Soccer-Czech league could restart after shutdown from June 8

Professional football in the Czech Republic could return from June 8 after being suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, although fans will not be able to attend matches, the country’s health minister said on Tuesday.

The government will allow stores and restaurants to reopen gradually over the next two months to reawaken an economy paralyzed by the health crisis, which has brought global sport to a virtual standstill.

Under the plan, which depends on the epidemic not spiking back up, theaters and other cultural and sporting venues for up to 50 people would reopen on June 8.

Before that, professional athletes will be able to return to collective training sessions outdoors, in small groups and under strict conditions, from April 20.

“If all goes well, then I think it realistic to have standard matches played as of June 8, with some technical background… I think matches without spectators could be played,” Health Minister Adam Vojtech told a news conference.

The League Football Association (LFA), which manages the two top-tier competitions, is seeking to complete the season.

With six matches remaining of the regular season, holders Slavia Prague have an eight-point lead over Viktoria Plzen.

“Nothing has changed for us at the moment. We will continue to do the maximum so that this season can be completed on the pitch,” LFA chairman Dusan Svoboda said in a statement on the association’s website.

(Reporting by Robert Muller Editing by Toby Davis)

Here’s What It’s Like to Do a 3,000-Mile Road Trip in a McLaren F1

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be behind the wheel of a real-life unicorn? More specifically, a true enthusiast car made of authentic unobtanium. I’m sure we all have, and living vicariously through those with the ability to afford rarities like the McLaren F1 makes it even easier. Today, we’ll get to do exactly that.

It all starts with popular auto YouTuber James Walker—otherwise known as Mr JWW—who gives the world a rare look into the life of a supercar owner. Walker, along with several friends, documented their 3,000-mile trek across Europe in a nearly $20 million McLaren F1 and made it available online for everyone to see.

The entire 75-minute long video takes clips of the journey, which was completed back in 2017, and splices them together with Walker’s commentary on the expedition. And while a trip to high-end car shows and lavish lifestyle experiences are fun to see, we mostly enjoy the look inside the rare car that’s largely regarded as the greatest automobile ever created.

While most people who can identify a McLaren F1 are familiar with the car’s center driver seating position, most haven’t actually seen someone ride shotgun. Walker and his pals do just this, stuffing a driver, passenger, and luggage inside the cockpit of the McLaren.

Walker calls the experience as a passenger “cozy,” which is surely an understatement. Meanwhile, the driver’s view of the car’s rear is obscured by the McLaren’s high-pressure, roof-mounted intake, which designer Gordon Murray worked up with engineers to filter out water and debris as to not flood the engine. The solution? Dual rear-view mirrors mounted to the left and right side of the windshield.

It might seem weird to specifically mention the luggage being stored in the car’s interior, but that’s because the F1 really doesn’t have that much storage space elsewhere, and the cache it does haven is curated for small McLaren-specific totes.

And of course, it would be illegal for me to talk about the McLaren and not mention the 618-horsepower, naturally aspirated, 6.1-liter V-12 sitting amidships. Throughout the video, you get wonderful glimpses under the rear bonnet and experience the symphony produced by roaring individual throttle bodies.

During the engine bay tour, take note of the gold-coated reflective heat shield affixed to nearly every body panel. McLaren took note of the heat in the engine bay and worked to dissipate and reflect where needed. The automaker even used early versions of active aerodynamics which not only acted as an airbrake for the car but also redirected airflow into the engine bay and down to the rear brakes for cooling.

Walker’s journey ends at the McLaren F1 25th Anniversary Tour in Bordeaux, France where he gathered with a number of other F1s to commemorate the platform’s quarter-century birthday, including the now-restored car previously owned and crashed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

It’s hard not to love the McLaren F1—it’s one of the last truly analog supercars built in the 20th Century and everything from the styling to the gauge cluster’s green glow screams ’90s-era rad. Since most of us will never get the chance to sit in the driver (or passenger) seat, this close-up look will have to do.

How the Ravens can have a perfect 2020 NFL Draft, starting with finding new weapons for Lamar Jackson

While they don’t have many roster holes, the Baltimore Ravens, fresh off of a 14-2 regular season, are hoping the upcoming draft will provide the missing pieces to their championship puzzle. They are also hoping to put their recent playoff disappointments behind them after losing at home during the last two postseasons. No one is hoping to avenge the Ravens’ recent playoff losses more than Lamar Jackson, whose 0-2 postseason record continues to be held against him despite last season’s MVP campaign. 

With the start of the 2020 NFL Draft just around the corner, here’s a look at the four things the Ravens should do during the draft to increase their odds at representing the AFC in Super Bowl LV. 

1. Double-dip at WR for Lamar Jackson

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta recently alluded to the depth of the receivers in the 2020 NFL draft, stating that the Ravens could potentially find a starter at that position in the fifth round. For those of you who follow the draft closely, that shouldn’t come as a surprise — this might be the most loaded wide receiver class ever. But that doesn’t mean that the Ravens won’t use their first-round pick on a receiver, something they did last season when they acquired Marquise Brown with the 25th overall pick. 

With the 28th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Baltimore should take the best available receiver still on the board. That may very well be LSU’s Justin Jefferson, who caught 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns last season while helping the Tigers capture a national championship. Jefferson would be a perfect addition to a Ravens offense that desperately needs another receiver alongside Brown, who led Baltimore’s receivers with 46 receptions for 584 yards and seven touchdowns last season. 

If DeCosta and the Ravens choose to wait until Day 3 to address the receiver position, there will still be some good options available. In his full seven-round mock draft, CBS draft analyst Chris Trapasso has the Ravens selecting Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson in the fifth-round and Virginia’s Joe Reed in the seventh round. Johnson, one of the more underrated players in the draft, caught 25 touchdowns while averaging over 15 yards per catch during his final two seasons with the Gophers. Reed, who caught 16 passes during his final three years with the Cavaliers, was a prolific special teams player at Virginia, returning five kickoffs for touchdowns while averaging 28.7 yards per return. 

2. Draft Mosley’s replacement

Baltimore still needs to fill the void left by linebacker C.J. Mosley’s departure during the 2019 offseason. If the Ravens pass on selecting a receiver in the first round, they would well-served spending the pick on an inside linebacker. While Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons will be long gone by the time the Ravens are on the clock, the draft’s other top inside linebackers, LSU’s Patrick Queen and/or Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray could be available with the 28th overall pick. Queen, who has drawn comparisons to Kwon Alexander and Thomas Davis, racked up 12 tackles for loss during his final season with the Tigers. Murray, who has also drawn comparisons to Alexander as well as Rashaan Evans, filled the stat sheet during his three years at Oklahoma, recording 325 tackles, 36.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and six passes defensed. 

While Queen and Murray ranked higher, the Ravens should strongly consider drafting Wisconsin’s Zack Baun, who put up video game numbers during his final season Madison. In 2019, the 6-foot-3, 253-pound Baun tallied 12.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and an interception return for a touchdown while earning All-American and First Team All-Big 10 honors. His skill set seems like a perfect fit for the Ravens’ defensive blueprint — one that hasn’t changed much in recent years.

All three players would fill a significant need for the Ravens, whose lack of talent at inside linebacker was exposed by Derrick Henry and company during the Titans‘ upset win over Baltimore in the second round of the playoffs. 

3. Find a formidable EDGE they can develop

The Ravens will surely draft an edge rusher after finishing just 21st in the NFL in sacks last season. Fortunately for them, the 2020 draft is full of promising edge rushers, particularly in rounds 2-4. Ideal second-round options include Michigan’s Josh Uche and Boise State’s Curtis Weaver. Uche tallied 7.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss last fall, while Weaver recorded 13.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in 2019. 

Possible third-round options for the Ravens at edge rusher include Tennessee’s Darrell Taylor, Utah’s Bradlee Anae, and Notre Dame’s Khalid Kareem. Fourth round options include Charlotte’s Alex Highsmith, Syracuse’s Alton Robinson and Michigan State’s Kenny Willekes. Willekes tallied 23.5 sacks during his final three seasons with the Spartans, while Highsmith recorded 15 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in 2019. While his numbers weren’t the best in 2019, Robinson did leave Syracuse with 19 career sacks, five forced fumbles and 32 tackles for loss. 

4. Replenish the depth on the O-line 

With Marshal Yanda’s retirement and Matt Skura coming off a major knee injury sustained in Week 12 of the 2019 season, the Ravens will likely spend at least two picks on their offensive line during the draft. While the Ravens could spend a high pick on a lineman (Michigan’s center Cesar Ruiz would be a good first-round option), they will likely address their line during the second and third days of the draft. Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz could be a good option for the Ravens with the 60th overall pick. If they choose to address the interior part of their offensive line on Day 3, Baltimore should consider Louisiana’s Kevin Dotson, a 2019 All-American who made over 50 starts during his college career. 

Baltimore is also in need of a swing tackle, with James Hurst suspended for the first quarter of the 2020 season. An ideal Day 3 option here is Kansas State’s Scott Frantz, a Second Team All-Big 12 performer in 2019 who made 51 starts during his time with the Wildcats. Frantz was a big reason why Kansas State averaged over 180 rushing yards per game during his last two seasons. 

Floyd Mayweather and FuboTV partner for virtual boxing venture

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FaceBank to develop digital likeness for fights streamed on DTC platform.

Floyd Mayweather and FuboTV partner for virtual boxing venture

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Direct-to-consumer (DTC) media company FuboTV and Floyd Mayweather have announced a ground-breaking joint venture to create and manage the boxing legend’s digital likeness.

Coming in the wake of FuboTV’s takeover by virtual reality company FaceBank, the partnership was agreed with Mayweather’s ONE Entertainment Group representatives to protect and exploit the brand name and likeness of ‘Virtual Mayweather’ for multiple multimedia opportunities.

One of the projects that the companies intend to develop is virtual boxing matchups pitting Mayweather’s digital likeness against other boxing legends and icons. The real-time simulations will feature results based on data modelling to create virtual fights exclusively broadcast on FuboTV’s live streaming platform and yet to be announced pay-per-view (PPV) partners.

FaceBank will work with Mayweather to research, capture and analyse photographic, filmed and mathematical representations of his face and body to develop a comprehensive and hyper-realistic, computer-generated ‘digital likeness’ for global and commercial applications. The company expects to announce similar agreements with other sports icons in the coming weeks.

“My team has always been the past, present and future of sports and entertainment,” said Mayweather. “Now, together with FaceBank, FuboTV and ONE Entertainment, I am continuing that trend.”

David Gandler, FuboTV chief executive, added: “Just last week, FuboTV and FaceBank closed our merger. With FaceBank’s tech-driven IP in sports, movies and live performances, and FuboTV’s direct-to-consumer live TV streaming platform for cord-cutters, we’re already making strides towards building the kind of digital entertainment company we envisioned.”

Gandler continued: “Our joint venture with Floyd Mayweather and ONE Entertainment makes possible a few of the greatest fights of all time that never happened, that could have never happened, until now. 

“Undefeated in the ring after so many years, Mayweather can now step up to compete in the hyper-realistic world of virtual competition, challenging the legends of boxing in hyper-real simulated boxing matches with outcomes that will be as surprising to the fighters as to a live global audience.”

FaceBank founder, John Textor, said: “If you think this is a video game, you’re wrong. This won’t look like anything you’ve ever seen on Xbox even in 4K. Our virtual championship boxing will showcase the talents and technology of the visual effects community, combined with the most respected of the military simulation community. Our aim is to build a visually stunning, championship-caliber bout that positively impacts the future of fight entertainment.”

Senior British Open golf tournament postponed

The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:

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The Senior British Open golf tournament has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The event was scheduled to take place at Sunningdale from July 23-26.

R&A official Johnnie Cole-Hamilton says organizers are looking at alternative options to host the tournament “later in the year if at all possible.”

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UEFA says it will host another round of calls next week for European soccer leaders to address the shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The UEFA executive committee is set to join by video link on April 23. It will follow separate days of calls with UEFA’s 55 member federations and club soccer officials.

UEFA is giving priority to completing national league and cup competitions. One contingency plan is for games to continue into July and August and decide entries for the Champions League and Europa League next season.

This season’s Champions League and Europa League could resume once domestic titles are decided.

The UEFA executive committee last month postponed the European Championship by one year to 2021. Other games affected include World Cup qualifying groups, the 2021 Nations League finals and the women’s Euro 2021 tournament in England.

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The Asian Football Confederation says it has postponed “all matches and competitions scheduled to take place in May and June until further notice.”

Most of the 32 Asian Champions League teams played two group games in February before the coronavirus outbreak caused a shutdown.

The AFC says it “will explore all possible options in order to complete” those groups.

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The first women’s professional golf tournament in Saudi Arabia has found new dates in October.

The inaugural Saudi Ladies International on the Ladies European Tour was to be played last month but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The $1 million event will now be played from Oct. 8-11 at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club at King Abdullah Economic City.

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The Tour de France won’t begin as originally planned because French President Emmanuel Macron has canceled all public events with large crowds through mid-July in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tour organizers say it is now impossible for the three-week race to start on June 27 in the Riviera city of Nice as scheduled.

It is unclear if cycling’s biggest event will be scrapped from the race calendar. New plans are likely to be announced before the end of the month following consultations with the governing body of cycling.

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This Day in NASCAR History: April 14

April 14, 2018 – Ryan Preece won the NASCAR Xfinity Series Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway to take home the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus. Preece passed Brandon Jones for the top spot after a restart with 10 laps to go and went on to take the checkered flag.

April 14, 2013 – Kyle Larson held off a fast-closing Joey Logano in the final laps of the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 to notch his first career victory in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. The win halted Johnny Sauter’s early-season winning streak at two. Logano’s Brad Keselowski Racing team saved a set of sticker tires for the end of the race and the strategy nearly paid off with a win. But Larson, driving the No. 30 Chevrolet for Turner Scott Motorsports, was able to hold him off in a green-white-checkered finish. The margin of victory was 0.177 seconds.

April 14, 2012 – Greg Biffle outran Jimmie Johnson to win the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway for his first victory since October of 2010. Biffle got past Johnson on Lap 304 and never looked back on his way to his 17th (of 19) career win. The race set a pair of track records. There were only two caution flags over the 334-lap event and Biffle’s average speed of 160.575 mph set a new mark.

April 14, 2007 – Matt Kenseth overcame a spin on Lap 54 of 200 in the NASCAR Xfinity (Busch) Series O’Reilly 300 to claim victory at Texas Motor Speedway. Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Ford, completed his turnaround on Lap 192 of 200 when he overtook Denny Hamlin for the lead, marking his first time at the head of the field. Although Hamlin stayed close, he was unable to pass Kenseth, who scored his 23rd (of 29) career series victory and second at Texas.

April 14, 2002 – Bobby Labonte scored his first NASCAR Cup Series short-track win in the Virginia 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Matt Kenseth fought a winning battle with Dale Jarrett and Tony Stewart for second place, with Stewart third and Jarrett fourth. Labonte took the lead from Stewart on Lap 446 when Stewart pitted under the 11th of 14 cautions. Stewart restarted 13th as he was one of two cars on the lead lap that pitted.

April 14, 2001 – Greg Biffle scored his first career NASCAR Xfinity (Busch) Series win in the inaugural Pepsi 300 at Nashville Superspeedway. Biffle, who won in his 10th series start, took the lead from Jason Keller on Lap 187 and cruised to a comfortable victory after leading 133 laps.

April 14, 1996 – Terry Labonte led 167 laps en route to the win in the First Union 400 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Labonte carried a special silver paint scheme on his No. 5 Chevrolet in the race to commemorate him tying Richard Petty’s consecutive start streak at 513, which at the time was a record. Labonte took the lead with 27 laps to go when a caution/red flag was displayed for a multi-car crash that saw leader Rusty Wallace get caught up in. Labonte won the race off pit road over Jeff Gordon under the caution. When the race went back to green with 14 to go, Labonte went on to take the checkered flag by 0.239 seconds over Gordon. Labonte would go on to extend his streak to 655 and four drivers since then have eclipsed that mark with Gordon currently holding the record of 797.

April 14, 1991 – Rusty Wallace held off Ernie Irvan to win the Valleydale Meats 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Wallace battled back from two laps down to take the win from the pole after leading 104 laps. The finish was an exciting one that saw Irvan try to make a move on the final lap in a side-by-side battle. During the race Sterling Marlin was involved in a fiery crash in Turn 1 on Lap 421.

April 14, 1985 – Bill Elliott won the TranSouth 500 for his first of five Darlington Raceway wins. Elliott led 146 laps, including the final 36, and took the win 1.9 seconds ahead of Darrell Waltrip. Dale Earnhardt led 130 laps but fell out of contention while leading with an engine issue.

Other Winners on this Date: 1984 – Ron Bouchard (Darlington, Busch Grand National); 1964 – Ned Jarrett (Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds); 1963 – Richard Petty (South Boston); Fireball Roberts (Langhorne Speedway)

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Hawks GM Travis Schlenk’s philosophy on the NBA draft and free agency

The NBA has been on hiatus since March 11 because of the coronavirus, and it’s not clear if the Hawks will get to play their final 15 regular-season games or what the league’s postseason could look like. 

With all that up in the air, though, the team still has to prepare for the draft and free agency, even if the dates (the draft is scheduled for June 25, with free agency set to begin June 30) get pushed back. 

After a disappointing, clipped season, marred by John Collins’ 25-game suspension, injuries to Kevin Huerter and minimal contributions from now-departed veterans, the Hawks are looking to add depth in free agency and likely are committed to their first- and second-round picks in the draft, according to general manager Travis Schlenk. 

At the time of the season’s suspension, the Hawks had the fourth-worst record in the league at 20-47, ahead of Minnesota (19-45), Cleveland (19-46) and Golden State (15-50). Anything can happen, if the right offer comes along, but those conversations aren’t happening yet, Schlenk said. 

“I think we’re committed to it,” Schlenk said. “Obviously our pick is going to be a top-10 pick, so obviously we’ll keep that, unless some great offer came our way, something we couldn’t turn down. But as of right now, those dialogues aren’t taking place. And then the (pick No.) 52, to be completely frank, the pick doesn’t have a lot of value, so even if we wanted to move it, we wouldn’t really get anything for it, so we’ll keep that, and we’ll do the best we can with it.” 

A lot of the Hawks’ draft strategy will depend on how the lottery shakes out and where they end up picking (the 14 teams that don’t make the postseason are eligible for the lottery, which determines the order). 

But according to Schlenk, they’ll look for the best player available and not focus as much on fit. 

“We could be anywhere between 1 and 8,” Schlenk said. “Last year, we were going in at fifth and we end up at 8 because three teams jump in front of us, so a lot of that is just going to depend on where we end up picking. But we’re going to take who we feel like is the best player there. We’re not going to position it.

“When you start picking that high in the draft, I think it’s a mistake to draft on need, unless the talent is equal, but you look for the best talent when you start drafting that high.” 

Regarding free agency, the Hawks’ front office is meeting via Zoom and going through different teams and players they have their eye on, assessing team and player options and doing their best to project and gauge the market. 

They were projecting to have around $50 million in cap space. However, the situation is fluid because of financial losses related to the coronavirus, which could bring about a big drop in the league’s salary cap. The cap was $109,140,000 for the 2019-20 season, and it’s based on league-wide revenue from the previous season. The league hasn’t announced plans for the final portion of the regular season or the playoffs, so it’s difficult to model exactly how much revenue will be lost. 

Basically, teams could end up with less spending power than they originally anticipated. 

But ultimately, coming off a season in which rookies Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter shouldered heavy responsibility throughout the season, in addition to 21-year-olds Trae Young and Huerter and 22-year-old Collins, the Hawks are looking to add players that are still coming into their own, but have a little more NBA experience. 

They already did this, to some extent, by adding 25-year-old Clint Capela at the trade deadline. A nagging right heel injury has prevented Capela from making his Hawks debut, but once he heals, he figures to give the team a much-needed boost at center moving forward. Although the Hawks feel confident in their “Core Five” of Young, Huerter, Reddish, Hunter and Collins, they’d like to add more depth if they feel it’s a good fit, regardless of position.

“We were projecting that to be around ($50 million). It could be around that much, it could be substantially less, depending on what happens with the rest of the season and playoffs,” Schlenk said. “But at the end of the day, we’ll have the most space. What we’d like to do, ideally, is add guys to our core that we feel like are still growing, maybe not 20-year-olds, 21-year-olds like we have, but maybe guys in their mid-20s who still have room to improve and are maybe coming off their first contract, or that we feel like would be good additions to our group, and try to increase our depth a little bit.” 

Don’t be surprised if the Hawks show a little more aggression in free agency than they have in years past.

“If there’s guys that we think are good fits, we might be out of the gates a little bit sooner,” Schlenk said. “I think the thing I’m always hesitant of is a lot of the times the first couple of contracts handed out might not be the best ones, the ones that look the best on paper.

“I think it’s conceivable that we might make some offers before we have in the past, whether or not teams or I should say agents or players want to jump at the offers we make right away, or see if there’s something better out there, might prevent us more from signing someone right away, but I do anticipate us being a little more assertive in free agency. … It’s all going to come down to the cap.”