Football will be totally different when it eventually resumes after the coronavirus outbreak, the head of global body FIFA, Gianni Infantino, said on Thursday.
“Football will come back, and when it does, we’ll celebrate coming out of a nightmare together,” he told the Italian news agency ANSA in an interview.
“There is one lesson, however, that both you and me must have understood: the football that will come after the virus will be totally different, inclusive, more social and more supportive, connected to the individual countries and at the same time more global, less arrogant and more welcoming.”
He added: “We will be better, more human and more attentive to true values.”
Last week, Infantino told Italian sports media outfit Gazzetta dello Sport that it was the right time to take a step back.
He added that it was time to reform a sport where fixture lists have become overloaded and financial resources increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few elite clubs.
Infantino suggested there could be “fewer, but more interesting tournaments. Maybe fewer squads, but more balance. Fewer, but more competitive, matches to safeguard the health of the players.”
Later on Thursday, Infantino told the annual congress of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) that “it is our responsibility as football administrators, first of all, to ensure football can survive and secondly move forward once again.”
“On the international match calendar we have to look for global solutions to tackle these global problems in a spirit of cooperation and solidarity,” Infantino said in a video link from Zurich.
“Everyone has different interests, but we must talk and put on the table topics that we perhaps didn’t discuss in the past.’’
In the United Kingdom (UK), London’s Heathrow Airport will close one of its two runways on Monday after flight numbers dropped due to the coronavirus crisis.
“It is about increasing resilience and security for employees, passengers, and cargo during the Covid-19 outbreak,” a spokesman for Europe’s largest airport said late Thursday evening, the Britain’s news agency PA reported.
The spokesman said that the airport would remain open even if there were significantly fewer flights worldwide, PA news reported.
The airport forecasted a 53 per cent surge in weekly cargo movements as it has started to prioritise flights with medical supplies, a letter from Heathrow officials said on March 27.
“Whilst passenger travel remains restricted for many, we’ll continue to play a key role in safely keeping the UK’s supply chain alive,” Heathrow airport said on Twitter Thursday.
Heathrow, a major international hub, says it is the busiest airport in the world, handling more than 80 million passengers last year.
In total, more than 475,600 planes took off from the airport in 2019.
A total of 90 airlines operate out of Heathrow, servicing more than 180 destinations.
More than 33,000 people in Britain have been infected with Covid-19 as of Thursday, local sources said.
The number of deaths rose by 569 in one day to bring the total count to 2921.
In the United States (U.S.), President Donald Trump said on Thursday that his second test for the novel coronavirus came back negative.
Trump said he took the test “really out of curiosity to see how quickly it worked,” adding that the test took around 15 minutes.
Trump was previously tested in mid-March for the virus.
Also on Thursday, Trump said he invoked the Defence Production Act to speed up the production of ventilators “to save American lives” and to force 3M to make face masks.
The act gives the president wartime powers to force the private sector to produce supplies for national defence.
The president previously ordered car maker GM to produce ventilators, using the Defence Production Act, the first utilization of the measure during the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Enugu State Fire Service, on Thursday, commenced the fumigation of major markets and some public spaces in the state in view of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The State Chief Fire Officer, Mr Okwudiri Ohaa, said this in Enugu while fielding questions from journalists on efforts to decontaminate major markets and malls in the state.
Ohaa said that the Ogbete Main Market, Old Artisan Market, Polo Shopping Mall, GRA and adjoining streets were some of the major public places that had been fumigated.
He said that markets in the state would remain closed until they were fumigated in line with the state government’s directive.
The state fire chief said that the State Government was committed to ensuring that the COVID-19 pandemic did not pose a threat to residents of the state.
He said that they were deploying substances such as chlorine disinfectant mixed with calcium hypochlorite in the fumigation, adding that such substances were not dangerous to people’s health.
Ohaa said that the exercise also offered the service the opportunity to sensitise residents of the state on the deadly COVID-19 as well as various preventive measures.
He said the fumigation would continue in other parts of the state to ensure full coverage of the state.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi inspected the exercise alongside heads of security agencies in the state.
In Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has confirmed the discharge of 11 patients who previously tested positive to COVID-19 from the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), Yaba.
Sanwo-Olu, in a statement on Thursday, said that the patients included two females and nine males, making 18 patients that had been discharged in Lagos since the index case was reported.
He said that the patients were discharged after testing negative two times consecutively to COVID-19.
“Even, as this battle continues, amid so much anxiety all over the world, I am happy to break to you, my good people of Lagos, the news of the release today of 11 more patients from our facility in Yaba.
“They have fully recovered and tested negative to COVID-19 and have been allowed to return home to their families,” he said.
The governor noted that the test results of the patients coming out negative twice was a big assurance that they pose no threat to the community.
“We are, therefore, releasing them in furtherance of our commitment for a disease free state,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu commended the health workers who took care of the patients, as well as the Emergency Operation Centre, for their resilience and diligence in the face of the daunting challenges confronting the state in curtailing the spread of the pandemic.
“It is a thing of joy that we have not recorded any mortality and we hope – and pray – that it remains so.
“We will not rest on our oars, but continue to work assiduously for the full recovery of the other patients, so that they can return home to their families and the community.
“I am happy to note the excitement of the patients.
“They are full of gratitude to our dear state that has stood by them all the way, the health workers and all those who contributed one way or the other in the fight against this unseen but vicious enemy of mankind.
“The Health Commissioner and all members of the medical team got kudos,” the governor said.
He, however, warned that this was not the time to relax, but to maintain vigilance against Coronavirus because of the community infection that the state was experiencing.
“I, therefore, advise Lagosians to remain steadfast as they stick to the rules of hygiene we have been told to practise.
“Let us continue to observe Social Distancing.
“Let us remain indoors, shunning the temptation to breach the presidential restriction that has been placed on our state so that the gains made so far in the fight against COVID-19 is not eroded.
“We should shun any gathering for whatever reason at this delicate period,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu added that reports of youths gathering for social and sporting activities, as well as those massing for religious purposes were unfortunate.
“This kind of insensitivity could be a weak link in our collective efforts to break the chain of transmission of the infection.
“The order for law enforcement agents to ensure that residents comply with the directive to stay indoors remains,” the governor added.
He enjoined members of the Organised Private Sector to read the Federal Government’s guidelines on the restriction of movement, so that the directive was not breached in any way.
Sanwo-Olu reassured the citizens that with their cooperation and grace of God, the state would be victorious in its quest to end the pandemic soon.
In Oyo State, efforts of the state government to contain the COVID-19 pandemic from spreading has received a major boost with the donation of N10 million by Chief Lateef Fagbemi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
A statement in Ibadan on Thursday by Mr Taiwo Adisa, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Governor Seyi Makinde, also indicated that chairman, Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resort, Chief Dotun Sanusi, donated N5 million to the endowment fund.
Adisa said that the state government believes that the setting up of the endowment fund would allow members of the public interested in supporting its efforts to make donations through the three designated bank accounts.
According to him, the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinola Ojo, gave approval for the operation of the accounts, which will remain the only avenue by which financial contributions can be made to the state.
Adisa disclosed that a number of well-meaning individuals have already started making contributions through the accounts,
Fagbemi and Sanusi, in seperate letters addressed to Makinde, commended the works being done in curbing the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Fagbemi commended some of the measures already put in place by the government and advised that all hands must be on deck to improve on the interventions.
Similarly, Sanusi commended the proactive measures put in place by Makinde to fight the virus in the state,” the statement read.