The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations has been delayed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced.

Following a meeting of the CAF executive committee on Tuesday, it was confirmed that the tournament in Cameroon will now be held in January 2022.

Dates for the rescheduled event and the remaining qualifying fixtures will be decided at a later point.

However, the 2020 Women's AFCON, which was slated to take place from November 23 until December 20, has been cancelled.

With the men's AFCON pushed back, the African Nations Championship will now be held in January 2021 after conditions were deemed unsuitable due to the COVID-19 outbreak in April.

"The CAF executive committee is satisfied with the Cameroonian authorities for their commitment towards the hosting of the two competitions," said CAF president Ahmad Ahmad.

"Cameroon is ready to host either competition and are within schedule."

The CAF Champions League, which was paused at the semi-final stage, will resume in September with single-legged fixtures at a yet-to-be-determined venue. The women's version of the competition will be launched in 2021.

It was also announced the CAF Awards will not be held this year.

Barcelona's huge LaLiga clash with Atletico Madrid will take place behind closed doors on Tuesday, but the champions have come up with a way for some fans to have a presence in the stands.

The Catalan giants have placed 3,000 personalised shirts on seats behind both goals and in the Lateral stand at Camp Nou as part of its 'We All Play' campaign.

Supporters were able to buy a special edition home jersey with their chosen name and number on to occupy a place in the stadium.

Barca confirmed part of the proceeds will be donated to charitable projects aimed at fighting the spread of coronavirus through its foundation.

A club statement read: "This is unquestionably one of the biggest games left for this final stretch of the season, and the players aren't going to be alone.

"Thanks to the 'We All Play' campaign, 3,000 fans will be able to symbolically 'enter' the stadium in the form of personalised shirts laid out in the terraces.

"Once the game is over, the shirts will be cleaned and disinfected and sent over the course of the following days to the fans' home addresses.

"They will also be emailed a link to a gygaphoto in which they will be able to locate their shirt in the ground as a souvenir of their testimonial 'attendance' of the match."

Barca fell two points adrift of LaLiga leaders Real Madrid at the weekend but have an opportunity to reclaim top spot by beating third-placed Atletico.

Club captain Lionel Messi will reach 700 goals in professional football if he hits the target at Camp Nou.

 The former president of soccer’s governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean was sentenced to time served for his role in accepting $1.66 million in bribes in the FIFA scandals and will return to Honduras after 4 1/2 years in the U.S.

Alfredo Hawit of Honduras, CONCACAF’s president from May 27, 2015, until Dec. 4, 2015, was given the sentence Monday by U.S. District Judge Pamela K. Chen in Brooklyn during a video hearing.

The 68-year-old Hawit also was sentenced to two years of supervised release and barred during that time from holding a title in FIFA, CONCACAF or any professional soccer organization. Chen deferred a ruling on restitution for 90 days, said forfeiture will be $950,000 and said he must pay $400 in special assessments.

“I do take responsibility and I have changed considerably. I want to ask forgiveness for all those things I did back then,” Hawit said through a translator.

“There are no words to express how sorry I am,” he said in a written statement read by the translator to the court. “I also regret all the harm I did to soccer, which is the sport that I love. ... From the day of my arrest in Zurich and the time that I spent in jail and 4 1/2 years so far, I’ve suffered. I’ve felt humiliated and shamed by my behavior, and I’m paying the price.”

Hawit, a lawyer, teacher and former professional soccer player, will be deported when the coronavirus pandemic eases and Honduras reopens its border. Prosecutors said his family is working with the Honduran consulate to arrange transport, and Chen recommended that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement allow him to self-deport.

Hawit pleaded guilty on April 11, 2016, to two counts of wire fraud conspiracy and one count each of racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Each count carried a possible sentence of up to 20 years.

His sentence showed the impact of a guilty plea early in the case rather than risk a guilty verdict at trial. Former South American governing body president Juan Ángel Napout is serving a nine-year sentence following his conviction and former Brazil federation president José Maria Marin was sentenced to four years after his conviction. Marin was given compassionate release about eight months early in April, shortly before his 88th birthday.

Chen said Hawit tried to conceal bribes and even used the name of his wife, a superior court judge in Honduras. He also tried to cover up the payments by directing co-conspirators to create a sham contract.

“The government’s investigation and prosecution in this case has rightfully served as a wake-up call to the entire professional soccer world and to all of its associations that business cannot be conducted in this manner,” Chen said.

She said Hawit did not warrant additional jail time, given that he voluntarily accepted extradition, spent two months incarcerated and about four years under house arrest, and he expressed remorse.

“While it is clear that Mr. Hawit faltered badly by agreeing for a number of years to take bribes of a significant amount on multiple occasions and covering that up through elaborate schemes," Chen said, "he did recover after being caught and has since tried to make amends.”

Hawit became CONCACAF’s president after Jeffrey Webb was arrested while attending a FIFA meeting in Zurich, but Hawit was arrested in Switzerland on Dec. 3, 2015. He was extradited to the U.S. the following Jan. 13 and released on bond that Feb. 2.

He was banned for life by FIFA on Dec. 19, 2016, after the adjudicatory chamber of its independent ethics committee found him guilty of violating FIFA's code of ethics provisions on general rules of conduct; loyalty; duty of disclosure, cooperation and reporting; conflicts of interest; and bribery and corruption.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a natural-born winner who has proven he does not like to be in the comfort zone throughout his glittering career, says former Portugal international Abel Xavier.

Since joining Manchester United as a prodigious teenager, Ronaldo has racked up the biggest collective and individual prizes in world football.

In six years with the Red Devils, Ronaldo won three Premier League trophies, two EFL Cups, an FA Cup and the Champions League in 2008.

That tradition of winning continued during nine prolific seasons with Real Madrid, during which time he became Los Blancos' all-time record goalscorer, won two LaLiga titles, two Copas del Rey and the Champions League on four occasions.

Ronaldo opted to depart Madrid for Juventus ahead of the 2018-19 campaign and lifted the Serie A trophy and Supercoppa Italiana during that debut term.

Another league title with Juve appears on the horizon, with the Bianconeri four points clear of Lazio with 10 games remaining.

Former Liverpool and Roma full-back Xavier says Ronaldo is fuelled by undertaking different challenges and would be successful wherever he plays.

"He's a winner and his mental focus is great," Xavier told Stats Perform News of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"You realise he does not like the comfort zone. He was in Madrid, he won; he was at Man United, he won; he's at Juventus and has also won things.

"Wherever he goes, he is going to win – individually and collectively.

"Of course, there is going to arrive a moment when he is not going to be able to produce the same style of football, but when you're looking to win – concerning the goalscoring positions – he is one of the best.

"Nowadays, the effort [for the team] is to try and put him in the right place to score. His qualities now are more a finisher, being in the right place to finish.

"For me, as a Portuguese, and for all people who love football, we admire him. He's a great player, a great athlete and a great team-mate in football."

Ronaldo is now 35 but Xavier sees no let-up in the hunger for glory and says helping Juve defend their title will be at the forefront of his season aims.

"I think that is his main goal. That is his main objective because he's a winner," Xavier added.

"I know him from my time as a player when he was a young player who started to be integrated into the national team environment.

"I believe he is still intact, he is still a very strong-minded, focused person. And he wants to win titles. He wants to win titles individually, he wants to win them collectively."

Earlier this season, which was disrupted for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ronaldo was reported to have fallen out with Juve boss Maurizio Sarri, rumours exacerbated by the head coach substituting his superstar in two straight games when Juve were not in front.

Xavier believes regardless of the personal relationship between the two they will always be brought together by the desire for success.

"They've been having a few problems recently. A moment arrives for a coach when it becomes hard because you need to manage egos, you need to be able to keep forming the players and putting in the correct identity for your style of play," Xavier said.

"The players need to accept that to be together.

"But, I don't know if the administration will make a decision on that, concerning the coach. But the leadership of the players is very important and they still have the chances and opportunities to win two important titles – Serie A and the Champions League.

"Whatever is happening with the coaching position, they have these two main objectives to be focused on."

Achraf Hakimi has said his goodbyes to Borussia Dortmund as the Real Madrid full-back moves ever closer to joining Inter.

Nerazzurri chief executive Beppe Marotta confirmed over the weekend that a deal was on the verge of being struck for the 21-year-old, who reportedly arrived in Milan for a medical on Tuesday.

Hakimi has been a star for Dortmund this season, having joined on a two-year loan from LaLiga giants Madrid in 2018.

And he said a fond farewell to the Bundesliga club ahead of his proposed switch to Serie A.

"The time has come to close a very beautiful stage in my life. After two wonderful years, I'm ready to leave this club that has given me so much joy," Hakimi wrote on Twitter and Instagram.

"From the first moment, the care and attention by the club and the city has been amazing. Now I know that I was right to choose Dortmund as my home two years ago.

"I want to thank all my teammates, the coaching staff, and all the club's staff for the love and trust they have shown me at all times.

"I also want to thank the wonderful fans who have supported us unconditionally in every game.

"I'll never forget the yellow wall (Glebe Wand) which is simply wonderful.

"Finally, I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me at all times.

"I hope that one day our paths will cross again. See you soon Borussia Dortmund!"

Miralem Pjanic has been included in Juventus' squad to face Genoa on Tuesday, a day after his impending move to Barcelona was confirmed.

It was announced Barca had agreed an initial fee of €60million to take Pjanic to Camp Nou at the end of the season, with Arthur heading in the opposite direction in a deal that could eventually cost Juve €82m.

Pjanic is among the party named by Juve for the clash at the Luigi Ferraris, where the Bianconeri will continue their bid for a ninth Serie A title.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, prior to the confirmation of the deal, Juve coach Maurizio Sarri said he had no doubts Pjanic would give his all to the cause before heading to Barca.

"If the transfer becomes official, [Pjanic] will be happy because he will end his career in a great team," Sarri said.

"The boy can be happy with this solution, I am peaceful because he is serious and intelligent. The possibility that he doesn't give us 101 per cent, I don't see it."

Juve are four points clear of second-place Lazio at the top of Serie A with 10 games remaining.

Manchester City could be ready to challenge rivals Manchester United for Aston Villa star Jack Grealish.

Grealish, 24, has been linked with a move away from Villa, with Old Trafford seemingly his most likely destination.

But City may be primed to join the race for the attacker.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDER MOVE FOR MAN UTD TARGET GREALISH

Manchester City will consider a move for Grealish if they receive their asking price for Leroy Sane from Bayern Munich, according to The Telegraph.

Sane is set to leave the Premier League giants this close season amid continued links to Bayern.

And City could challenge Manchester United for Grealish – who has scored nine goals and provided eight assists in 35 games this season – if their asking price is met.

ROUND-UP

- Quique Setien is under increasing pressure at Barcelona. RAC1 reports Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, chief executive Oscar Grau, sporting director Javier Bordas and technical secretary Eric Abidal met at Setien's house on Monday to discuss the current situation. Trailing Real Madrid by two points in LaLiga, Esport3 says Setien could be fired as early as this week.

- Arsenal have made a decision regarding Dani Ceballos. The Sun says the Premier League club will not make a move to buy the midfielder from Real Madrid when his loan deal expires at the end of the season.

- With Serie A promotion secured, Benevento could be set to strengthen. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the club are set to sign former Chelsea forward Loic Remy, who is coming out of contract at Lille.

- Real Sociedad are leading the chase to sign Real Madrid midfielder Takefusa Kubo on loan next season, according to AS. The 19-year-old has been on loan at Mallorca this season, while Milan are also reportedly interested in the Japan international.

- With Timo Werner joining Chelsea, RB Leipzig have seemingly found a replacement from the forward. According to Sky, Hwang Hee-chan will join Leipzig from Salzburg for about €10million. Hwang has been linked to the likes of Liverpool and Wolves.

- Celtic are reportedly keen to hold onto Fraser Forster. The goalkeeper has been on loan from Southampton this season and The Sun reports Celtic want to buy the former England international.

With COVID-19 keeping children all over the island at home this term, I began to make a link between them and student-athletes who, because of the changing nature of sports, move from school to school, resulting in a similar sort of dislocation.

Maurizio Sarri believes Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala can start against Genoa, but the Juventus coach is keen to avoid a "problem" going forward.

Juventus' busy run of fixtures continues against Genoa on Tuesday, before they host Torino four days later.

Ronaldo has played every minute of their four games since the coronavirus-enforced break, while Dybala has started each match.

Sarri said the pair were likely ready to start again, but he knows the star duo will need a rest at some stage.

"It's likely that they can start again [against Genoa]," he told a news conference.

"It's clear that if they play every game, in two or three matches we may have a problem, but I don't think there is any risk for them to suffer some sort of fatigue right now.

"In the long run though we need to have [Gonzalo] Higuain fit and able to play a large part of the game, this will become essential at some point."

With 10 games remaining in the Serie A season, Juventus hold a four-point lead atop the table.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to see Manchester United go through the rest of the season unbeaten.

United are on a 14-match unbeaten run as they chase a top-four finish in the Premier League and remain alive in the Europa League and FA Cup.

Solskjaer's men, who are sixth in the Premier League, will face Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals, while they are on track to reach the Europa League last eight.

And the United manager is challenging his side to go through the rest of the season without being beaten.

"Any Manchester United team should go into any game against any opposition believing they can win that game," Solskjaer told UK media.

"The short answer [if they can go unbeaten] is yes, but the long answer is that there's more to it than that. Of course, different things can play a part in this run, but we hope to extend it and want it for as long as possible.

"We're just going to take one game at a time. We know there's games every two or three days. We need a squad, everyone needs to play a part and we're delighted with the way things are going at the moment."

Sitting five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, United's bid for a top-four Premier League finish continues on Tuesday when they visit Brighton and Hove Albion.

They have been boosted by strong seasons from Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, who each have 14 league goals this campaign, and an improving Mason Greenwood (five).

Solskjaer wants greater depth at Old Trafford, saying: "You need competition for places at Man United.

"If you think you've got a divine right to be playing every game and are doing so well that we're not going to look for players to replace you, you're in the wrong place."

Derby County defender Andre Wisdom is in hospital after being the victim of "an unprovoked assault and robbery".

Media reports emerged on Monday claiming the former Liverpool player was stabbed while visiting family in the Toxteth area after the Rams' 2-1 Championship home win against Reading on Saturday.

Derby subsequently confirmed Wisdom had been subjected to an attack and was in a stable condition in hospital.

"Derby County Football Club can confirm that Andre Wisdom has been the victim of an unprovoked assault and robbery," an official statement read.

"He sustained injuries which resulted in him being admitted to hospital, where he is in a stable condition. 

"Merseyside Police are investigating and the club will focus its efforts on supporting Andre and his family. Therefore, we will not be making any further comment at this time."

Filippo Inzaghi's Benevento clinched promotion to Serie A on Monday with seven league games to spare.

Former Cagliari striker Marco Sau came off the bench to score the only goal in Benevento's 1-0 victory over Juve Stabia, a result that sealed the Serie B title.

Benevento, who have won 23 of their 31 league games and lost just once, have a 24-point advantage over Crotone and Cittadella.

Ascoli were the last club to be promoted with seven games remaining, and they did so in 1977-78 when only two points were awarded for a victory.

Benevento were promoted to Serie A for the first time in their history three years ago, but they were relegated after just one campaign having lost their first 14 games.

Former Milan and Bologna boss Inzaghi took over 12 months ago and will re-join his brother and Lazio coach Simone in Italy's top flight next term.

Benevento look to be preparing for life in Serie A already as ex-Chelsea and Marseille striker Loic Remy was reported to have arrived for a medical on Monday ahead of signing.

After weeks of speculation, Barcelona have agreed a deal to sign Miralem Pjanic from Juventus, with the sale of Arthur in the other direction having also been sanctioned.

It has been one of the more head-scratching transfer stories to have emerged in recent times, given at the age of 30 Pjanic has seven years on Brazil midfielder Arthur – a star whose talent is still burgeoning.

Barca will fork out an initial €60million to Juve, who have in turn agreed to stump up €72million for Arthur's services.

There is a general consensus that Juve have the better part of the agreement, due mainly to Pjanic's age.

The deal is sure to impact several of Barcelona's midfield too. We take a look at what the arrival of Pjanic may mean for the Blaugrana's current options.


IVAN RAKITIC

Croatia international Rakitic has been a mainstay of Barca's midfield since joining from Sevilla in 2014, winning four LaLiga titles, as many Copas del Rey and the Champions League during a trophy-laden stint. But Rakitic has not always been universally loved by the Camp Nou faithful, perhaps his only crime being he is simply not club legends Xavi or Andres Iniesta, and has at times been subjected to jeers from the crowd. With his contract up in 2021 there have been plenty of rumours Barca could cash in and Atletico Madrid have been strongly linked with his signature. The player himself said this month he is not heading for the exit door, but this rumour is unlikely to go away anytime soon.


SERGIO BUSQUETS

Busquets is heading for the sort of legendary status the aforementioned Xavi and Iniesta achieved at Camp Nou. Since breaking into the first team from the club's legendary La Masia academy 12 years ago, there has been no player in world football more consistently brilliant in the defensive pivot role and his influence on Barcelona for over a decade can never be understated. But the World Cup winner turns 32 next month and Father Time does not slow down even for the world's best. Such is Busquets' enduring quality, he likely has a couple more years left at the elite level, yet Barca will need to start contemplating life after this club great. Pjanic may have been brought in to help bridge the gap between generations.


RIQUI PUIG

Widely considered as a player to carry Barca into the next generation, Puig has made six LaLiga appearances this term – the only start among those outings only came in last weekend's 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo. With doubts over the long-term futures of Rakitic and Arturo Vidal, it looked as though a breakthrough to becoming a more regular and influential part of the first team was on the cards for the 20-year-old. But the arrival of Pjanic may mean that particular path is blocked once again for one of Barca's greatest hopes. With fellow academy graduate Carles Alena having departed for Real Betis on loan in search of regular football in January, and the possibility that move gets made permanent, Barca will need to assuage any concerns over a lack of minutes or risk their talented youngster getting itchy feet.


ARTURO VIDAL

The arrival of Vidal from Bayern Munich on a three-year deal in August 2018 was met with a similar lack of fanfare to Pjanic's. The fact the Chile midfielder was 31 when he moved to Camp Nou only adds to the similarities. Much like Rakitic, Vidal's future at Barca has been the subject of regular debate, with a return to Serie A – where he formerly represented Juventus – to link up with Antonio Conte at Inter frequently mooted. Vidal recently said he is happy to stay at Barcelona so long as he feels important. He turned 33 last month, though, and the arrival of Pjanic may complicate his desire to be utilised in the trophy-defining matches. With Vidal there is very much a watch-this-space feel.


FRENKIE DE JONG

to agreeing his big-money move to Barcelona from Ajax last year, at least if the newspapers are to believed. De Jong has made 27 LaLiga appearances, including 24 starts, in a debut campaign that has shown flashes of brilliance but never truly ignited. Lofty expectations and ruthlessness are common at a club the stature of Barca, Arthur himself can pay testament to that, and more will be expected of De Jong moving forward. Still, he remains just 23 and Barca will surely build around De Jong for the next decade – perhaps flanked by Pjanic for a decent chunk of that time.

Diego Simeone tried to sidestep a question relating to reports Barcelona coach Quique Setien has lost the support of key players but emphasised the importance of managing a squad's emotions.

Barca host Simeone's Atletico Madrid on Tuesday amid a difficult situation, with media reports claiming Setien and his coaching staff are at odds with key players.

A clip from Barca's 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo on Saturday went viral on social media due to it appearing to show Lionel Messi ignoring Setien's assistant Eder Sarabia.

Although Setien conceded it is normal to have occasional differences, he insisted the squad is unified despite the apparent issue with Sarabia and the fact certain publications have suggested the head coach himself has a strained relationship with Messi.

Simeone, who is rarely forthcoming regarding internal matters in news conferences, was typically reluctant to appear as if he was offering an opinion on Barca's problems, though he did stress the importance of squad harmony.

"You know me, I don't give my opinion on what's going on in other dressing rooms," Simeone told a news conference on Monday.

"I just make an opinion on ours. We need to keep it protected, always take care of it and always manage the feeling of the players, which is the most important for a squad.

"The most important thing is to manage, in my team, the emotional part, which I consider to be the key part."

When asked how he would solve issues similar to those appearing at Barca, he added: "I wouldn't tell you, and I would try to solve it naturally in our camp, which is the dressing room or the training session.

"A cup of coffee could also be there in any informal chat that could help for solving any internal issue."

Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has been handed a three-game ban by the Football Association (FA) for elbowing Leeds United defender Ben White.

The FA has retrospectively punished Mitrovic for an incident that happened just two minutes into Leeds' 3-0 Championship win over Fulham at Elland Road on Saturday.

Referee Tony Harrington did not see the incident at the time but Mitrovic admitted the act constituted violent conduct and he has therefore been banned.

Fulham, fifth in the table, are 10 points behind leaders Leeds and seven adrift of second-placed West Brom with seven games to go.

Mitrovic is the Championship's joint top scorer having netted 23 of his team's 52 goals in 2019-20.

The 25-year-old will miss matches against QPR, Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest.

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