IMAGE: Poland’s Robert Lewandowski reacts after sustaining an injury as Andorra’s Cristian Martinez looks on during their World Cup qualifier at Polish Army Stadium, Warsaw, Poland on Sunday. Photograph: Aleksandra Szmigiel/Reuters
Bayern Munich’s Poland striker Robert Lewandowski has been ruled out for four weeks after suffering a sprained ligament in his right knee, the German champions said on Tuesday.
Lewandowski sustained the injury in Poland’s World Cup qualifying win over Andorra on Sunday, ruling him out of their match against England on Wednesday, and had scans on Monday.
His injury is a big blow to Bundesliga leaders Bayern who travel to second-placed RB Leipzig on Saturday.
The injury will also rule him out of the reigning European champions’ two Champions League quarter-final legs against last year’s runners-up Paris St Germain, scheduled for April 7 and April 13.
Bayern also look set to miss his services when they play third-placed VfL Wolfsburg in the league (April 17) and top-four chasing Bayer Leverkusen (April 20).
Lewandowski has been in sparkling form this season with 42 goals in all competitions, which includes 35 league goals.
The 32-year-old was on track to break Gerd Mueller’s 1971-72 Bundesliga season record of 40 league goals in one campaign with eight games left.
Lewandowski, the 2020 FIFA World Player of the Year, climbed to second place in the Bundesliga all-time scorers list earlier this month when he moved up to 271 goals, behind only Mueller and his astonishing 365-goal record.
Juve’s Buffon gets one-match ban for ‘blasphemous expression’
IMAGE: Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Photograph: Jennifer Lorenzini/Reuters
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has been handed a one-match ban for making a “blasphemous expression” and will miss Saturday’s Turin derby at Torino, the Italian Federal Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday.
Buffon was initially given a 5,000 euros ($5,862.00) fine over an incident which took place during a Serie A clash against Parma on Dec. 19 last year.
That sanction was appealed by the federal prosecutor, which was accepted on Tuesday by the Federal Court of Appeal, with Buffon’s punishment upgraded to a one-match suspension.
Buffon, 43, has played only five Serie A games this season with Wojciech Szczesny the first choice for the champions.
Andrea Pirlo’s Juve side are third in the standings, 10 points behind leaders Inter Milan with 11 games left to play, and look unlikely to make it 10 Scudettos in a row.
UEFA to lift 30% COVID limit on crowds
UEFA are set to remove their maximum spectator limit, currently set at 30% of a venue capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to allow bigger crowds at Euro 2020 matches in June.
Russian and English authorities have indicated they could allow larger crowds into venues for the tournament games in St Petersburg and London’s Wembley stadium. UEFA are keen to make sure the rules are in place to allow for larger capacities elsewhere, should they be possible.
It is likely that instead of a new maximum capacity, UEFA will leave decisions on increased crowd size to local authorities.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap would allow for limited crowds of 10,000 in the early stages of the delayed tournament but opens the possibility of full-houses after the country enters stage four of the roadmap on June 21.
As well as hosting some group games, Wembley is also the venue for the semi-finals and final of the tournament.
Host venues have a deadline of April 7 to inform UEFA of their planned stadium capacities.
Any hosts that cannot guarantee there will be fans in the stadium risk losing their hosting rights.
Most football authorities are relying on their governments to give them permission to open up stadiums to fans and the issue is whether they will be able to predict the situation in June ahead of next week’s deadline.
It is likely that most venues in Western Europe will not be able to get more than 25-50% capacity.
St Petersburg has said it is aiming for 50% capacity while Denmark’s government has said they can allow 12,000 fans at 30% capacity at the 38,000 Parken Stadium in Copenhagen while hoping to increase that number.
Welch becomes first female referee appointed to EFL match
Rebecca Welch has become the first female referee to be appointed to an English Football League match as she prepares to take charge of the League Two clash between Harrogate Town and Port Vale next week, the EFL said on Tuesday.
Welch has previously officiated men’s matches in the National League as well as elite women’s matches such as the FA Cup final in 2017, but on Monday she will set a new benchmark for female referees in English football.
Although Amy Fearn became the first woman to referee an EFL game as a second-half replacement for injured referee Tony Bates in a Championship match in 2010, Welch is the first woman to get an official appointment.
“It shows that there is a real opportunity to young girls who are wondering if to they are to take the whistle or are already referees they can aspire to be an EFL referee or like Sian Massey-Ellis operating in the Premier League,” Welch said on the EFL website https://www.efl.com/news/2021/march/rebecca-welch-becomes-first-female-referee-appointed-to-efl
“I’m really proud of it because my journey as a referee I started with not really having any aspirations to be doing things like this interview.”