A German club's supporters are planning to replace real-life fans with plastic ones when the Bundesliga resumes — and raise some money for a child's medical treatment in the process.
Borussia Mönchengladbach supporters have come up with a novel way to support their team, even though they probably won't be allowed to attend games for a while longer because of the coronavirus outbreak.
One Gladbach supporters group is giving members the chance to create life-size plastic figures that will be placed in the stadium in their places when — and if — the Bundesliga is able to complete its season.
"We don't have any concrete expectations but it should be a couple of thousand fans anyway," the FPMG club's liaison officer Thomas "Tower" Weinmann told The Associated Press.
For 19 euros ($21) each supporter can have their portrait taken and reprinted on hard weatherproof plastic cutouts. From each sale, 2 euros ($2.20) will go toward a fundraising campaign for a boy named Ben to receive treatment for spinal muscular atrophy. Another portion of the money raised will go toward supporting seven workers in the fan club whose jobs are under threat with no soccer being played.
"The rest is pure manufacturing and processing costs. With this we're also helping two small companies in Mönchengladbach that had to close their shops," FPMG says on its website. "So no profit will be made, and when the 'war is won' and we can all go back to the stadium, everyone can take their portrait in plastic as a souvenir of a memorable time."
Karim Benzema made an unflattering comment about fellow forward Olivier Giroud, comparing himself to a Formula One car and his former France teammate to a go-kart.
Benzema has nearly 250 goals for Real Madrid and won four Champions League titles. He was holding a live chat session on his Instagram account on Sunday when someone asked him if Giroud, who has more than 200 goals in his entire professional career and won four FA Cups, was better than him.
"I'm going to respond to you and all of those who are watching, it won't take long. It won't take long, guys," Benzema replied. "You can't confuse F1 with karting ... and I'm being kind."
Benzema added: "I'm the F1. I'm talking in footballing terms." He conceded Giroud's work ethic helps France's other regular forwards Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé.
Benzema stood by his comments in another video posted on his Instagram account on Monday.
"I told the truth, quite simply. But people didn't retain when I spoke about what he brings to the France team," the 32-year-old Benzema said. "People just remembered when I said I was F1 and he was karting. That's what I think."
Justifying himself further, Benzema placed himself below Cristiano Ronaldo — his former Madrid teammate who is at Juventus — in the same way.
"R9 (Ronaldo wore the No. 9 jersey in his first season with Madrid) is Formula One and I am karting," Benzema said. "That's the way it is."
Several years ago, Benzema lost his place in the France side in the wake of his alleged involvement in an extortion scam over a sex tape involving then-France teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
He has not played for Les Bleus since scoring twice in a 4-0 home win against Armenia in October 2015, taking his tally to 27 goals in 81 internationals. He lined up alongside Valbuena in that match.
After Benzema was dropped by Didier Deschamps, Giroud settled into the France side as its center forward. He helped France reach the European Championship final in 2016 and to win the World Cup in 2018, although he received some criticism for not scoring in that competition.
The 33-year-old Giroud needs two goals to tie Michel Platini on France's scoring list with 41, with only Thierry Henry ahead of them on 51.
At club level, Benzema's achievements tower over Giroud's modest success with Montpellier in France, and then Arsenal and Chelsea in England.
Benzema has won six league titles and three national cups with Lyon and Madrid, and four Club World Cups on the back of Madrid's Champions League victories.
He has netted 332 goals in 669 games, and his 64 Champions League goals are fourth all-time behind Raúl González, Lionel Messi and Ronaldo.
Giroud's club tally is 217 in 540. He won one league title with Montpellier, four FA Cups and the Europa League with Chelsea in 2019, finishing as the latter competition's leading scorer.
The hard-working Giroud has a moderately good English Premier League return of 80 goals in 229 games, but has always been well appreciated by fans for his team play.
Cristiano Ronaldo and his Juventus teammates along with coach Maurizio Sarri agreed to forgo 90 million euros ($100 million) in wages on Saturday to help the club during the coronavirus crisis.
The club said the money amounted to four months worth of wages, a third of players' salaries.
The first agreement of its kind in Serie A since play was halted three weeks ago means Ronaldo, the highest-paid player in the Italian league, will give up 10 million euros (more than $11 million).
Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini, who has an economics degree, led the negotiations with the club and fellow players.
"Should the current season's matches be rescheduled, the club will negotiate in good faith with the players and the coach conditional increases of compensations according to the actual resumption and finalization of official competitions," Juventus said.
Aiming for a record-extending ninth straight Serie A title, Juventus leads the standings by one point from Lazio.
"Juventus would like to thank the players and the coach for their commitment at a difficult time for everyone," the club concluded.
All sports in Italy have been suspended under a nationwide lockdown through April 3 but health experts have said the need to try to contain the COVID-19 will likely last weeks beyond that. League officials have discussed resuming Serie A in May.
Three Juventus players -- Daniele Rugani, Blaise Matuidi and Paulo Dybala -- have tested positive for COVID-19.
Overall, Italy has nearly 100,000 positive cases and days ago surpassed the total of China, where the outbreak began in early 2020.
Earlier this month, the Agnelli family that controls Juventus donated 10 million euros in relief funds to Italy's civil protection agency.
The much-talked about election of Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF), scheduled for April 20, has been postponed for indefinite period due to outbreak of deadly Coronavirus in the country and elsewhere in the world.
The Executive Committee of Bangladesh Football Federation on Friday (March 27) has decided to postpone the ‘BFF Election and Congress 2020’ due on April 20, 2020 unless the situation becomes normal and at the same time they will communicate the issue with FIFA and AFC for making necessary ratification.
The BFF took the decision as the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 a pandemic and the government of Bangladesh imposed a nationwide lockdown from March 26 to April 4, 2020 to curb the spread of the novel corona virus. Besides, any kind of public gathering is also banned at the moment in Bangladesh..
However, the BFF will inform latest development about the matter from time to time. Earlier on March 24, the Professional Football League Committee (PFLC) of Bangladesh Football Federation postponed all the football leagues including the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Football, for indefinite period due to outbreak of the Coronavirus in the country.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Football Federation distributed food among the poor people on Friday (March 27) from BFF house due to lockdown situation for COVID 19 in Bangladesh. BFF will continue the program until lock down situation ends.
All the football leagues, including ongoing Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) football, under the Professional Football League Committee (PFLC) of Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) have been postponed for an indefinite period due to the outbreak of deadly coronavirus in the country.
The decision was taken at an emergency meeting of PFLC held on Tuesday (March 24) at the BFF board room with committee chairman Abdus Salam Murshedy, MP, in the chair.
The committee will take their next decision in this regard when the situation improves.