Tag Archives: Championship

Forge FC owner cries foul at timing of Canadian Championship final

Forge FC owner Bob Young says the Canadian Premier League champions will be playing the Canadian Championship final against Toronto FC at a disadvantage.

In an open letter on social media, Young says Canada Soccer has proposed a date for the game “that worked for one team but ignored the situation of the other.”

While Young does not reference the date in his letter, March 20 has been talked about.

At issue for Young is the preparation time for both teams.

“Why would Canada Soccer propose a date to play this game where one of the teams had more than a month to practise and prepare for the game and, due to COVID restrictions, the other team only a week?” he wrote. “They are proposing a date that, according to leading Canadian soccer coaches and medical personnel I’ve spoken to, would put one team’s athletes at risk of injury, and would certainly give the team that had been practising an obvious and significant advantage.”

Toronto FC was granted permission by MLS to open camp early, on Feb. 17 to prepare for the Canadian Championship final. Most other teams started March 1.

In an interview, Young said Forge had only just received permission from the Ontario government to train.

“My complaint is not with any of the individuals at Canada Soccer. It is with the decision that they’ve reached on this topic,” he said.

The winner of the Canadian Championship final earns a berth in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, CONCACAF’s flagship club competition. The victor will meet Mexico’s Club Leon in a two-legged round-of-16 matchup scheduled for April 7 and 14.

The MLS season kicks off April 17.

Young said the game could be played the first week of April.

Forge booked its ticket to the Canadian Championship final by winning the Island Games in 2020. TFC made it by posting the best record in the all-Canadian portion of the pandemic-disrupted 2020 MLS season.

Young, who also owns the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, said he wrote the open letter because “Canada Soccer won’t respond to me.”

Canada Soccer, which runs the Canadian Championship, has yet to confirm the date or venue for the final. It has only said the game will take place in the first quarter of 2021.

Time is running short. There is a FIFA international window March 22-28 during which World Cup and Olympic qualifying matches are scheduled.

Canada Soccer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Young’s letter.

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CBC | Soccer News

Homan, Einarson improve to 8-1 at Canadian women’s curling championship

The favourites set the tone in championship pool play Friday at the Canadian women’s curling championship.

With a few surprise teams making the eight-team cut, perennial contenders Rachel Homan, Jennifer Jones and Kerri Einarson posted afternoon victories and showed why they’re good bets to reach the playoffs.

  • Watch and engage with CBC Sports’ That Curling Show live every day of The Scotties at 7:30 p.m. ET on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

“With only three teams advancing, you can’t have very many losses to advance,” Jones said. “So we know that and we know we’re going to have to play every game as though we have to get that W and hopefully we perform well.”

Homan’s Ontario team stole a point in the 10th end for a 7-6 victory over Chelsea Carey’s Team Wild Card One and then came back for an 8-7 win over Quebec’s Laurie St-Georges in an extra end.

That left Homan in top spot at 9-1 with Einarson, the defending champion, who topped Saskatchewan’s Sherry Anderson 10-6 before eliminating Carey from playoff contention with a 9-3 rout.

THAT CURLING SHOW | Previewing weekend play at the Scotties:

The drama is ramping up at the Scotties and Devin Heroux and Colleen Jones have all your predictions and scenarios. 49:50

Jones’s Manitoba team earned a split on the day to sit in a tie for third place at 7-3 with Alberta’s Laura Walker. Jones posted a 12-8 win over Beth Peterson of Team Wild Card Three before dropping a 7-5 decision to Walker.

“I guess mandatory is a good word for it,” Walker said of the win. “We needed it and I’m proud of the way we went out there and got it.”

With Anderson sitting out the nightcap with an injury, alternate Amber Holland threw fourth stones for Saskatchewan. She dropped a 10-9 decision to Peterson in an extra end that left both teams tied with Quebec at 6-4.

Earlier, Walker edged St-Georges 7-6 in an extra end. Saskatchewan and Quebec had an unexpected share of the Pool B lead after the preliminary round.

THAT CURLING SHOW | Laura Walker defeats Jennifer Jones:

Laura Walker beats Jennifer Jones 7-5, Alberta and Manitoba are now tied with 7-3 records. 0:51

Carey (5-5), who’s filling in at skip for Tracy Fleury this week, barely missed a runback double-takeout attempt with her final shot against Homan, who put the pressure on with two protected stones near the button.

“They hung in there with me and we made some good ones in the end,” Homan said of teammates Emma Miskew, Sarah Wilkes and Joanne Courtney.

Jones, who’s aiming for a record seventh Scotties Tournament of Hearts title, stole five points in the 10th for her afternoon victory. Einarson was also tested early in that draw before a late deuce sealed the win.

Two more draws were set for Saturday at the Markin MacPhail Centre. The top three teams in the eight-team pool will reach the playoffs on Sunday.

The second- and third-place teams will meet in an afternoon semifinal for a berth in the evening final against the first-place team.

The Hearts winner will return as Team Canada at the 2022 national playdowns in Thunder Bay, Ont. The champion will also earn a berth in the Olympic Trials in November at Saskatoon.

The men’s national championship — the Tim Hortons Brier — starts March 5 at the same Canada Olympic Park venue. The Hearts is the first of six bonspiels to be held at the arena through late April.

THAT CURLING SHOW | Ben Herbert logs Scotties championship predictions:

The Olympic gold medallist breaks down the competition heading into the weekend in the Calgary bubble. 3:26

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CBC | Sports News

Trump golf course stripped of 2022 PGA Championship after U.S. Capitol siege

The PGA of America cut ties to U.S. President Donald Trump when it voted Sunday to take the PGA Championship event away from his New Jersey golf course next year.

The vote comes four days after the Trump-fuelled riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress was certifying the election victory of president-elect Joe Biden. This is the second time in just over five years the PGA of America removed one of its events from a Trump course.

PGA President Jim Richerson says the board voted to exercise its right to “terminate the agreement” with Trump National in Bedminster, N.J.

“We find ourselves in a political situation not of our making,” Seth Waugh, the CEO of the PGA of America, said in a telephone interview. “We’re fiduciaries for our members, for the game, for our mission and for our brand. And how do we best protect that?

“Our feeling was given the tragic events of Wednesday that we could no longer hold it at Bedminster. The damage could have been irreparable. The only real course of action was to leave.”

The PGA of America, which has some 29,000 golf professionals who mostly teach the game, signed the deal with Trump National in 2014.

It cancelled the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in 2015 at Trump National Los Angeles Golf Club after Trump’s disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants when he announced he was seeking the Republican nomination for president. The event was cancelled for good the following spring.

‘Business decision’

The shocking insurrection Wednesday rattled the U.S., and attention quickly focused in golf circles on whether the PGA of America would keep its premier championship — and one of golf’s four major championships — at Trump’s course in 2022.

“Our decision wasn’t about speed and timing,” Waugh said. “What matters most to our board and leadership is protecting our brand and reputation, and the ability for our members to lead the growth of the game, which they do through so many powerful programs in their communities.”

Trump had delivered a speech to his supporters in which he repeatedly made baseless claims that the election was stolen from him and urged them to “fight.”

They stormed the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers were in the process of certifying Biden’s victory. After forcing their way inside, the violent crowd ransacked the building and sent terrified staff and lawmakers into hiding. Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died.

A new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday found that 67 per cent of respondents said Trump deserves a “good amount” or a “great deal” of blame for the insurrection.

“This is not because of any pressures we feel. We’re not being forced into a decision,” Waugh said. “We had to make a business decision. It’s a perpetual institution. My job is to hand it off better than when I found it. One hundred years from now, we still want to be vibrant.”

He chose not to comment when asked if he expected any legal challenge from the Trump Organization.

Trump’s presence hinders sponsors

The PGA of America, which operates separately from the PGA Tour and its week-to-week tournaments, previously held the Senior PGA Championship at Trump’s course outside Washington in 2017. That was the same year the USGA staged the U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National in Bedminster.

Trump also owns Turnberry in Scotland, one of the most picturesque links in the British Open rotation most famous for the “Duel in Sun” between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in 1977, and most recently Henrik Stenson beating Phil Mickelson in 2016. The R&A, which determines the British Open rotation, has not returned to Turnberry since Trump took over.

He also owns Trump Doral outside Miami, for years a venerable stop on the PGA Tour schedule and most recently a World Golf Championship site. Trump’s presence made it difficult to find a corporate sponsor, and the tournament moved to Mexico in 2017.

Waugh said the PGA of America already had a team in place in New Jersey to start work on selling the events to the public and local sponsorship. Now it’s about finding a place to play the PGA Championship, which dates to 1916, for next year.

The PGA is at Kiawah Island in South Carolina in May.

“We’ve had a number of places reach out already,” he said. “We think we’ll have a bunch of options.”

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CBC | World News

Things to watch for as ‘Tampa Bay Raptors’ chase another championship

There is no incoming star to impress, no title to defend.

Instead, the Toronto Raptors enter the 2020-21 season as wanderers, for at least the first half of the schedule, playing out of Tampa Bay as the only NBA team displaced from its home market by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like the Blue Jays before them, the Raptors were denied an exception to travel back and forth between the U.S. and Canada while forgoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Tampa Bay Raptors it is, then.

Two seasons ago, the Raptors inherited a disgruntled Kawhi Leonard, who led them to a championship. After Leonard left, this past campaign was the title defence, a “prove-it” run that showed the prior version wasn’t solely fuelled by Leonard.

But as things are in 2020, the pandemic picked the major storyline for the latest iteration of the Raptors: how they’ll handle being away from home.

Here are eight other things to watch for during the shortened 72-game season:

Masai Ujiri’s contract is expiring. The architect behind the greatest era in Raptors history is set to become a free agent after the season. Ujiri recently said the team’s relocation pushed his own contract status off the front burner, but ownership group MLSE has been open about its willingness to re-sign its president of basketball operations. The fact that nothing has been completed suggests that Ujiri is at least considering other options. We know he has interests outside of basketball, and with no major job openings within the sport, perhaps that’s the 50-year-old’s next move. General manager Bobby Webster’s contract is also expiring, though that deal is reportedly close to done. 

Kyle Lowry’s contract is expiring, too. The star behind the greatest era in Raptors history is set to hit the open market after his current one-year, $ 30.5 million US deal expires following this season. At 35, Lowry may be looking to join more of a championship contender than the Raptors. And if the season goes sideways, the team may investigate dealing its leader before he can bolt for nothing in free agency. Having signed a one-year extension on the eve of last season, Lowry is ineligible to sign another. Barring a trade, we won’t have a conclusion to this storyline until next summer.

WATCH | 3 things to look for in upcoming Raptors’ season:

CBC Sports Senior Contributor Vivek Jacob breaks down three things Raptors fans need to know before the new season kicks off. 2:59

OG Anunoby seems primed for a breakout. The 23-year-old signed a four-year, $ 72 million contract extension on the eve of the season Monday. Anunoby played hero in the playoffs when he hit a self-proclaimed “cool” buzzer-beating three-pointer to win Game 3 of their playoff against the Celtics. He was perhaps the only Raptor to outperform expectations in that series, shooting the ball well and showing flashes of a dribble-drive game. Anunoby’s defensive game is already elite, but he could start to receive more recognition if given more responsibility against opponents’ top options. With the new contract, the Raptors are betting Anunoby will make good on that potential.

The Raptors’ success may hinge on Pascal Siakam. The power forward from Cameroon has transformed from miscast rookie starter into a fourth-year all-star. That type of trajectory is rare in the NBA and could signal there is more still to come from the 26-year-old. With Giannis Antetokounmpo re-signed in Milwaukee, Siakam could be the Raptors’ best hope at gaining a superstar.

Who will replace Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka? The Raptors saw two key pieces from their championship season depart with this centre duo. Two lesser players, Aron Baynes and Alex Len, were brought in as replacements. Baynes will likely start (alongside Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Anunoby and Siakam) in an effort to approximate Gasol’s role. The Aussie sets hard screens and showed some flair for three-point shooting last season. He’s a presence in the post defensively, though he lacks the acumen of Gasol. Ibaka’s mid-range offence in the halfcourt will be missed as well. Len is fighting Canadian Chris Boucher for backup minutes, with the early edge seeming to go to the Montreal native.

Terence Davis may not be a Raptor for long. The 23-year-old is facing several charges after allegedly assaulting his girlfriend in October. Davis’ next court appearance is Wednesday, the same day the Raptors open their season in Tampa against the New Orleans Pelicans. Davis’ lawyer said she hopes to have the charges dismissed. The NBA is conducting its own investigation and can punish Davis regardless of the legal outcome. While some are calling for the Raptors to waive Davis, such a move would likely invite a grievance from the NBA Players Association, given the ongoing status of both the league and judicial investigations.

WATCH | 3 Canadian NBA players to watch out for:

With Canadians slowly taking over the NBA, Vivek Jacob points out three key players to look our for this season. 1:59

Fred VanVleet bet on himself and won. To the tune of a four-year, $ 84 million contract he landed in the off-season. The undrafted guard and 2019 playoff hero made good on his bet from draft day, when he told teams not to pick him in the second round so that he could choose his own destination. Now, after a pair of short-term contracts, VanVleet has cashed in. But with money comes pressure: VanVleet has struggled against bigger defenders in the playoffs, and he’s one of the worst guards in the league at finishing at the rim. But his Lowry-like defence, sweet side-spinning shot and leadership already make up for those flaws. If everything breaks right, VanVleet could make his first all-star team.

The East is suddenly loaded. For years the Eastern conference was much weaker than the Western, where it could sometimes take 50 wins just to make the playoffs. But with the arrival of the Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving duo in Brooklyn, the gap between the conferences is narrower than ever. That, obviously, is a problem for the Raptors. The Nets, led by Steve Nash, are just one more contender among a group already including Milwaukee, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami and Toronto. The Raptors, in the Ujiri-Lowry era, have always been a strong regular-season team. A top-three finish this season should ensure an easier first-round playoff matchup. Just one more twist for what promises to be a grinding season in Tampa Bay.

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CBC | Sports News

Kathryn Nesbitt, 2020 Assistant Referee of the Year, becomes the first woman to referee a championship match in professional men's sports in North America by officiating the 2020 MLS Cup Final.

Kathryn Nesbitt becomes 1st woman to officiate men’s championship match in North America

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Kathryn Nesbitt becomes 1st woman to officiate men's championship match in North America

Kathryn Nesbitt, 2020 Assistant Referee of the Year, becomes the first woman to referee a championship match in professional men’s sports in North America by officiating the 2020 MLS Cup Final.

CBC | Soccer News

USL Championship final called off following widening COVID-19 outbreak

The United Soccer League has cancelled Sunday’s USL Championship final, citing “multiple” positive COVID-19 tests among the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

The Rowdies, whose roster includes Canadian wingback Malik Johnson, were slated to meet Phoenix Rising FC at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Rowdies announced Friday that head coach Neill Collins and two others, who were not identified, had tested positive for COVID-19 and would miss the final. The Tampa Bay Times reported that assistant coach Kevin Foley was one of the three to test positive.

At the time, the club said there were no other positive tests among Rowdies players and staff.

But the outbreak widened and the league said additional testing Saturday had produced multiple positive tests within the Rowdies. It said it was calling off the final “for the health and safety of everyone involved.”

“The affected individuals have been immediately isolated at home, are recovering in good spirits under the care of team physicians and infectious disease experts, and all league, local and state health and wellness protocols continue to be followed,” the league said in a statement.

The league said the season would end with the Rowdies and Phoenix Rising FC as Eastern Conference and Western Conference winners, respectively.

“First and foremost, we want to applaud these two teams on an incredible season,” USL president Jake Edwards said in a statement. “They deserved the opportunity to play for the USL Championship final trophy and we are disappointed that we won’t be able to watch them on Sunday night.”

The league said the two teams “will explore the possibility of a 2021 season kickoff game” prior to the 2021 season.

The final had been a sellout with some 1,500 fans allowed into the 7,500-capacity stadium.

After going into lockdown in March, the USL Championship started a modified schedule in July with teams divided into eight regionalized groups and playing a 16-game schedule.

Tampa Bay (10-3-3) won Group H, which also featured the Charleston Battery, Miami FC and Atlanta United 2. Phoenix (11-3-2) topped Group B, which also included L.A. Galaxy 2, Orange County SC, San Diego Loyal and Las Vegas Lights.

Phoenix got to the final the hard way, needing extra time in all three playoff games, including penalty shootout wins over Reno 1868 FC in the Western Conference semifinal and El Paso Locomotive FC in the final after opening the playoffs with a win over the Sacramento Republic.

Tampa downed the Birmingham Legion, Charleston and Louisville City en route to the championship game. Johnson, who has been nursing a knee injury, came off the bench in all three games.

The 22-year-old from Toronto spent five years in the Toronto FC system before signing with Tampa Bay in December 2018.

The USL Championship is the second-tier league in the U.S.

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CBC | Soccer News

Lakers romp to record-tying 17th championship to end season like no other

The ultimate anguish. The ultimate joy.

This season, for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, had it all. And it ended in the only fashion that they deemed would be acceptable, with them back atop the basketball world.

For the first time since Kobe Bryant’s fifth and final title, a decade ago, the Lakers are NBA champions. James had 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Lakers beat the Miami Heat 106-93 on Sunday night to win the NBA Finals in six games.

“Our organization wants their respect. Laker Nation wants their respect,” James said. “And I want my damn respect, too.”

Anthony Davis had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who dealt with the enormous anguish that followed the death of the iconic Bryant in January and all the challenges that came with leaving home for three months to play at Walt Disney World in a bubble designed to keep inhabitants safe from the coronavirus.

WATCH | Lakers summit basketball world:

Los Angeles Lakers defeat Miami Heat 106-93 to capture a record-tying 17th championship. 1:39

It would be, James predicted, the toughest title to ever win.

“We have a Ph.D in adversity, I’ll tell you that much,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We’ve been through a lot.”

They made the clincher look easy. James won his fourth title, doing it with a third different team—and against a Heat franchise that showed him how to become a champion.

Lebron James won his fourth title on Sunday, doing it with a third different franchise —having won his first two titles in Miami (2012 and 2013) and his third with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2016). (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press )

Bam Adebayo had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Miami, which got 12 points from Jimmy Butler — the player who, in his first Heat season, got the team back to title contention. Rajon Rondo scored 19 points for the Lakers.

With that, the league’s bubble chapter, put together after a 4 1/2-month suspension of play that started March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic and came with a promise that it would raise awareness to the problems of racial injustice and police brutality, is over. So, too, is a season that saw the league and China get into political sparring, the death on Jan. 1 of commissioner emeritus David Stern — the man who did so much to make the league what it is — and then the shock on Jan. 26 that came with the news that Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other died in a helicopter crash.

The Lakers said they were playing the rest of the season in his memory.

The Los Angeles Lakers celebrate after winning the NBA Championship. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press )

They delivered what Bryant did five times for L.A. — a ring, and the clincher was emphatic.

“You have written your own inspiring chapter in the great Laker history,” Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said. “And to Laker Nation, we have been through a heartbreaking tragedy with the loss of our beloved Kobe Bryant. Let this trophy serve as a reminder of when we come together, believe in each other, incredible things can happen.”

Game 6 was over by halftime, the Lakers taking a 64-36 lead into the break. The Heat never led and couldn’t shoot from anywhere: 35 per cent from 2-point range in the half, 33 per cent from 3-point range and even an uncharacteristic 42 per cent from the line, not like any of it really mattered. The Lakers were getting everything they wanted and then some, outscoring Miami 36-16 in the second quarter and doing all that with James making just one shot in the period.

WATCH | Lakers celebrate record-tying 17th championship:

Lakers celebrate record-tying 17th championship after victory over Heat in Game 6. 1:14

Rondo, now a two-time champion and the first to win rings as a player in both Boston and Los Angeles — the franchises now tied with 17 titles apiece — was 6 for 6 in the half, the first time he’d done that since November 2007. The Lakers’ lead was 46-32 with 5:00 left in the half, and they outscored Miami 18-4 from there until intermission.

Ball game. The 28-point halftime lead was the second-biggest in NBA Finals history, topped only by the Celtics leading the Lakers 79-49 on May 27, 1985.

“We didn’t get the final result that we wanted,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But even what I mentioned to the guys, these are going to be lifetime memories that we have together. This locker room … we’re going to remember this year, this season, this experience and that locker room brotherhood for the rest of our lives.”

True to form, the Heat — a No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference that finished with a losing record last season, a team that embraced the challenge of the bubble like none other — didn’t stop playing, not even when the deficit got to 36 in the third quarter.

A 23-8 run by Miami got the Heat to 90-69 with 8:37 left. But the outcome was never in doubt, and before long confetti was blasted into the air as the Lakers’ celebration formally and officially began.

“Laker Nation,” Vogel, now a first-time champion bellowed. “We did it.”

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CBC | Sports News

Real Madrid clinches record-extending 34th La Liga championship

Real Madrid clinched its first Spanish league title in three years on Thursday after extending its perfect run following the pandemic break.

Madrid secured its record 34th league title with a 2-1 win over Villarreal, opening a seven-point gap to second-place Barcelona with one round to go. Barcelona lost to 10-man Osasuna at the Camp Nou Stadium.

Karim Benzema scored twice to give Madrid its 10th consecutive league victory. It is the only team with a perfect record after the coronavirus-enforced break, having trailed Barcelona by two points before the league was halted.

It was Madrid’s first league title since Cristiano Ronaldo left to join Juventus two seasons ago, and the first since coach Zinedine Zidane returned from a short break.

The title celebrations were subdued as the triumph came with Madrid playing without fans and at its training centre because the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium remains undergoing renovation work.

Madrid last lifted the league trophy in 2017, a year before Ronaldo departed. Zidane quit at the end of the 2017-18 season after leading the club to a third straight Champions League title. He was asked to return less than a year later as the team endured a streak of poor results in the Spanish league and the Champions League.

Barcelona had won the last two league titles but stuttered after the break, drawing three times and losing once after the league resumed.

Benzema — one of Madrid’s key players this season — opened the scoring with a shot from inside the area in the 29th minute and added to the lead by converting a penalty in the 77th, reaching 21 league goals and moving within two of scoring leader Lionel Messi, who netted for Barcelona against Osasuna.

Benzema’s goal from the penalty spot came after Sergio Ramos’ initial attempt was called back after he just rolled the ball sideways to Benzema to score. The French striker had entered the area too soon and the penalty had to be taken again.

Luka Modric set up Benzema’s first goal after a breakaway that started near midfield.

Fifth-place Villarreal pulled one back with a header by Vicente Iborra in the 83rd. It was denied an equalizer by a great save by Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in stoppage time.

Madrid’s Marco Asensio had a goal disallowed moments later.

Barcelona falters

Barcelona needed to win its match and hope Madrid slipped up. Instead it lost 2-1 at home against midtable Osasuna.

Messi scored his league-leading 23rd goal from a free kick in the second half to cancel out Jose Arnaiz’s opener.

Osasuna lost substitute Enric Gallego to a direct red card for bloodying the mouth of Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet with an elbow to the face in the 77th.

But Osasuna’s Roberto Torres scored in stoppage time with Barcelona pushing forward searching for a late goal.

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CBC | Soccer News

Liverpool clinches 1st Premier League championship in 30 years

The 30-year wait is over. Liverpool is champion of England again.

Liverpool clinched its first league title since 1990 on Thursday, ending an agonizing title drought without the players even having to take the field.

Instead, the Premier League crown was secured when Chelsea beat second-place Manchester City 2-1, a result that means City can no longer catch Liverpool with seven games remaining.

For the city of Liverpool, this has been a party three decades in the making, but the ongoing restrictions caused by the coronavirus meant fans were unable to celebrate in large crowds.

Only a few dozen fans were outside Anfield as the final whistle blew at Stamford Bridge, setting off fireworks and chanting.

Many more then arrived, waving flags and singing “Allez, Allez, Allez” on the steps of the stadium as flares and more fireworks went off.

“It is such a big moment, I am completely overwhelmed,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who was almost in tears as he spoke to broadcaster Sky Sports via video link. “I never would have thought it would feel like this. I had no idea.”

WATCH | Premier League players stage show of solidarity for Black Lives Matter:

Aston Villa and Sheffield United players took a knee at kickoff in support of the “Black Lives Matter” movement as the Premier League season restarted on Wednesday. 2:00

After a dominant campaign that was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, Liverpool became England’s earliest-ever champion — and the latest. No team since the inception of the country’s league system in 1888 has clinched the title with seven games remaining. And no team has been crowned Premier League champion in June.

The title itself had hardly been in doubt since December, with Jurgen Klopp’s team quickly building a massive lead with a rampant attacking style of play that has earned 28 wins in 31 games so far.

“The world has watched the fierce determination of this club on the field for every single match,” said John Henry, Liverpool’s American-based owner, “the preparation, the resolve and the talent of those who put together perhaps the greatest league performance ever in any country’s history.”

For a while, though, it seemed the coronavirus could still prevent Liverpool from ending its drought.

The club was 25 points clear when the league was abruptly halted in March as the country was forced into lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“Null and void” became the dreaded term in the red half of Liverpool amid fears the season could be cancelled completely as the coronavirus death toll soared and clubs struggled to agree on a strategy to restart the league during the country’s gravest emergency since World War II.

After Liverpool finally returned to the field on Sunday, a 0-0 draw in the Merseyside derby against Everton delayed the crowning moment. But not for long.

The team quickly rediscovered its scintillating attacking form as it swept aside Crystal Palace 4-0 on Wednesday inside an empty Anfield.

Chelsea helps Liverpool secure title

Chelsea then put Liverpool over a winning line that had proved so elusive for a team accustomed to dominating English football in the 1970s and 80s.

After waiting so long to win a 19th English title, the pandemic left an anticlimactic cloud over celebrations on the hottest day of the year so far.

Fans couldn’t even gather in pubs, which have been shut since March, to watch Chelsea clinch the title for them. Gatherings of multiple households are also still banned inside.

The only communal viewing experiences allowed are for groups of up to six people to meet outside. Photos of garden viewings spread on social media. A few fans watched on phones outside Anfield.

Klopp adds more silverware

Klopp, who has restored a winning mentality to Liverpool with his brand of “heavy metal” football, was watching at home. The German manager already led the club to the Champions League title last year, but this will widely be regarded as the moment he truly brought Liverpool back to the pinnacle of English football.

The last time Liverpool won the league, it was still called the First Division and the club held the English record for most titles with 18. But the inception of the Premier League in 1992 transformed the landscape of the English game.

Liverpool faded as a force, to be eclipsed by Manchester United. Sweeping to 13 Premier League titles, United manager Alex Ferguson succeeded in his mission of knocking Liverpool “off their perch” by helping the Mancunians become 20-time English champions and one of the wealthiest sports teams in the world.

Overcoming a financial crisis

Liverpool was even in a fight for financial survival in 2010 when the American ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. plunged the club into heavy debt.

The club was rescued — via High Court action — by new American investors from the Fenway Sports Group led by John Henry, who added Liverpool to an investment portfolio that included the MLB’s Boston Red Sox.

It has been on a steady rebuilding path since.

The experiment of bringing back 1990-title winning manager Kenny Dalglish was short-lived, as it its eighth-place finish in the league in 2012 was the club’s lowest in 18 years.

Within two years, the team was on the ascent again under Brendan Rodgers, finishing within two points of champion Manchester City in 2014. The anguish of coming so close to the summit before slipping up — literally, as then-captain Steven Gerrard slipped on the field at a crucial moment — was hard to recover from.

A slump in form saw Rodgers fired in 2015, which ushered in the arrival of Klopp.

After a slow start, and another eighth-place finish, Liverpool regained its swagger.

Not even the sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in 2018 derailed Liverpool’s ambitions. Instead, that money was reinvested wisely to ensure that the entertaining attack unit had a robust barrier at the back with then world-record fees paid for goalkeeper Alisson and centre back Virgil van Dijk.

More frustration was to come, though. After leading the league for much of the campaign, Liverpool finished just one point behind winner Man City last season following one of the closest and most entertaining title races in history.

There was no stopping Klopp’s team this time.

“We had a magnificent season last year, but we came in second and so this is especially gratifying for us,” Liverpool chairman Tom Werner told The Associated Press after watching the game on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. “We share our joy with your game and our team. They really did play magnificently all year. Yesterday’s game was another example of how talented the team is. And I’m just happy for all of our supporters in Liverpool and around the world.”

But any thoughts of a victory parade will have to wait until the pandemic regulations are eased further.

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CBC | Soccer News