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Part of “Barca Studios” sold for $100M

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Barcelona attempt to establish themselves once again as a force in La Liga and the Champions League while facing an economic crisis caused by loss of revenue due to Covid and mismanagement.

Cash-strapped Spanish football club Barcelona have sold part of their media production unit “Barca Studios” for $102.5 million , the club has announced.

Barcelona described their new partner on Friday as someone with “a long history of producing content”. The deal complemented one signed with Socios.com to expand their NFT operation, the club said.

Barcelona had to cut player wages and off-load their star Lionel Messi last year as the club face up to an economic crisis caused by loss of revenue due to Covid and mismanagement.

Barcelona’s attempts to establish themselves once again as a force in La Liga and the Champions League have seen the heavily indebted Catalans sell off various shares in potential future earnings.

READ MORE: FIFA increases squad limit to 26 players for 2022 Qatar World Cup

The club’s key asset is its massive fan base and this latest deal for the sale of NFTs and derivatives makes for a quick fix.

Barcelona have spent around $157 million on transfer fees alone to strengthen their squad, with Robert Lewandowski the most notable new arrival.

Faced with severe limits on spending in order to comply with La Liga’s financial controls, Barcelona knew they needed to raise money quickly to be able to invest in any signings and, crucially, to register any new players.

READ MORE: African football body launches new Super League to boost local clubs

Source: TRT

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FIFA World Cup: Fans won’t need Covid jabs but negative tests required

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Qatari organisers issue World Cup guidelines to deal with Covid-19 as football’s governing body FIFA says they want the event to be a sign the world is getting over the devastating pandemic.

Coronavirus vaccinations will not be mandatory for the million-plus fans going to the World Cup in Qatar this year, the Gulf state has said.

But players and match officials may be forced into a secure “bio-bubble” if Covid-19 cases take off again, with the threat of expulsion from the tournament for those who breach the secure environment, the health ministry said on Thursday.

The 29-day tournament will be the first major global sporting event with fans since the eruption in December 2019 of the Covid pandemic, which has since killed more than six million people.

Qatar’s health ministry warned in its World Cup guidelines that special measures would be ordered “in the event of a worsening pandemic situation in the country”, such as the emergence of a threatening new variant.

With Covid-19 currently considered under control, “there will be no vaccination requirement for participants and visiting spectators,” the ministry said.

All visitors aged over six will have to produce negative Covid-19 tests before taking flights to Qatar for the tournament that starts on November 20.

Fans will have to wear masks in public transport but authorities are only recommending the use of masks at the eight stadiums in the Doha region where matches will be played.

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 in Qatar will have to isolate for five days, the guidelines added.

READ MORE: Qatar World Cup final stadium tested with first sellout crowd

READ MORE: FIFA increases squad limit to 26 players for 2022 Qatar World Cup

Bio-bubble ready

Organisers and FIFA are most worried about the first two weeks of the tournament when four matches a day are planned and the peak number of supporters from the 32 competing nations will be packing stadiums, fan zones and tourist spots.

Some estimates say there could be up to 350,000 visiting fans in Doha at the same time during the weekend of November 26-27.

Officials say Doha airport and the city’s roads will be facing peak pressure that weekend.

Because of the pressure on accommodation, only fans with tickets can enter Qatar from November 1, though each person with a ticket is allowed to invite three guests.

Each person entering the country must download a special fan pass, a Hayya card, and Qatar’s anti-Covid health application, Ehteraz.

The app has to be shown at the entrance to metro stations and most shopping malls.

“If metro stations and malls want to check the app, then people need to be ready for some queues,” said one tourism consultant who is advising a major chain of hotels in Qatar.

Other measures may also be difficult to enforce because of the sheer numbers, experts said.

The ministry is recommending one metre (three feet) space between diners in cafes and restaurants.

Virtually every team at the World Cup will have players who have refused to have vaccines, officials acknowledged.

England’s Premier League said this year that 15 percent of players had refused vaccines.

Qatar’s health ministry said it would force players, referees and officials to stay in a secure “bio-bubble” if coronavirus cases take off “to allow for the safe operation and continuation of the event.”

Hotel rooms, training facilities and transport to and from stadiums would all be sealed off.

“Breaching the bubble arrangement may result in an immediate dismissal of the violator from the event and removal from event hotel and accommodation,” the ministry said.

READ MORE: Qatar sends 1,300 buses onto streets in World Cup transport test

Source: TRTWorld

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Roger Federer hails ‘amazing journey’ as he bows out of tennis with defeat

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Tearful tennis star ends his remarkable career with an agonising doubles defeat alongside long-time rival Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup in London.

A tearful Roger Federer has said he had been on an “amazing journey” after the final match of his outstanding tennis career ended in a defeat partnering long-time rival Rafael Nadal in doubles at the Laver Cup.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion, 41, and Nadal, playing for Team Europe, went down 6-4, 6-7 (2/7), 9-11 against Team World’s Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock on Friday and into Saturday.

“We’ll get through this somehow,” said Federer while being interviewed on the court at London’s O2 Arena by fellow Grand Slam winner Jim Courier.

“It’s been a wonderful day,” added the Swiss star, playing for the first time since Wimbledon 2021 because of a knee injury.

“I told the guys I’m happy, not sad. It feels great to be here. I enjoyed tying my shoelaces one more, everything was the last time.

“I didn’t feel the stress so much even though I thought maybe something was going to go, like a calf, but the match was great.

“Playing with Rafa and having all the greats here, all the legends, thank you.”

Having paid tribute to his wife and parents for their support, Federer added: “It does feel like a celebration…It’s been an amazing journey.”

Source: TRT World 

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Djokovic has no ‘regrets’ about missing Slams due to unvaccinated status

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Novak Djokovic has missed two of this year’s four Grand Slams due to not being vaccinated against the novel coronavirus but the Serbian said he has no regrets about his decision.

“No, I don’t have any regrets,” Djokovic told reporters on Thursday on the eve of the Laver Cup in London. “I mean, I do feel sad that I wasn’t able to play, but, you know, that was decision that I made.”

“I knew what the consequences will be, so I accepted them. That’s it.”

“I’m waiting for the news,” the former world number one added. “It’s really not in my hands right now. I’m hoping I can get some positive news soon.”

Unable to compete

Djokovic won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles in 2021 but was unable to defend his Melbourne Park crown this year after being deported on the eve of the hardcourt major due to his unvaccinated status.

The 35-year-old Serb, who has won 21 Grand Slam titles, was also unable to travel to New York for the US Open.

Djokovic has not played since winning Wimbledon in July after he was forced to sit out the ATP Tour’s North American hardcourt swing due to his unvaccinated status.

Djokovic received a three-year travel ban for Australia when he was deported, but then Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it could be waived to allow him to participate in later editions of the major.

READ MORE: Unvaccinated Djokovic out of Montreal ATP event

Source: TRT

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