The long-delayed 2020 Chinese Super League (CSL) is set to kick off on Saturday, even though new COVID-19 cases were found near one competition venue.

Dalian, where Fabio Cannavaro’s champions Guangzhou Evergrande will face FA Cup winners Shanghai Shenhua in the CSL season opener, saw two more confirmed cases on Thursday, said a spokesman from Dalian’s municipal government.

But the spokesman added that the resurgence of COVID-19 would not affect the start of the 2020 CSL season, which was originally slated to begin on February 22.

“The competition venue has been sealed off since 8pm on July 17. So far everything is operating well there,” said the spokesman.

The 16-team league has been split into two groups – one based in Dalian and the other in Suzhou – to play the tournament-style first phase of the CSL season from July 25 to September 28 behind closed doors.

To minimize the risk of infection, all players, coaches, match officials and other staff involved in the CSL season have been required to stay inside a specific area during this period without any physical contact with the outside.

All people currently inside the sealed area have tested negative for COVID-19, and will be tested once a week until the first phase of this season is finished, the spokesman said.

The league organizers called for an emergency meeting on Wednesday night after being informed of a new COVID-19 case confirmed in Dalian that day.

It was decided at the meeting that CSL administrators would take stricter measures if there is increased risk of the virus spreading.

BEIJING, July 8 (Xinhua) — 2020 Chinese Super League games will feature artificial crowd noise and extra visual effects to counter the lack of fans in the stadium, the Chinese Football Association revealed Wednesday.

With COVID-19 containment measures preventing any fans from attending matches during the delayed 2020 CSL season, CFA chief Chen Xuyuan told Xinhua that the added audiovisual effects would hopefully enhance the viewing experience for those watching on television.

Other features include video replays to be shown on the stadium’s screens when goals are scored, and music being played as the players are warming up before the game. Enditem

BUENOS AIRES, July 8 (Xinhua) — Italy World Cup winner Daniele De Rossi has expressed a desire to return to his former club Boca Juniors as their head coach.

De Rossi parted ways with the Argentinian side in January, ending a professional career spanning two decades.

Injuries restricted the 36-year-old to just seven appearances with Boca, whom he joined in July after 18 seasons with Roma.

“I have in mind the idea of returning as the coach of Boca,” he told Argentinian newspaper La Nacion. “I could be last on the list, but that’s my idea. If things had gone well, I would have already … started my coaching career at the club.”

De Rossi said his decision to leave Boca was based on family reasons. But his brief spell at La Bombonera left him craving more and he now has a goal to guide the club to glory in the Copa Libertadores, South America’s premier club competition.

“The day I terminated my contract, I was in the Bombonera offices and suddenly I saw the Copa Libertadores trophy in a window. I said to myself: ‘I have nothing left to give as a footballer … [but] I want to return as a coach because this team is in my heart’,” he said.

“It was an incredible but short experience. Too short for what I wanted to do. But it was very intense. Very strong,” added De Rossi, who was capped 117 times for Italy and was a part of the Azzurri team that won the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Enditem