As the weekend’s football comes to a close, the next seven days are likely to be interesting, as the Champions League and Europa League knockout rounds continue in earnest before the return of league action.
Ahead of the midweek action, there has been plenty going on in the footballing world.
Here, we take a look at three of the biggest stories to emerge so far this week…
The English FA, along with the Scottish and Irish equivalents, have banned heading for children under the age of 12, it has been confirmed. This comes after research which says that former players are three times more likely to die from a brain disease than those who did not play the game professionally.
Whilst heading the ball in training will be limited, there will be no such measures in competitive games for any age group. Mark Bullingham, the FA’s new chief executive, explained following the decision: “This updated heading guidance is an evolution of our current guidelines and will help coaches and teachers to reduce and remove repetitive and unnecessary heading from youth football.”
However, although this is a step in the right direction in the fight against brain injuries for footballers, some believe it is not far enough. Peter McCabe, the chief executive of Headway, said: “It seems entirely sensible to limit the number of times children are allowed to head footballs. The question is, is this enough? Should it be limited to children? We cannot allow for key questions to remain unanswered, such as at what age is it safe to head a football – if at all?”
It remains to be seen whether any regulations are brought in for older players.
Coronavirus has caused havoc across the world in recent weeks, and it seems it has now touched football as well. Last weekend, four Serie A games were cancelled due to the worldwide illness and, whilst Internazionale’s fixture against Ludogorets in the Europa League won’t be postponed, it will be played behind closed doors, per BBC Sport.
After a meeting of league officials on Monday, Italian football federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina said: “For our Serie A championship we have planned for and asked to play the games behind closed doors. That could happen as early as Sunday.”
Italy is the European country that has been the most affected by the virus, which originates from Wuhan in Hubei Province, China. So far, 165 cases have been confirmed. As the disease continues to travel across the planet, the footballing calendar could well continue to be affected not just in Italy, but across the continent.
Kylian Mbappe has long been a transfer target for Real Madrid, but any move has yet to materialise as he continues to ply his trade at the Parc des Princes with PSG. Los Merengues are not the only side to be linked with the 2018 World Cup winner – Liverpool are also said to be interested in the 21-year-old.
However, The Sun is now reporting that Zinedine Zidane and co could turn to Erling Haaland. The club’s bosses are said to be considering a move for the Norway international after his scintillating form in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund.
He only made the switch to the Westfalenstadion in January, but he has hit the ground running – after scoring at the weekend against Werder Bremen, he became the first player to score nine goals in his first six matches in the German top flight, whilst he also netted in the DFB Pokal.
In the Champions League, he scored both of his side’s goals against PSG in a 2-1 victory last week.