Legal row as A-League club sidelines players after shutdown

PERTH - Australia’s footballers’ union Saturday threatened legal action against A-League club Perth Glory after players were stood down without pay as the coronavirus shutdown takes its toll. Despite holding out to be one of the last competitions in the world still going, the plug was finally pulled on the 11-team domestic soccer league this week. Football Federation Australia plans to review the suspension on April 22 and most clubs appear to be waiting until then to decide what to do. But with no revenue from ticket sales, Perth Glory owner Tony Sage made the “heartbreaking” decision to stand down the squad, effectively keeping them on the books but without pay. “I can’t remember sadder days except when my mum died and my brother died. It’s heartbreaking. Very, very sad,” he told the West Australian newspaper, adding that he expected other clubs to follow suit. But Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) was not impressed, demanding their immediate reinstatement and threatening legal action under the country’s Fair Work Act if the club does not comply. “The players acknowledge that everybody in Australia is facing a collective challenge as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” PFA chief John Didulica said in a statement. “The PFA continues to call for a collective solution to address our game’s challenges, as has been the approach adopted by... sporting bodies around the world. “However, Tony has shown his preference for unilateral, reckless and unlawful action.” Didulica warned any other clubs considering similar moves would also face legal action. Football is not alone working through the financial fallout of the pandemic, which has shut down sports worldwide.

Former Liga winger dons white coat to take on coronavirus

CORUNNA - Journeyman footballer Toni Dovale put his football boots to one side and slipped into a pharmacist’s white coat in the front line struggle against coronavirus in Spain. The 29-year-old pharmacy graduate and former top-level sportsman had been playing football for a Thai club, but was visiting his family in Spain when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. So he decided to pitch in his ‘grain of sand’ against the virus using the studies which he had yet to put into practice due to his passion for football. “I really was packing my bags to go back when things got complicated,” Dovale said. Travel restrictions trapped Dovale in his native La Coruna in the Atlantic coast region of Galicia, where he started his football career with nearby Celta Vigo. Although Dovale also completed his university studies in pharmacy four years ago, he had never actually worked in the field. Now with the world of sport in limbo the footballer realised the time was ripe to use his studies to help his homeland.

“I was playing in Asia then; pharmacy is different there and I was never in Spain long enough to work,” he says, “With football stopped and travel banned I said to myself ‘get some practical experience and do your bit’.”