The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) could be breathing a sigh of relief as the country remained on the amber list in the latest update of the United Kingdom’s Traffic Light System, which applies to travel to and from the country.

Earlier this week, the Premier League announced that, based on the current quarantine rules, it would not release players for the upcoming round of World Cup qualifiers to countries on the UK’s red list.  It was later joined by the La Liga and Serie A competitions and yesterday, England’s second tier, the EFL also joined the list of clubs.

The concerns stem from the fact that players returning from red-listed destinations would, based on the rules, be forced to quarantine for 10 days.  The leagues argue that those conditions would lead to players missing games, in addition to having to make up for fitness requirements.

Unless an agreement can be worked out the decision will impact the availability of several teams competing in the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, which kick off on September 2.

At current, Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica are the teams that have been placed on the red list.  The USA, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Honduras are all on the amber list, while Canada has been moved to the green list.

Individuals returning from red list countries are required to quarantine in a managed hotel for 10 days and are subject to at least two COVID-19 tests.

Fully vaccinated individuals travelling to countries on the amber list would be subject to taking a COVID-19 test two days after arriving or before.  Non-vaccinated individuals returning from countries on the amber list would have to undergo the mandatory 10-day quarantine period.

Based on the interpretation of the rules and the club’s specific stipulation of not allowing players to travel to red list countries, the CONCACAF countries on the amber and green list could potentially have their players available.  Baring a change of circumstances, affected countries on the red list would be left short-handed.  However, vaccine stipulations, which it seems are required to exempt individuals from mandatory quarantine, could complicate things.

Jamaica has at least 10 players who ply their trade between the Premier League and England Football League (EFL).  Among the EPL players are Andre Gray (Watford), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa), and potentially Michail Antonio (West Ham) who recently received official documentation after switching from England.  It is currently not known how many of the team's overseas players are vaccinated.

 

 

The United States have won their seventh Gold Cup title after Miles Robinson's 118th-minute goal clinched a 1-0 extra-time victory over Mexico in Sunday's final in Paradise, Nevada.

Atlanta United defender Robinson came up with the decisive goal with a header from Kellyn Acosta's left-flank free-kick, denying Mexico their 12th continental crown.

The Gold Cup triumph backs up US's CONCACAF Nations League success in June, also beating El Tri in extra-time in that final 3-2.

Mexico had beaten USA in the 2019 Gold Cup final 1-0 in Chicago, with the two nations sharing the past 10 titles.

The victory is a major triumph for Gregg Berhalter's side as the US move on from missing out on qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

It was also US's fifth 1-0 victory throughout the Gold Cup, having beaten Qatar and Jamaica in the knockouts by the same scoreline.

Robinson was the hero with the winner but goalkeeper Matt Turner was exceptional, as both sides blew chances throughout.

Eryk Williamson had the first chance of the game, with a bouncing volley easily collected by Mexico goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera, while down the other end Hector Herrera had a header saved by Turner.

US should have taken the lead in the 26th minute when Sebastian Lletget stole the ball on the edge of the box and set up Paul Arriola but his low effort hit the post.

Turner was crucial in keeping it 0-0 with two key saves to deny Mexican forward Rogelio Funes Mori before Edson Alvarez shot marginally wide.

Orbelin Pineda snatched at a golden chance in the 50th minute, pushing his shot wide when unmarked inside the box, while Alvarez desperately blocked Matthew Hoppe's 71st-minute chance.

Arriola spurned another chance from a free-kick which fell kindly to him as Talavera smothered his effort on goal.

In extra-time, Talavera made a good low save to deny Gyasi Zardes in the 106th minute, before Robinson's header which settled the contest.

Sweden ended the United States' 44-game unbeaten run with a 3-0 win in the Olympics group stage on Wednesday and Megan Rapinoe hailed them as one of the best European sides ever.

Strikes either side of the half-time whistle from Stina Blackstenius and a goal by Lina Hurtig proved the difference as Sweden claimed a famous triumph over their heavyweight rivals, who they defeated on penalties in the 2016 quarter-finals.

The world champions enjoyed a two-year spell without losing before the Group G opener but will quickly have to bounce back if they are to follow up their France 2019 success with Olympic gold.

Rapinoe found it hard to defend the USA's performance as she credited Sweden's hard-working display.

"We did not play a very good game and that is to take nothing away from Sweden, they played a great game," the attacking midfielder said after the match.

"This is the highest level and these are the best teams in the world. Sweden are one of the best ever in Europe and the world. If we don't play well we don’t win these games.

"We want to be a lot better, we played a bit tight and hurt ourselves a lot. You can't say one thing specifically.

"I can't remember the last time we gave up a goal, so to give up three is not great but we know what we need to do to win these games, get out of the group and go from there."

Head coach Vlatko Andonovski refused to panic and is keen to see a response against New Zealand on Saturday.

"It has put us in a big hole and we are the only ones who can get ourselves out of it," he said. "It is not going to be easy. We have to get good results in the next two games, but I know this team will not give up.

"I don’t remember this team losing 3-0 in recent history so it is a bit of a shock, but everyone is positive. We still have games ahead of us. We have got to bounce back. We have to forget this game and focus on the next one."

In contrast, Blackstenius, whose brace sealed a remarkable victory, spoke glowingly of her team, who were without Chelsea captain Magdalena Eriksson for the win.

"I'm very happy about the goals - of course I'm happy to score. The team helped me very much and I think I could have scored at least two more but I don't want to focus on that. I'm just happy and proud of the team", the forward said.

“We developed our game and our play. It's very good and we have so much quality in every player. Every player is also very different from the other. We have so many players that can do good stuff and as a team we are very good. Every player is very happy about going very attacking."

Hedvig Lindahl, though, maintained that Sweden's win was simply a starting point and that Peter Gerhardsson's side had not achieved what they had come to the Games for yet.

"It's just the first group game, we haven't won anything yet. We need to keep going," the veteran goalkeeper said. "If you have one high into lows in the group then this means nothing. But to win against the USA, it's something we can take some confidence from.

"You can go very far in a tournament even if you lose to the USA or whoever you play in the first game, so I don't know how much it means, but we showed the world and ourselves that we can play good against a team like the US and any team."

Shaq Moore struck after just 20 seconds as the United States beat Canada 1-0 in Kansas City to clinch top spot in Group B at the Gold Cup.

The tournament hosts withstood late Canada pressure to preserve a 100 per cent record, following the 1-0 win over Haiti and 6-1 thrashing of Martinique.

Moore's winning goal saw him sidefoot home from close range after Sebastian Lletget's low cross from the left rolled across the six-yard box.

It was the USA's fastest goal in Gold Cup history, tournament officials said, and it was Tenerife defender Moore's first international strike.

Gyasi Zardes glanced a header wide of the right post as the United States sought a second early goal, and Daryl Dike fizzed a shot a yard off target after a low cross from the right.

Canada began the second half with purpose, Tajon Buchanan drawing an early save from New England Revolution team-mate Matt Turner, but an equaliser proved elusive.

Jonathan Osorio, Buchanan and Richie Laryea all tried their luck without reward, and a late 20-yard shot from Lucas Cavallini that skidded off the surface and into Turner's arms was Canada's last chance at Children's Mercy Park.

Gregg Berhalter's United States side advance to a quarter-final against the runners-up from Group C, to be played on July 25 in Arlington, Texas.

Canada, coached by John Herdman, remain alive in the competition despite this loss, and they advance as runners-up from Group B to face the Group C winners.

Jamaica and Costa Rica, both with six points from two games so far in Group C, are certain to progress. They go head to head in Orlando on Tuesday to decide who finishes top and faces Canada and who comes second in that pool and takes on the US next.

Daryl Dike scored a double as the United States claimed their second win at the CONCACAF Gold Cup with an emphatic 6-1 victory over Martinique in Kansas City on Thursday.

USA, who won 1-0 in their Gold Cup opener against Haiti, found their goal scoring touch with four second-half goals to seal their passage into the quarter-finals.

The largely MLS-based US side was dominant, with 69 per cent possession and 20-9 shots against Martinique who lost 4-1 to Canada in their first-up game.

Orlando City forward Dike opened the scoring with a 13th-minute header from Schalke talent Matthew Hoppe's cross, before Dike's 23rd-minute header deflected in off Martinique's Samuel Camille.

After the break, defender Miles Robinson headed in from close range before Dike grabbed a second after a slalom run and lobbed finish in the 59th minute.

Martinique pulled one back from the spot in the 64th minute from Emmanuel Riviere.

Columbus Crew forward Gyasi Zardes drilled a low shot home in the 70th minute before Gianluca Busio found substitute Nicholas Gioacchini to net a sixth in stoppage-time.

USA will finish their group phase against Canada, who won 4-1 over Haiti on Thursday, on Sunday in Kansas City, while Haiti and Martinique – who are both eliminated – face off in Frisco.

Canada are level on points and goal difference with the USA but ahead on goals scored heading into the final fixture, meaning the hosts must win to top the group.

The United States will aim to put a halt to Haiti’s flow when the teams meet in Group B of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup on Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

The U.S.'s overall record against their opening opponent is 7W-6D-9L might surprise some, but U.S. fans shouldn't be surprised by Haiti's ability to challenge on the pitch. Two of the Stars and Stripes' legends, Joe Gaetjens and Jozy Altidore, have Haitian heritage. Former player, Gaetjens played for the U.S. in the 1950 World Cup and scored the stunning game-winner in his team's historic upset over England. Altidore is currently third place for all-time USMNT goals (42) and ninth in international caps at 115.

The U.S. comes in as the defending Concacaf Nations League winners after an impressive 3-2 extra-time win over Mexico in June. Aside from a few holdovers, the team chosen to represent in the Gold Cup is mostly different. This is an opportunity for several players to make an impression on head coach Gregg Berhalter.

This U.S. team still boasts star power from abroad, namely in forwards Matthew Hoppe and Nicholas Gioacchini, who play for Schalke and Caen in Germany and France, respectively, while defender Shaquell Moore plays in Spain for Tenerife. There are a number of MLS stars featured on the roster as well. Between DC United’s Paul Arriola and the Columbus Crew’s Gyasi Zardes, they account for 20 U.S. goals and will look to add to that number in Gold Cup action.

However, Haiti has hit the ground running in the tournament, having already seen game action in the Prelims. Duckens Nazon scored three goals in the Prelims and now has seven overall goals, making him not only Haiti’s top Gold Cup scorer but also for the Caribbean.

Strikers are often more effective as a duo, so it is ideal for Haiti that Frantzdy Pierrot is also rounding into great form, scoring a hat trick in the final Prelims game. Pierrot is now right behind Nazon in overall Gold Cup goals with six. Pierrot working beside Nazon on the field means that the U.S. faces a pair of extremely effective strikers. Goalkeeper Matt Turner’s shot-stopping skills, which have proved to be the best in MLS this season, will now be tested in international action.

The tasks are set for both teams, with the U.S. looking to stop Haiti’s flow and get a good start of their own in a tournament the U.S. have won six times. Haiti will try to maintain their momentum, especially their scoring streak, to build on the semifinal finish the team produced in 2019.

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have established themselves as genuine title contenders in the flagship Concacaf Gold Cup.

Over the three consecutive editions, the Jamaicans were beaten finalists in 2015 (3-1 to Mexico) and 2017 (2-1 to the United States), and were losing semi-finalists in 2019 (3-1 to the U.S.), performances that underline their pedigree in the biennial tournament.

Having come so close to being crowned champions, the only thing left for the Reggae Boyz at this stage it seems is to lift the trophy.

Still, veteran Damion Lowe says while the team will be targeting the title, it’s a goal they aim to pursue with an air of cautious optimism, and with as little pressure as possible.

“There is no pressure because people always write us off, and even now people don’t give us the recognition that we deserve and how good we are as a team, especially in tournaments,” he said.

“Nobody expected us to become a powerhouse in Concacaf as we started from scratch and built the programme,” Lowe added.

When Jamaica kick-starts its Group C campaign against Suriname at Exploria Stadium in Orlando on July 12, Lowe notes that the plan is to let the country’s football do the talking.

“So for us, the job is the same and that’s to prove people wrong. We will do our best and let the football speak for itself,” said the Al-Ittihad defender, who will be participating in his third Gold Cup tournament.

Lowe, 28, says he has grown to love playing in the Gold Cup.

“Playing in the Gold Cup tournament is always a joy. We are grateful for the experience and how far we have come as a nation and we just want to move on to higher heights,” he said.

The Jamaicans, who are currently hosting a pre-tournament training camp in Orlando, have quality within their ranks with the likes of Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon and Bailey and former Manchester United wonder kid Ravel Morrison.

With the pair, plus a host of English-born players and local-bred talent, the Boyz are quite capable of ruffling more than just a few feathers in the 2021 edition of the confederation’s marquee competition.

The Boyz also have group stage matches against Costa Rica and Guadeloupe.

Meanwhile, Lowe says he is still getting used to life playing in the Egyptian topflight.

 

Haiti arrives at the Concacaf Gold Cup with momentum gained from their 4-1 victory over Bermuda in the Prelims to qualify for the main tournament.

This will be the eighth Gold Cup for Les Grenadiers, as the Haitian squad is nicknamed. Unlike some other teams in the tournament, Haiti has full focus on the Gold Cup, since earlier this year the squad was eliminated from World Cup Qualifying.

Though the team once won the earlier version of the Concacaf tournament (in 1973), they have never won the modern version, called the Gold Cup. Coach Jean-Jacques Pierre, who is a former Haitian national team player and is in his first year coaching the squad, will have the players looking to build on their dynamic play from the qualifying tournament.

With a mix of players from teams abroad in Europe sprinkled in with Major League Soccer members and others from Caribbean clubs, Pierre has an intriguing ensemble to manage.

Haiti is coming off their best-ever participation in the 2019 Gold Cup, where the team reached the semifinals. One of their best matches in the tournament was a thrilling comeback 3-2 quarterfinal victory over Canada, who is one of their Group B opponents this year.

Haiti came up against eventual winners Mexico in the semifinal, but fought hard in a 1-0 extra-time loss, with the goal against them coming from a penalty kick taken by Raul Jimenez.

Frantzdy Pierrot was the break-out star for Haiti in the 2021 Prelims. The forward, who plays in France’s Ligue 2, scored three of the team’s four goals in the match against Bermuda. Duckens Nazon, another experienced forward for Haiti who plays in Belgium, scored the final goal from the penalty spot.

Both also scored for Haiti in the team’s electrifying 2019 Gold Cup run, so the pair is likely to slide back into a scoring groove for the team once the tournament begins.

Having ultimately qualified on July 6, Haiti is a bit of a wildcard in Group B, since other coaches haven’t had much advance notice in order to prepare for the squad. Haiti opens up Gold Cup play on July 11 against the United States

 

Guatemala are a step closer to the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup group stage after posting a 4-0 victory against Guyana in the First Round of the 2021 Gold Cup Prelims on Saturday night at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Sha ‘Carri Richardson has apologized for her actions that led to the disqualification of her 100m results from the US Olympic trials last month after traces of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis, was found in her samples taken after the race in Eugene, Oregon.

The athlete has also accepted a one-month ban from the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which means she will miss the 100m. The ban takes effect on June 28 with the Olympics set to start July 23.

Speaking on NBC this morning, mere hours after news broke yesterday that she had tested positive for a banned substance, a contrite Richardson said: “I want to take responsibility for my actions. I know what I did. I know what I am supposed to do. I know what I am allowed not to do and I still made that decision but not making an excuse or looking for any empathy.

“I’d like to say to my fans and my family and my sponsorship, the haters too, I apologize. As much as I am disappointed, I know that when I step on the track I don’t just represent myself, I represent a community that has shown me great support, great love and I apologize for the fact that I didn’t know how to control my emotions. I am human.”

She explained that her actions were triggered by an interview before her race when a reporter told her that her biological mother had died the week before. Richardson was reportedly abandoned at birth and was raised by her grandmother. The news, she said, caused her to be blinded by emotion and hurt.

“To hear that coming from a complete stranger was definitely triggering, nerve shocking because it was just like how are you to tell me that, that sent me in state of mind of emotional pain and I still had to go out and put on a performance,” she said.

Richardson might have lost her place in the 100m as, according to reports, Jenna Prandini, who was fourth in the 100m finals at the US trials, has been pencilled in to replace her and 200m champion Gabby Thomas entered as the alternate runner.

Asked if she would take that slight chance she has to run in the relays, Richardson responded: “Right now, I am just putting all my time and energy into doing what I need to do to take care of myself. If I am allowed to receive that blessing then I am grateful for it but if not, right now I am just really focused on myself.”

She concluded by saying this was not the end of the road for her as she intends to bring the 100m gold medal back to the USA at the next Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 and vowed the name Sha’carri Richardson would never be associated with performance-enhancing drugs.

 

USA Track and Field appears to confirmed that Sha Carri Richardson has returned an Adverse Analytical Finding for cannabis from last month’s US Trials and will likely miss the Olympic Games this summer.

American sprint sensation Sha Carri Richardson has reportedly tested positive for a banned substance and is likely to miss out on her making her Olympic debut, according to multiple reports.

The 21-year-old American, who won the 100m at the US trials last month, returned an adverse analytical finding, following a test administered at the US Olympic Trials and marijuana was classified as a Substance of Abuse by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on January 1, 2021.

According to the reports, the use of this substance carries a maximum four-year ban.

However, if she can prove that the use of the drug was used outside of competition and was not intended to enhance performance, she could have the ban reduced to three months. It has also been reported that should she agree to undertake a treatment program, the ban could be reduced further.

As it stands, however, the athlete has been stripped of her performances at the US trials and fourth-place winner Jenna Prandini as well as Gabby Thomas have been notified that they could be potential replacements and have been entered in the 100m.

Richardson, the 2019 NCAA 100m champion, generated much excitement for a potential match up with two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce when she raced to a world-leading 10.72 100m in April. It was the fastest any woman had ever run so early in a season.

She followed it up with four more times under 10.8 seconds during the season.

When Fraser-Pryce, who is vying for an unprecedented third Olympic 100m title, ran a world-leading 10.63 on June 5, the excitement in anticipation of a blockbuster clash in Tokyo intensified.

Now it seems that that match up will not happen.

The best-case scenario for Richardson, should the ban remain in effect, is that she would be available to run on the USA’s 4x100m relay team at the Olympic Games in August if selected by USA Track and Field.

 

 

Briana Rollins-McNeal, the 2016 Rio Olympics 100m hurdles champion has been banned for five years by the Disciplinary Tribunal of the Athletics Integrity Unit starting August 15, 2020, for tampering with the results management process.

It was the second violation for the 2013 World Champion, having been banned for a year in 2016 by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after missing three drugs tests - two of them after she forgot to update her whereabouts details when she was attending a fete of honour in her hometown and travelling to the White House to meet the President Barack Obama.

However, the athlete has filed an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), which has stayed the sanction until they have heard her case. CAS will hear the full case and make a ruling before the start of this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo on July 23.

This will allow her to compete at the USA Olympic trials which end on June 27. Should CAS uphold the ban, Rollins-McNeal, 29, will be banned until August 2024, which means she would also miss the Olympic Games in Paris, France.

 

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