Will Returning Players Be Out of Shape? Soccer May Need More Subs

Will Returning Players Be Out of Shape? Soccer May Need More Subs

Will Returning Players Be Out of Shape? Soccer May Need More Subs

Will Returning Players Be Out of Shape? Soccer May Need More Subs

When sports do come back, leagues will be trying to pack in as many revenue-generating games as possible. At the same time, many of the players coming out of quarantine may not exactly be in tiptop shape. That combination could prove troublesome.

International soccer has proposed a solution: allowing five substitutions a game instead of three. FIFA, the governing body, is suggesting the plan, which would apply through all of next season and through the end of 2021 in international play. A sixth substitute would be allowed in games that go to extra time.

The move follows a longtime trend in soccer, which did not allow substitutes at all until 1958. If your team’s fullback broke his leg, he either had to suck it up and continue or the team had to play with 10 men. The 1970 World Cup was the first with substitutes, and three subs were not allowed until the 1998 World Cup.

The strict rules led to storied performances such as Franz Beckenbauer playing on in the 1970 World Cup semifinal with his dislocated arm in a sling and Bert Trautmann playing most of the 1956 F.A. Cup final with a broken neck. Those are scenes that FIFA surely doesn’t want coming out of this pandemic.

Horse racing continues in at least some states, and some big races are running as scheduled. On Saturday, Oaklawn will hold the Arkansas Derby. And then it will hold it again.

With limited opportunities for horses to race, it has been difficult to distinguish the very best runners from the merely good. That means there are dozens of horses whose owners still feel they have a Derby-quality horse.

To give as many horses a chance as possible, Oaklawn will run two Arkansas Derbys, with 11 horses in each field. Both races will have the full $500,000 purse, and both will offer full qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, now scheduled for Sept. 5.

Among those in the races are the Louisiana Derby winner, Wells Bayou; the Tampa Bay Derby winner, King Guillermo; and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, Storm the Court.

It’s the first time the Arkansas Derby, which has been run since the 1930s, has been divided into two races. As has been the case since mid-March, there will be no fans at Oaklawn, in Hot Springs, Ark., for the races.

Professional Bull Riders held an event in Oklahoma over the weekend, making it one of the first sports to resume in the United States.

The Unleash the Beast event was held without fans at the Lazy E Arena, a private ranch in Logan County, Okla. It was originally scheduled to be in Las Vegas.

Everyone on site was required to wear face masks and to maintain social distancing. People were also instructed to interact only with people in their designated group, which averaged about six people.

“We’ve had plenty of space to be safe and responsible as we get our P.B.R. family back to work,” Sean Gleason, the chief executive of Professional Bull Riders, said in a video shared on his Twitter account. “Hopefully our process will pave the way for other sports.”

Fabiano Vieira of Brazil won the two-day event. DANIELLE ALLENTUCK

Formula One refuses to rip off the Band-Aid. Almost every week, it cancels another race and inches back the date of its return. This week’s cancellation is the French Grand Prix, scheduled for June 28. It becomes the 10th race of the season to be postponed or canceled. F1 now insists that it will be back in action the week after that, in Austria.

On the brighter side, some leagues are revving up for a return. Teams in Italy’s top soccer league are being allowed to start training on May 18. The announcement was important enough to be made by the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte.

Australia and New Zealand have been praised for their success in containing the virus, and sports are benefiting. The National Rugby League is looking to return May 28, and is clearing hurdles one by one. Players from the one New Zealand-based team in the league, the Warriors, have received permission to travel to Australia, the government said. And strict rules are being put in place, including requiring temperature checks, cleaning all equipment daily and barring players and staff from using public transportation or cabs.

Fines have been promised for violators, of which there may be some, if recent history is a guide. Three N.R.L. players were fined $1,000 by the police in Australia on Monday after being pictured camping with a group of about a dozen people, in violation of social distancing rules.

And the Navy-Notre Dame football game in Dublin on Aug. 29 is still on, despite rules against gatherings of 5,000 or more in Ireland through the end of August. The ban does not apply to sports, Navy’s athletic director, Chet Gladchuk, told The Capital Gazette.




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