Tag Archives: England

Canada to face England in friendly in April in preparation for Olympics

Canada will play England in a women’s soccer friendly on April 13 as part of its preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.

Canada Soccer called it an away match but said location will be announced at a later date. The game falls during the April FIFA international window.

England is ranked sixth in the world while the Canadians are tied for No. 8 with Brazil.

The match will be a reunion of sorts.

Bev Priestman, an English native who took over the Canadian team in November, left Canada Soccer in August 2018 to become an assistant coach with England under Phil Neville.

Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson, meanwhile, left her job as Canadian youth coach and senior assistant coach last month to become an assistant coach job with the English women.

Canada is 6-7-0 all-time against England. The Canadians won the last meeting between the two, in April 2019 in Manchester, England, on the strength of a Christine Sinclair goal in the 80th minute.

That 1-0 win avenged a 2-1 quarterfinal loss to the Lionesses in Vancouver at the 2015 World Cup.

Canada has won two of their last three meetings but lost four straight to the English prior to that. The teams first met in June 1995 in Helsingborg, Sweden, in the World Cup debut for both. England won 3-2.

Return to the pitch

The Canadian women return to action later this month at the four-country SheBelieves Cup in Orlando. Canada opens Feb. 18 against the top-ranked U.S before facing No. 31 Argentina on Feb. 21 and No. 8 Brazil on Feb. 24.

Canada last played March 10, 2020, when it tied Brazil 2-2 at an international tournament in France.

A growing number of Canadians now play in the FA Women’s Super League in England. They include Janine Beckie (Manchester City), Jessie Fleming (Chelsea), Rylee Foster (Liverpool), Adriana Leon (West Ham) and Shelina Zadorsky (Tottenham).

The Canadian women won bronze at the last two Olympics. England will be part of a Great Britain entry in the Olympic soccer tournament slated to run July 21 to Aug. 6.

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Canada’s Rhian Wilkinson joins England women’s coaching staff

Former Canadian assistant coach Rhian Wilkinson has joined the England women’s team coaching staff.

Wilkinson quit Canada Soccer last week, saying she was stepping aside to challenge herself and to add to her coaching skills — with an eye to coaching Canada in the future. The 38-year-old, who won 181 caps for Canada as a player, had been serving as assistant coach of the senior women’s team and head coach of the under-17 and under-20 sides.

England’s Football Association said Wilkinson will support former Norway midfielder Hege Riise. Kay Cossington, the FA’s head of women’s technical development, will also help at a February camp.

Sarina Wiegman is slated to take over the sixth-ranked English women as head coach after guiding the Netherlands at the Tokyo Olympics. The FA said both Riise and Wilkinson had agreed to short-term contracts.

“They bring significant international experience and will help guide our players before the arrival of Sarina Wiegman as our new head coach to lead us into the home Euro [Euroean championship] in 2022,” Sue Campbell, the FA’s director of women’s football, said in a statement.

“Once February is complete, we will sit down and assess the Lionesses situation and consider next steps for Team GB in consultation with the home nations and the British Olympic Association.”

England still on the lookout

The English women’s coaching staff has been in a state of flux recently. Head coach Phil Neville has joined Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami while Bev Priestman, his former assistant, took over the Canadian women’s team in November. Wilkinson had succeeded Priestman as Canada youth coach when she returned to her native England in 2018.

Another opening came up on the England staff when Rehanne Skinner went to Tottenham last November. The FA said both Riise and Wilkinson applied for Skinner’s job.

Neville, a former teammate of Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham at Manchester United, had been tabbed to coach Great Britain at the Olympic soccer tournament before taking the MLS job.

Wilkinson also applied for the top Canadian job but was told it was too early in her coaching career. Priestman asked her to stay on but Wilkinson wanted to challenge herself elsewhere.

The 51-year-old Riise, named the 1995 world player of the year, won the Olympic, World Cup and European Championship as a player. Most recently she has coached Norway powerhouse LSK Kvinner.

Wilkinson, a native of Baie-D’Urfe, Que., who now calls North Vancouver home, played for Canada between 2003 and 2017, finishing with seven goals and 23 assists.

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England under new lockdown in response to highly transmissible coronavirus variant

The latest:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday a new national lockdown for England until at least mid-February to combat a fast-spreading new variant of the coronavirus, even as Britain ramped up its vaccination program by becoming the first nation to start using the shot developed by Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca.

Johnson said people must stay at home again, as they were ordered to do so in the first wave of the pandemic in March, this time because the new virus variant was spreading in a “frustrating and alarming” way.

“As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from COVID than at any time since the start of the pandemic,” he said.

Under the new rules, which are set to come into effect as soon as possible, primary and secondary schools and colleges will be closed for face-to-face learning except for the children of key workers. University students will not be returning until at least mid-February.

WATCH | Johnson announces new lockdown for England:

Measures enacted due to an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases across Britain, aided by the new, rapidly spreading variant of the virus. 2:22

All non-essential shops and personal-care services such as hairdressers will be closed, and restaurants can only operate takeout services.

As of Monday, there were 26,626 COVID-19 patients in hospitals in England, an increase of more than 30 per cent from a week ago. That is 40 per cent above the highest level of the first wave in the spring.

Large areas of England were already under tight restrictions as officials try to control an alarming surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, blamed on a new variant of COVID-19 that is more contagious than existing variants. Authorities have recorded more than 50,000 new infections daily since passing that milestone for the first time on Dec. 29. On Monday, they reported 407 virus-related deaths to push the confirmed death toll total to 75,431, one of the worst in Europe.

The U.K.’s chief medical officers warned that without further action, “there is a material risk of the National Health Service in several areas being overwhelmed over the next 21 days.”

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon also said that starting Tuesday, people in Scotland are legally required to stay at home except for essential reasons to curb a renewed surge of coronavirus infections. She told lawmakers on Monday that Scotland will be placed in lockdown for at least the whole of January to help ease the pressure on hospitals and intensive care units.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s hospitals chief said Monday that the country’s facilities cannot manage the current trajectory of its fast-growing COVID-19 outbreak and will cancel most non-urgent procedures this week to create as much spare critical-care space as possible.

What’s happening across Canada

As of 6:30 p.m. ET Monday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 611,423, with 77,465 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 16,074.

British Columbia recorded 2,211 new COVID-19 cases over the past four days, along with 45 more deaths.

In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney said Monday he has accepted the resignations of Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard as minister of municipal affairs and of Jamie Huckabay, his chief of staff. In a Facebook post on Monday, Kenney said he has also demoted five other United Conservative Party MLAs who travelled internationally over the holidays. 

Alberta’s minister of municipal affairs, Tracy Allard, has resigned after travelling to Hawaii. In a Facebook post on Monday, Alberta Premier Kenney said he has also demoted five other United Conservative Party MLAs who travelled internationally over the holidays. (Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier)

Alberta on Monday reported more than 5,100 new cases of COVID-19 over the past five days as it resumed reporting Monday. The province also announced 96 deaths related to COVID-19 since Dec. 29, including its first death of a health-care worker.

In Saskatchewan, Premier Scott Moe accepted Joe Hargrave’s resignation from his positions as minister of highways and minister responsible for the water security agency after it emerged he travelled to Palm Springs, Calif., over the holidays. Hargrave will remain a provincial representative. 

Meanwhile, the province recorded 286 more cases of COVID-19 and the deaths of two seniors on Monday.

Manitoba announced 118 new infections and five new deaths on Monday.

Ontario reported 3,270 new COVID-19 cases and 29 new deaths on Monday. With the new cases, the province’s seven-day average of daily cases is approaching 3,000 for the first time, and the number of patients hospitalized jumped considerably to 1,190. Of those, 333 are being treated in intensive care, while 194 require the use of a ventilator.

The province also reported three new cases of the coronavirus variant first found in the U.K., bringing its total to six.

Just before noon, the first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the province — personal support worker Anita Quidangen — received her second dose at Toronto’s University Health Network, 21 days after the first dose.

Premier Doug Ford was on hand to witness the event and said Ontario is going “full steam forward” with its vaccination efforts. More than 42,000 vaccine doses had been administered in Ontario as of Sunday, according to provincial data. A provincewide lockdown remains in effect as elementary school students returned to school online Monday.

WATCH | Ford says Ontario ramping up vaccine rollout:

Ontario Premier Doug Ford promised a ‘significant difference’ in the speed of Ontario’s vaccine rollout, as health-care workers began receiving their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. 0:34

Marit Stiles, the NDP’s education critic, said in an interview with CBC Toronto that the Ontario government doesn’t know how many students in publicly funded schools are asymptomatic across the province and that a “comprehensive testing strategy” is needed.

In an open letter to parents released on the weekend, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that “schools are not a source of rising community transmission,” according to medical experts. 

Toronto also announced new measures to publish details on COVID-19 in workplaces. Businesses will need to “immediately notify” Toronto Public Health as soon as they become aware of two or more employees with COVID-19 and designate a contact person.

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported 17 new cases on Monday, while Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case, breaking a five-day streak without any new infections.

WATCH | Educators find innovative ways to teach outside the classroom:

The pandemic has forced educators across Canada to find innovative new ways to teach from a distance. 2:06

Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia did not report any new cases on Sunday.

Some Halifax-area restaurants were scrambling over the weekend to prepare for reopening after the province announced on New Year’s Eve that restaurants and bars would be allowed to offer dine-in service again starting on Monday.

Quebec reported 2,546 new cases of COVID-19 and 32 more deaths on Monday. There were 1,294 people in hospital with the illness, including 188 in intensive care.

More than 30,000 people in the province had received the first dose of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine as of Sunday.

The provincial government has given the green light for the Vancouver Canucks to play home games in the province during the upcoming 2021 NHL season.

WATCH | Infectious diseases specialist on essential workers and the risk of COVID-19:

Air travel is a concern but not the main driver of higher COVID-19 numbers in Ontario, says infectious disease specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti. He says cases are still rising in parts of the province because lockdowns do not address the problems of essential workers getting the virus at work and bringing it home. 2:50

In the North, Nunavut reported no new active cases on Monday, leaving it with zero. However, a resident who travelled to Winnipeg to give birth died Sunday. She contracted COVID-19 after having a caesarean section. She had been on breathing support for more than a month.

Yukon also did not report any new cases on Sunday, while the N.W.T. did not provide updated figures over the weekend.

Here’s a look at what’s happening with COVID-19 across the country:

WATCH | B.C. gives green light for in-province NHL games:

B.C is now the second province to approve the NHL’s COVID-19 safety plans to host games in the province once the season begins on Jan. 13. With three more provinces still to decide, a doctor weighs in about those plans. 1:33

What’s happening around the world

As of Monday afternoon, more than 85.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide with more than 47.9 million cases considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 1.8 million.

A government worker gestures as another worker sprays disinfectant on a street in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Meanwhile, France’s cautious approach to its vaccine rollout appears to have backfired, leaving just a few hundred people vaccinated after the first week and rekindling anger over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

President Emmanuel Macron was scheduled to hold a special meeting with top government officials on Monday afternoon to address the vaccine strategy and other virus developments.

In France, a country of 67 million people, just 516 people were vaccinated in the first six days, while Germany’s first-week total surpassed 200,000 and Italy’s was over 100,000.

In Asia-Pacific, Sri Lankan authorities on Monday announced that schools will partially reopen starting next week, after being closed for nearly three months due to a COVID-19 surge. The Education Ministry has decided to keep schools closed in the capital Colombo and surrounding suburbs.

Mask-wearing has become mandatory is some circumstances in Australia’s largest city due to the pandemic risk. People risk a 200 Australian dollar ($ 196 Cdn) fine in Sydney if they don’t wear masks in shopping malls, on public transport and in various indoor areas.

Thailand has registered 745 new coronavirus cases, with a new death reported in Bangkok, where a semi-lockdown went into effect. The government has ordered all schools closed from Monday but has not yet closed down shopping malls or stores, while restaurants are still allowed to operate but cannot serve alcoholic beverages.

Medical team members conduct COVID-19 testing in Bogota, Colombia, last week. The capital will implement strict two-week quarantines in three neighbourhoods beginning on Tuesday. (Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters)

In the Americas, Brazil confirmed on Monday its first cases of the coronavirus variant first discovered in the United Kingdom. Two cases were reported in Sao Paulo state.

The U.S. health and human services secretary is shooting down the idea of expanding the number of Americans getting a COVID-19 vaccine by giving them only one dose instead of the two being administered now.

Some health experts have suggested that, with vaccine supplies short, people might get partial protection from a single dose and that should be considered as a way to reach far more people faster. But Alex Azar said “the data just isn’t there to support that and we’re not going to do that.”

Azar said the U.S. has reported 1.5 million vaccinations in the last 72 hours, a “very rapid uptick” that he predicts will continue.

Colombia’s capital, Bogota, will implement strict two-week quarantines in three neighbourhoods beginning on Tuesday to try to control a second wave of coronavirus.

In the Middle East, Jordan has struck a deal with Pfizer and partner BioNTech to buy one million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine and another two million doses from the World Health Organization’s s COVAX program.

In Africa, South Africa is aiming to get COVID-19 vaccines by next month but is still in talks with pharmaceutical companies and no deals have yet been signed.

The country remains the hardest hit on the continent, with more than 1.1 million cases and more than 29,000 deaths reported since the start of the pandemic.

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British PM imposes new lockdown in England as national COVID-19 cases top 1 million

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced a new month-long lockdown for England after being warned that without tough action, a resurgent coronavirus outbreak will overwhelm hospitals in weeks.

On the day the U.K. passed one million confirmed COVID-19 cases, Johnson made a sudden about-face and confirmed that stringent restrictions on business and daily life would begin Thursday and last until Dec. 2.

He said at a televised news conference that “no responsible prime minister” could ignore the grim figures.

“Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day,” said Johnson, who was hospitalized earlier this year for a serious case of COVID-19.

Under the new restrictions, bars and restaurants can only offer takeout, non-essential shops must close and people will only be able to leave home for a short list of reasons, including exercise. Activities ranging from haircuts to foreign holidays must once again be put on hold.

People talk inside a pub in Durham, England, as Johnson’s news conference is seen televised on Saturday. Johnson says bars and restaurants in England can only offer takeout starting on Thursday. (Lee Smith/Reuters)

Unlike during Britain’s first lockdown earlier this year, schools, universities, construction sites and manufacturing businesses will stay open.

As in other European countries, virus cases in the U.K. began to climb after lockdown measures were eased in the summer, and people began to return to workplaces, schools, universities and social life.

Johnson had hoped a set of regional restrictions introduced earlier in October would be enough to push numbers down. But government scientific advisers predict that on the outbreak’s current trajectory, demand for hospital beds will exceed capacity by the first week of December, even if temporary hospitals set up during the first peak of the virus are reopened.

The scientists warned that COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths could soon surpass the levels seen at the outbreak’s spring peak, when daily deaths topped 1,000. The government’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, said the mortality rate had the “potential to be twice as bad, if not more” than it was during the pandemic’s first European wave, if nothing was done.

As European countries such as France, Germany and Belgium begin imposing a second lockdown amid surging caseloads, it looked inevitable that Johnson would have to follow.

WATCH | Europe renews COVID-19 lockdowns. Could Canada be next?:

Several European countries have instituted a second round of COVID-19 lockdowns after surges in cases, and experts say Canada may need to look at how places elsewhere in the world have handled outbreaks to avoid a similar fate. 2:00

Official figures announced Saturday recorded 21,915 new cases confirmed in the last 24 hours, bringing Britain’s total since the start of the pandemic to 1,011,660. Its official death toll from the coronavirus is 46,555, the highest in Europe, with 326 new deaths announced Saturday.

The United States, India, Brazil, Russia, France, Spain, Argentina and Colombia have also recorded more than one million cases, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Scientists say the true number of cases is much higher because not everyone with the virus is tested.

Any new lockdown will need Parliament’s approval, and a vote is scheduled for Wednesday. The new measures apply to England. Other parts of the U.K. set their own public health measures, with Wales and Northern Ireland already effectively in lockdown and Scotland under a set of tough regional restrictions.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Saturday that for now, people in Scotland should not travel to or from England, “except for essential purposes.”

Signage urging people to follow COVID-19 guidelines and a TV showing Johnson’s news conference are seen in a store in Bridgend, Wales, on Saturday. (Andrew Boyers/Reuters)

Throughout the pandemic, many British scientists and public health experts have accused Johnson of being too slow to act. London School of Hygiene epidemiologist John Edmunds, a member of the government’s scientific advisory group, said that even with the new lockdown, the country was facing “deaths in tens of thousands from this wave.”

Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said in response to the lockdown announcement, “There’s no denying these measures are necessary, and I’m glad that the government has finally taken the decision that it should have taken weeks ago.”

But Johnson is also under pressure from some members of his Conservative Party who oppose tighter restrictions because of the economic damage they would cause.

People congregate in central London on Saturday. (Alberto Pezzali/The Associated Press)

Owners of businesses that have struggled to get back on their feet since the first lockdown was eased said the impact of new closures would be devastating.

“People have borrowed up to the hilt and spent money in order to get COVID-secure,” said Kate Nicholls of pub and restaurant industry group Hospitality U.K. “There is no spare capacity in the tank to be able to fund a lockdown, even for three to four weeks.”

A government program that has paid the wages of millions of furloughed employees during the pandemic ends Saturday, replaced by less-generous measures that are likely to bring a surge in unemployment.

People walk past a poster by artist Hayden Kay criticizing the Conservative government’s pandemic response in London on Saturday. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

Johnson had planned to announce the lockdown in Parliament on Monday but was forced into early action after the Times of London reported the news. The government said there would be an investigation into the leak.

The prime minister said the government had to make “incredibly difficult” judgments during the pandemic. He said it was “a constant struggle and a balance that any government has to make between lives and livelihoods — and obviously lives must come first.”

England’s chief medical officer, Dr. Chris Whitty, said at the news conference that “there is basically no perfect time [to act], and there are no good solutions.”

“We’re trying to have the least bad set of solutions,” he said.

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Scientists find signs of waning antibody immunity to COVID-19 over time in England

Antibodies against the novel coronavirus declined rapidly in the population in England during the summer, according to a preprint posted on Tuesday, suggesting protection after infection may not be long-lasting and raising the prospect of waning immunity in the community.

Scientists at Imperial College London have tracked antibody levels in the population in England following the first wave of COVID-19 infections in March and April.

Their study found that antibody prevalence based on finger-prick tests of blood fell by a quarter, from six per cent of the population around the end of June to just 4.4 per cent in September. That raises the prospect of decreasing population immunity ahead of a second wave of infections in recent weeks that has forced local lockdowns and restrictions.

Although immunity to the novel coronavirus is a complex and murky area and may be assisted by T cells as well as B cells, which can stimulate the quick production of antibodies following re-exposure to the virus, the researchers said the experience of other coronaviruses suggested immunity might not be enduring.

“We can see the antibodies and we can see them declining and we know that antibodies on their own are quite protective,” Wendy Barclay, head of the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London, told reporters.

“On the balance of evidence I would say, with what we know for other coronaviruses, it would look as if immunity declines away at the same rate as antibodies decline away, and that this is an indication of waning immunity at the population level.”

University of Calgary microbiologist Craig Jenne, who was not involved in the research, said antibodies can start to fade in as little as eight weeks.

“People who get mildly sick, the body doesn’t seem to think it’s that severe, and we don’t put a lot of resources into overcoming [the infection],” Jenne said. “Unfortunately [in] those people, it looks like the immunity fades much quicker.”

Those for whom COVID-19 was confirmed with a gold standard PCR test had a less pronounced decline in antibodies, compared to people who had been asymptomatic and unaware of their original infection.

There was no change in the levels of antibodies seen in health-care workers, possibly due to repeated exposure to the virus.

Vaccine may be more protective

The study, which has not yet been peer reviewed to flag flaws, backs up findings from similar surveys in Germany. The German researchers found the vast majority of people didn’t have COVID-19 antibodies, even in hot spots for the disease, and that antibodies might fade in those who do.

WATCH | The limits of pursuing herd immunity:

A group of international experts push back against the Great Barrington Declaration and its pursuit of COVID-19 herd immunity, calling it “a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence.” 2:05

World Health Organization spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said that uncertainty over how long immunity would last, and the fact that most people had never had antibodies against the coronavirus in the first place, showed the need to break transmission chains.

“Acquiring this collective immunity just by letting the virus run through the population is not really an option,” he told a UN briefing in Geneva.

Imperial’s study was based on a survey of 365,000 randomly selected adults.

The rapid waning of antibodies did not necessarily have implications for the efficacy of vaccine candidates currently in clinical trials, Imperial’s Barclay said.

“A good vaccine may well be better than natural immunity,” she said.

Jen Gommerman, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto, is studying antibody levels in response to the spike protein of the coronavirus in the saliva of people who recovered from COVID-19.

“If we can make a good antibody response to the virus, we should be able to make a good antibody response to the vaccine, and that antibody response should be reasonably durable,” Gommerman said.

The caveat she said is that the data on how long the immune system’s antibody response lasts is limited to six months so far. 

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Canada Soccer cancels women’s national team camp in England due to COVID-19

On the advice of medical experts, Canada Soccer has cancelled a planned women’s national team camp this month in England.

Roster invitations were sent out, but then the trip was called off. The Canadian women, currently ranked eighth in the world, were to have played No. 6 England in their first get-together since a March tournament in France just prior to the lockdown.

“We listened to our federal public health officials and authorities, who offered us guidance,” said Canada Soccer general secretary Peter Montopoli. “And in the end, they were instructing us not to travel. We listened to them.”

Like other national sports bodies, the Canadian Soccer Association has taken a body blow because of COVID-19.

Revenue could be cut in half in 2020.

Montopoli is anticipating $ 12 million to $ 14 million less in revenue this year. The association’s normal operating budget features annual revenue of $ 22 million to $ 25 million, he said in an interview.

The drop has come from everything from the lack of recreational player dues to the loss of home international matches.

“It’s fair to say we’re going to be faced with some tough decisions the longer this goes, as any NSO [national sports organization],” Montopoli said.

“What competitions are we committing to? What programs are we committing to?” he added. “Certainly the priority for Canada Soccer moving forward … will be our senior teams, no doubt about it.”

Search for head coach continues

The association, which has a staff of 50 to 55, has not laid off any employees. Staff are officially working four days a week, with an accompanying reduction in pay, although they continue to work longer hours.

The association was able to take advantage of the Canadian Employee Wage Subsidy program. But it also had to use surplus funds saved over the last decade to help in times of crisis.

“We never wanted to use the surplus in that fashion, but that’s what it’s there for. So we’ve been lucky enough to keep everybody employed. I’m proud of that in these difficult times,” said Montopoli.

The search continues for a women’s head coach to succeed Kenneth Heiner-Moller, who has returned to his native Denmark. Montopoli says while the pandemic has complicated the talent hunt, Canada Soccer is close to filling the position.

“Sometimes [getting] the right person takes a little extra time,” he said.

While FIFA international match windows have been closing due to the pandemic, men’s coach John Herdman is still holding out hope he may be able to stage a camp in Europe in November for European-based players and in North America in January for domestic talent ahead of hoped-for World Cup qualifiers in March.

But the sands are ever shifting due to COVID.

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Prince Harry Shares One Thing He’s Been Missing From England After Moving to L.A.

Prince Harry Shares One Thing He’s Been Missing From England After Moving to L.A. | Entertainment Tonight

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England allows George Floyd justice messages by players in soccer matches

English Premier League players will be able to show solidarity with the George Floyd justice campaign during games without the prospect of facing sanctions.

The Football Association on Tuesday endorsed FIFA’s new stance that “common sense” would be applied when assessing the context of on-field messages on players’ equipment. The laws of the game prohibit “any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images.”

German soccer authorities said they may sanction players who used goal celebrations to highlight last week’s death in Minneapolis of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleaded for air.

But the English FA, which oversees disciplinary action for Premier League games, has given the green light for players using games to protest against social and racial inequality.

“Where any behaviours or gestures on the pitch that may constitute a breach of the laws of the game have to be assessed, they would be reviewed on a case by case basis with a common sense approach and understanding of their context,” the FA said in a statement when asked about players’ tributes to Floyd.

“The power of football can break down barriers across communities and we remain deeply committed to removing all forms of discrimination from across the game we all love.”

WATCH | German league players show support for George Floyd:

During Sunday’s Bundesliga action, Marcus Thuram takes a knee and Jadon Sancho unveils a shirt that says ‘Justice For George Floyd’. 0:40

The Premier League is due to resume on June 17.

Players from Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle have been pictured this week in training taking a knee as part of anti-racism gestures sparked by the death of Floyd.

The England team tweeted a close-up photo of Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling high-fiving alongside the message “whatever our nationality. Whatever our race. We’re all on the same team.”

An England men’s game had to be stopped twice last year in Bulgaria after players were subjected to racial abuse.

WATCH | Canadian athletes speak against racism:

Canadian athletes have been speaking out against racism and for change, including tennis youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime, basketball legend Steve Nash, and Olympians Kia Nurse, Karina LeBlanc and Perdita Felicien 2:38

The FA said it “strongly condemns discrimination of any kind and has endeavoured to ensure that football in England is both diverse and inclusive in recent years.”

England winger Jadon Sancho was booked while playing for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday for removing his jersey — a yellow-card offence — only so he could reveal a T-shirt with a Justice for George Floyd message.

Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho celebrates his goal by revealing a ‘Justice for George Floyd’ shirt during a match against Paderborn on Sunday. (Lars Baron/Getty Images)

That led to FIFA telling The Associated Press on Monday that national federations should apply “common sense and have in consideration the context surrounding the events.”

Hungarian league reprimands player for Floyd shirt

The Hungarian soccer federation has issued a written reprimand to a player of African origin who showed his undershirt with the words Justice for George Floyd after scoring a goal.

Tokmac Nguen was born in a refugee camp in Kenya to parents from South Sudan and grew up in Norway. He scored for Ferencvaros in its 1-1 draw with Puskas Akademia on Sunday.

The federation’s disciplinary committee said in a ruling issued Monday that any similar actions by Nguen in the future would result in “actual penalties” on each occasion.

Floyd died in Minneapolis after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving. Floyd’s death has sparked days of protests across the United States.

FIFA has urged soccer competition organizers to apply “common sense” and consider not sanctioning players demanding justice for Floyd during matches.

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England tiptoes out of lockdown as economy dives

England tentatively began easing its coronavirus lockdown on Wednesday with some people who cannot do their jobs at home urged to return to work, as stark economic data showed the disastrous impact of the pandemic.

The worst-hit country in Europe with more than 40,000 deaths from COVID-19 — including 275 health and care workers, according to official data — Britain has been in lockdown since March 23.

The government is loosening restrictions only gradually for fear of triggering a second peak of infections. As of Wednesday morning, people in manufacturing and certain other sectors were being asked to return to work if they could.

Answering questions in Parliament, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “very notable” that in some countries where lockdown guidelines had been relaxed, there were signs that the rate of contagion was rising again.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London Wednesday to attend Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons. (Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images)

“That is a very clear warning to us not to proceed too fast or too recklessly,” he said.

Johnson has described the process as a “supremely difficult” balancing act between public health and the economy.

Gross domestic product (GDP) data on Wednesday showed the economy shrank by a record 5.8 per cent in March from February, and the April data is likely to be even worse as the country was under lockdown for the entire month.

“We are seeing one (quarter of GDP contraction) here with only a few days of impact from the virus, so it is now, yes, very likely that the U.K. economy will face a significant recession this year, and we are in the middle of that as we speak,” Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said.

England goes alone

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have semi-autonomous governments, are sticking with a “stay at home” message for now, leaving England, the most populous U.K. nation, to take the lead in sending some people back to work.

Johnson has been criticized for confusing the public about what can and can’t be done safely. People have struggled to reconcile the advice to go to work with strong discouragement from using public transport, and with the lack of child care while schools remain closed.

Many have also asked why people were not allowed to let friends and relatives into their homes, but are now authorized to allow prospective homebuyers in to view their properties.

“All those who talk about confusion or mixed messages are grossly overstating the position,” Johnson said. “The common sense of the British people is shining through … They can see where we want to go, they can see where we need to go.”

In London, commuter trains appeared busier than in past weeks, though still very far from pre-pandemic overcrowding. Many people wore face masks, and made noticeable efforts to observe distancing.

A quiet Waterloo Station in London is seen in this photo taken today at 9 a.m. local time, as the country continues with most of its lockdown measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/The Associated Press)

At Stratford, a usually busy hub in east London, a one-way system for entering and exiting the station was in place, with loudspeakers telling passengers where to walk.

Road traffic into the city was steady, though also well below traditional rush hour levels. Digital information panels said: “Stay home, essential travel only, save lives.”

Government accused of giving mixed messages

Mayor Sadiq Khan posted a message on Twitter to tell Londoners not much had changed.

“Lockdown has not been lifted. Please keep social distancing and stay at home as much as possible,” he wrote. “If you have to make an essential journey by public transport, wear a non-medical face covering to protect others.”

The government has faced a barrage of criticism that its new guidance — “stay alert, control the virus, save lives” — was confusing and that people were being given mixed messages about how safe it was to have contact with others.

A commuter wearing a mask is seen at a London Underground station today. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

Appearing on Sky News TV, Transport Minister Grant Shapps was asked why estate agents were being allowed to resume house viewings when people could not have relatives to visit.

“The truth of the matter is, you have to start somewhere. The lockdown message was very straightforward — it was just stay at home. Now as we start to unlock, of course, there have to be decisions made,” Shapps said.

“There is no perfect way of doing this, and we’d ask people to use their common sense … Right now, there has to be a cut-off somewhere.”

Questions raised about new guidelines

Workers were being advised to avoid public transport if possible, and schools remained closed, prompting questions about how parents and people who could not get to work by other means should apply the new guidance.

A sign displays guidelines on a putting green at The Dyke Golf Club in Brighton on the south coast of England. The golf club reopened today with the easing of some lockdown restrictions. (Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)

Employers faced the daunting task of creating safe environments for staff, with detailed guidance on one-way systems at entry and exit points and in stairwells, spacing out workstations and other minutiae.

For those working from home or unable to work, there was little change. People were now allowed out to exercise more than once a day, and two people from separate households were allowed to meet outdoors if they kept two metres apart.

Fines for transgressions have been increased.

Anyone hoping to alleviate the tedium by planning a summer holiday would be taking a risk, Shapps told the BBC.

“Right now you can’t travel abroad. If you are booking it then you are clearly, by the very nature, taking a chance on where the direction of this virus goes and therefore where the travel advice is in the future,” he said.

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Tom Brady, 6-time Super Bowl champion, leaving New England Patriots

Tom Brady, the centrepiece of the New England Patriots’ championship dynasty over the past two decades, appears poised to leave the only football home he has ever had.

The 42-year-old six-time Super Bowl winner posted Tuesday on social media “my football journey will take place elsewhere.”

The comments were the first to indicate the most-decorated player in NFL history would leave New England.

In a two-part message, Brady thanked the Patriots and the fans and said “FOREVER A PATRIOT.”

“I don’t know what my football future holds, but it is time for me to open a new stage for my life and my career,” he wrote. “Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for out incredible TEAM experiences.”

The one-year contract Brad y signed before last season expires Wednesday afternoon, and his agent could negotiate a deal with another team on Tuesday, though it can’t be official yet. He actually could still work out a new deal with New England, but his Instagram post suggests that won’t happen.

Comments by Patriots owner Robert Kraft to ESPN make that clear, too. Kraft told ESPN that Brady reached out to him Monday night and went to the owner’s house.

“We had a positive, respectful discussion.” Kraft said. “It’s not the way I want it to end, but I want him to do what is in his best personal interest. After 20 years with us, he has earned that right. I love him like a son.

“Unfortunately, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement to allow that dream to become a reality. While sad today, the overwhelming feeling I have is appreciation for his countless contributions to our team and community.”

Brady and Patriots owner Robert Kraft embrace after winning the 2018 AFC championship. (The Associated Press)

A four-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player and three-time league MVP, Brady has been the enduring face of the Patriots during a run that added another layer to Boston’s already rich sports history. Only Bill Russell, who won 11 NBA championship rings in the 1950s and 60s with the Celtics, has won more titles as a member of one of New England’s four major professional sports teams.

Will be 43 when season starts

Brady would be the oldest starting quarterback in the league at 43 at the beginning of next season. He is also arguably coming off his worst non-injury season. He threw for 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2019, with eight interceptions. But he completed fewer than 56 per cent of his passes six times in the final eight games of the year, including a season-ending loss to Miami that cost the Patriots a first-round playoff bye.

They lost at home to the Titans in the wild-card round, Brady’s earliest post-season exit in a decade — and likely his last game in a Patriots uniform.

Brady had a one-year contract for 2019 that paid him $ 23 million, placing him 10th among starting quarterbacks. It was the latest renegotiation by Brady to help give the Patriots salary cap flexibility to fill out the roster.

The chief decision maker in player personnel decisions, Patriots coach Bill Belichick hasn’t been shy about moving on from players he felt were past their prime or seeking contracts that exceeded value in relation to their age. Belichick has severed ties with players much younger than Brady during his time in New England.

“Nothing about the end of Tom’s Patriots career changes how unfathomably spectacular it was,” said Belichick, whose current quarterback is untested second-year player Jarrett Stidham. “With his relentless competitiveness and longevity, he earned everyone’s adoration and will be celebrated forever. It has been a privilege to coach Tom Brady for 20 years.”

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