all six games he has played this season, having missed two after contracting coronavirus.
Coach Stefano Pioli missed the trip south with Covid- 19 , but his side got their first league win in Naples since October 2010 , the season they last won the Scudetto , with Ibrahimovic also on the scoresheet that time .
Napoli played the final half an hour a man down after Tiemoue Bakayoko was sent off for two yellow cards , just after Dries Mertens had pulled a goal back for the hosts .
Norwegian Jens Petter Hauge completed the scoring five minutes into injury time , the 21 – year -old getting his first Serie A goal .
Champions Juventus are fourth — four points off top spot — after winning 2 -0 at Cagliari on Saturday .
Last season’ s runners -up Inter Milan are just behind in fifth , after a Romelu Lukaku double inspired a 4 -2 comeback win over Torino , with Napoli dropping from third to sixth — six points off top spot .
– Inter ‘lack ferocity ’ –
In Milan , Torino got off to a strong start despite playing without top striker Andrea Belotti who pulled up during the warm – up .
Simone Zaza took the skipper ’ s place and scored the opener just before the break with Cristian Ansaldi adding a second from the penalty spot after an hour .
Inter reacted in the 64 th minute , with Alexis Sanchez bundling the ball in after Lukaku ’ s initial effort was tipped onto the crossbar , before the Chilean set up his fellow former Manchester United forward for the equaliser three minutes later .
Lukaku pulled Inter ahead from the penalty spot six minutes from time and then provided the cross for substitute Lautaro Martinez to score the fourth on 90 minutes.
“ I didn’t like what I saw ,” said Inter coach Antonio Conte three days before his side host Real Madrid in the Champions League.
“ We lack the ferocity of last season.
“ But we showed character as being 2 -0 down could have destroyed us. ”
Torino drop into the relegation zone after their fifth defeat .
In Verona , Sassuolo continued their impressive run thanks to goals in either half from Jeremie Boga and Domenico Berardi .
The side from Emilia Romagna are unbeaten this season and are the joint top scorers with 20 goals .
Roma meanwhile stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 10 matches , cementing victory with three first- half goals .
Borja Mayoral got his first Serie A goal just before the half -hour mark, with Mkhitaryan adding two more before the break to bring his tally to five in two games after scoring a hat -trick last time out against Genoa .
In Tuscany , Cesare Prandelli had a nightmare start as coach of struggling Fiorentina with a 1 -0 home defeat by Benevento .
Former Italy coach Prandelli returned to the ‘ Viola ’ a decade after leaving for the Azzurri job in 2010 , but the team fell to their fourth defeat.
To add to Prandelli ’s woes, French midfielder Franck Ribery went off injured .
“ The fragility worries me most , ” said Prandelli .
“ Perhaps the team succumbed to their fears and negative thoughts when Franck came off .”
Riccardo Improta scored his first Serie A goal for Benevento on 52 minutes , slotting in a Gabriele Moncini cross after a Cristiano Biraghi defensive error.
Fiorentina slip to 15 th in the Serie A table , just behind Benevento.
(AFP)

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AFCON Qualifiers: CAF Opens Door For Fans 

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Confederation of African Football has opened the door to fans’ participation in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
This was one of the changes made in face of the COVID-19 restrictions. Although CAF had ruled that no fans will be allowed into stadia for November games, nevertheless, there is a tweak should any host association’s government insists on having fans around.
“All the matches must be played without spectators, however, should a host association’s government approve that matches can be played with spectators, the host federation must obtain prior approval from CAF,” it noted.
“The number of spectators shall not exceed 50% of the stadium capacity. These measures are effective and are valid only during the current context of global health crisis due to the COVID-19.”
Other changes include the Afcon 2022 qualification games, CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup will have the number of players increased by 10 players as that will allow participating teams to replace any player who contracts the virus.
“For the competitions where the regulations impose a list with a limited number of players (Example: Interclubs, Competitions with final tournament system…): increase the number of players with 10 players; (if for example, the regulations impose a list of 30 players, the number will be increased to 40),” a statement from CAF read.
“The number of substitutes allowed on the start list remains unchanged in conformity with each competition’s regulations. Five substitutions will be allowed for matchday 3 and 4 of the Afcon 2021 qualifiers,” it added.

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AFCON: Abdullahi Replaces Injured Onyeka As Iheanacho, Etebo Arrive Camp 

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Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has handed a late invitation to Omonia Nicosia defender Shehu Abdullahi ahead of the team’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Sierra Leone.
Abdullahi who is one of the seven players on standby for the games replaces Midtjylland midfielder Frank Onyeka, who sustained a shoulder injury in his club’s 4 -0 thrashing of FC Copenhagen on Sunday.
The news of the replacement was confirmed by the Nigeria Football Federation on their Twitter handle on Monday with Abdullahi handed a late call -up.
“ Super Eagles camp update: @OfficialShehu replaces injured Frank Onyeka for the AFCON 2022 qualifier against Sierra Leone # SoarSuperEagles# Team9 jaStrong,” NFF tweeted.

The 27 -year -old last featured for the Eagles in their international friendly against Brazil in October 2019 . He was not invited for the country ’s friendlies against Algeria and Tunisia last month.

Meanwhile, Oghenekaro Etebo , Paul Onuachu and Leicester City forward , Kelechi iheanacho will arrive the team ’s camp today ahead of the games .
Rohr may also be without Kenneth Omeruo who limped off in the 49 th minute of Leganes ’ 1 -0 win over Mirandes on November 1.

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