Football clubs step up help for communities as virus bites

Prevented from plying their usual trade by
the coronavirus pandemic, English football clubs are turning to their
attentions to helping local communities cope with huge disruption to
daily life.

Liverpool’s cruise towards a first league title in 30 years has been put on hold, with the Premier League suspended for the foreseeable future.

But the loss of four home games for the Reds and five for neighbours Everton could have had much more severe consequences for those dependent on the North Liverpool Foodbank.

Around a quarter of food donations are
collected at Liverpool and Everton home games by an organisation called
Fans Supporting Foodbanks.

Liverpool’s players and the club’s
foundation have contributed £40 000 ($46 000) towards ensuring the
foodbank does not run dry at a time of crisis.

“If people are
having to use a foodbank week in, week out anyway, the most
disadvantaged in our community will be the hardest-hit during this
period of time,” LFC Foundation director Matt Parish told AFP.

“They can’t stockpile, they can’t build up reserves of food in the house. They will need that ongoing support during this time.”

Liverpool
staff will take an active role in the collection and distribution of
food due to the added complication that many of the foodbank’s
volunteers are older people, who are more at risk from the virus.

The
foundation’s range of programmes in the community, including football
coaching, sessions for disabled children and activities for the elderly
have been cancelled.

However, provisions are being made by
providing fitness videos available at home and keeping in touch with
people who are isolated.

“We are very conscious that physical
activity is important, but also that people don’t feel like they are
just stuck at home,” said Parish.

“We have the ability to call
people to maintain that contact. It’s going to be challenging for all of
us to isolate, but if you are older or living alone that is probably
even more stark.”

Italy Serie A >> Ribery’s Fiorentina suffer ten coronavirus cases

Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso revealed on Wednesday ten members of the Italian outfit have tested positive for coronavirus, with three in hospital.

“The situation is worsening,
in the club we have about ten people affected by this unfortunate
disease, three members of staff are in hospital,” Commisso told Sky
Sport Italia from the United States.

Players infected include Italian forward Patrick Cutrone, Argentine German Pezzella and Serbia forward Dusan Vlahovic.

As a result the Tuscany side have launched a
fundraiser to help city hospitals with former France midfielder Franck
Ribery donating 50 000 euros ($54 000).

“I want to thank Ribery for his donation,” said Commisso.

“We’ve started well, we’ve already raised 420 000 euros with a target of 500 000.”

Serie A rivals Brescia also confirmed two employees had tested positive for COVID-19 which has killed nearly 3 000 people in Italy.