Football, tennis celebrities donate big amounts to coronavirus battle

This combination photo shows, from left, soccer stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who have each donated 1 million euros ($1.08 million) to help with the battle against the new coronavirus. (AP Photo)
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Updated 26 March 2020

Football, tennis celebrities donate big amounts to coronavirus battle

  • Messi and Guardiola donated 1 million euros each; Ronaldo donated lifesaving equipment
  • Former tennis world No. 1 Federer and his wife donated 1 million Swiss Francs

MADRID: Roger Federer, Lionel Messi, Pep Guardiola and Cristiano Ronaldo on Wednesday poured in their support for the battle against the coronavirus as the death toll in Europe jumped further.
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola started the ball rolling by each donating one million euros ($1.08 million).
Argentina international Messi’s donation will be split between Hospital Clinic in Barcelona and another medical center in his home country, according to a report in Marca.
“Leo Messi made a donation to the clinic to fight the coronavirus,” Hospital Clinic wrote on Twitter. “Thank you very much, Leo, for your commitment and your support.”
Former Barcelona player and manager Guardiola made his contribution to a campaign launched by the Angel Soler Daniel Foundation and Medical College of Barcelona.
“Pep Guardiola has made a donation of one million euros to the Angel Soler Daniel Foundation for the acquisition and supply of health equipment to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic,” said a statement from the College.
“The donation campaign promoted by the Medical College of Barcelona and managed through the Angel Soler Daniel Foundation aims to collect medical materials and financial contributions from collegiate doctors and the general population, for the purchase of medical equipment and equipment that is currently lacking in health centers in Catalonia.
“It will also help finance the alternative production, through 3D printing and other methods, of respirators and personal protection equipment for health care staff.”
Before Guardiola made his donation, the campaign had raised 33,000 euros in three days.
Portugal and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes also came together to donate lifesaving equipment to Portuguese hospitals.




Swiss tennis champion Roger Federer and his wife Mirka have donated 1 million of Swiss francs "for the most vulnerable families in Switzerland" and have called on others on March 25, 2020 to add their support. (AFP / Johannes Eisele)


Federer's donation
Tennis superstar Federer of Switzerland and his wife donated one million Swiss Francs ($1.02 million) to vulnerable families in his native Switzerland.
"These are challenging times for everyone and nobody should be left behind," Federer wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.
"Mirka and I have personally decided to donate one million Swiss Francs for the most vulnerable families in Switzerland."
Globally, more than 420,700 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus and 18,820 have died, according to a Reuters tally. Switzerland has nearly 9,900 confirmed cases with 122 deaths.
"Our contribution is just a start," Federer added. "We hope that others might join in supporting more families in need. Together we can overcome this crisis."
Federer, a 20-times Grand Slam winner, is currently recovering from a knee surgery he underwent last month and was targeting a return in June in time for Wimbledon.
The tennis season is, however, suspended until June 7 due to the pandemic.
"These are challenging times for everyone and nobody should be left behind," Federer wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.
Spain is the country worst affected by the disease in Europe outside of Italy, with 2,696 deaths and almost 40,000 positive cases.
The region of Catalonia, where Guardiola is from and where Messi has lived since joining Barca aged 13, is one of the worst-affected parts of the country.
Switzerland has nearly 9,900 confirmed cases with 122 deaths.
Globally, more than 420,700 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus and 18,820 have died, according to a Reuters tally.


‘Fight Island’ concept debuts in Abu Dhabi on Sunday

Updated 11 July 2020

‘Fight Island’ concept debuts in Abu Dhabi on Sunday

  • Plan to be unveiled on Sunday with the staging of the 13-fight UFC 251 event on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island

DUBAI: When mixed martial arts supremo Dana White first floated his “Fight Island” concept, with its echoes of the Bruce Lee blockbuster “Enter the Dragon” where fighters were drawn into combat at a private getaway, eyebrows were raised.

“‘Fight Island’ is real. It’s a real thing,” said the Ultimate Fighting Championship boss when he announced the plan in April. “The infrastructure’s being built right now, and that’s really going to happen.”

White’s vision will be unveiled on Sunday with the staging of the 13-fight UFC 251 event on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island.

The event will be headlined by a welterweight world title encounter between the Nigerian-American champion Kamaru Usman and Cuban-American challenger Jorge Masvidal.

It’s one of four “Fight Island” cards to be staged without an audience inside an arena on the resort and entertainment island throughout July, kicking off with three world title bouts and a title challenge eliminator.

Usman said during a virtual media event that he had been impressed by what he’d seen since arriving in the UAE on Thursday.

“I’m grateful for everything that’s been done,” said Usman, gunning for the second defense of his title. “All the precautions have been taken. After I go out there on Saturday and get my hand raised I’ll be glad to be heading home COVID-free.”

The UFC has made the move to Abu Dhabi from its Las Vegas base in an effort to isolate its fighters during the coronavirus pandemic.

Safety has been a major motivator, as has the promoter’s need to keep staging events — and collecting revenue — during a crisis that has shut down or forced massive overhauls to the staging of the world’s major sporting events.

Strict lockdown measures have been imposed on athletes, their entourages, officials, staff and media for the duration of their stay on Yas Island, on a site that has been completely sealed off until the event concludes on July 26.

Tests were taken before people arrived — initial headliner Gilbert Burns of Brazil failed, and stayed home, Masvidal’s coach Mike Brown suffered the same fate — and after landing there has been more testing, and 48 hours in-room quarantine.

“We were able to lock away with some mats and pads in our room and keep training as much as we could,” said Russian welterweight Muslim Salikhov, who fights Brazil’s Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos in Sunday’s preliminaries.

“The main thing everyone is saying is that we are here, and we are ready to fight because that’s what we do for a living.”

Abu Dhabi’s executive director of tourism and marketing, Ali Al-Shaiba, said protocols were stringent in the expansive “safe zone,” patrolled by police and expected to house around 2,000 people for the duration of the month-long event. Staff will be tested every 72 hours.