THE SOCCER REPORT

Soccer suspended worldwide by Coronavirus

The newly renamed BBVA Stadium. Photo courtesy of BBVA

In the span of a week, "the world's game" went from business as usual, while keeping a close eye on the Coronavirus situation, to most leagues stopping play altogether. The powers that be now look to solutions for some of the world's top competitions like the UEFA Champions League and the Premier League.

UPDATE: Both the UEFA EURO (European Championship) and CONMEBOL Copa America (South American Championship), the two most renowned international tournaments after the FIFA World Cup, announced the postponement of their 2020 editions on Tuesday. Both tournaments will now be played in the Summer of 2021.


Concacaf (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) also annnounced the suspension of it's international competitons, most importantly the Men's Olympic Qualifying tournament in late March. No announcement has been made yet as to what the fate will be for the Concacaf Nations League, the semifinals of which are scheduled to take place this June in Houston.

Here is the updates on the status of club football:

UEFA Champions League / Europa League

The UEFA Champions League and Europa League are suspended for the moment after due in big part to the inability of Italian teams to take part in the Round of 16 stage of either tournament. Some matches had already taken place with no spectators but the implementation of a nationwide quarantine in Italy and, subsequently, Spain have complicated the tournament to continue.

Update: UEFA hosted a videoconference with Presidents and General Secretaries of the 55 national associations, representatives of the European Club Association, European Leagues and FIFPro Europe on Tuesday to discuss the rest of the season.

The decision to postpone EURO 2020, and the colaboration for Copa America to do the same, was made to clear the schedule during the summer for club competitions. Now it's a wait and see but there is optimism to resume play as early as April and finish in late June or July.

CONMEBOL Libertadores / Copa Sudamericana

South America's club championships are on hold for the time being and will also benefit from the Copa America suspension to have a clear schedule this summer.

English Premier League

The Premier League went from expecting to play the weekend schedule to doing a 180 and announcing the suspension of the league after the news broke of Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta testing positive for Coronavirus.

Spain's La Liga

German Bundesliga

Italian Serie A

French Ligue 1

Ligue 1 has set April 15th as a target date for the best case scenario to comeback from the Coronavirus hiatus. The date takes into account two weeks of training before the league resumes.

Major League Soccer

National Women's Soccer League

Liga MX / Ascenso MX/ MX Femenil

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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