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A year to go but postponed Euro leaves UEFA with plenty to ponder

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In different circumstances, the eyes of the football world would have been on Rome for the opening game of Euro 2020 this Friday, but instead the tournament was postponed by a year and UEFA are considering changes to the unprecedented format in a Europe shaken by the coronavirus pandemic.

The competition will still officially be called Euro 2020 when it finally kicks off on June 11, 2021, presumably at the Stadio Olimpico which was supposed to host the first match between Italy and Turkey.

That was before the health crisis forced European football’s governing body to take action in mid-March and delay the tournament by 12 months as the continent became the epicentre of the pandemic.

Fast forward almost three months from then and Europe has been traumatised by the impact of Covid-19, with more than 180,000 confirmed deaths and well over two million cases in total.

Italy, supposed to be the first port of call for a European Championship staged for the first time in 12 different nations, has suffered 34,000 deaths.

Only the UK among European countries, with over 40,000 deaths, has been harder hit. The semi-finals and final of the Euro are due to be played at Wembley in London.

Many European countries are gradually coming out of lockdowns but their economies are reeling and there remain fears of a second wave of infections.

It will take time for international travel restrictions to be lifted and possibly longer before governments consider it safe to allow gatherings large enough to fill the large stadiums set aside to host matches during the Euro.

  • Changes to venues? –

These are two major unknowns that UEFA must deal with. The body was already facing criticism, including from climate change activists, for its decision to spread the 24-team tournament across the entire continent, with games being played in venues as far apart as Dublin and Baku.

However, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin recently hinted that the number of host cities could be reduced. In an interview with beIN Sports, he admitted to having “some issues” with three cities.

“So we will discuss further, and in principle, we will do it in 12 cities. But if not, we are ready to do it in 10, nine or eight,” Ceferin said.

A key UEFA Executive Committee meeting set for next Wednesday, June 17, could see an announcement made regarding that as well as regarding a likely change of venue for this year’s postponed Champions League final.

It is not clear which host cities are being called into question, although organisers in Glasgow have insisted that the Scottish city is not affected.

UEFA have plenty more to consider, including the issue of reimbursing supporters who had bought tickets for matches before the postponement.

It must still work out when to reschedule the play-offs to decide the final four qualified nations for the Euro, but it says that the 2020/21 Nations League competition will still go ahead as planned.

Meanwhile, the postponement was not necessarily bad news for competing sides.

England manager Gareth Southgate might have been without injured captain Harry Kane and his fellow striker Marcus Rashford, of Manchester United, had the tournament gone ahead this year. Now he can look ahead in the hope that all his key men will be raring to go in 2021.

“At one point we were possibly looking at being without Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane, or at the very best both of those not having a lot of football,” Southgate told Sky Sports.

“The age of the team you would hope would be better in a year’s time but we have to go and prove that on the pitch.”

Currently the top ranked team in the world, Belgium recently moved to tie down coach Roberto Martinez, extending his contract through to 2022.

The Netherlands, another of the co-hosts, should have Memphis Depay, one of their standout players, fully fit again after a knee injury, and coach Ronald Koeman will hope to be back on form after being hospitalised with a heart problem in May.

However, the delay may not be great news for holders Portugal, whose talisman Cristiano Ronaldo will be 36 by the time the finals eventually come around. All going to plan.

Reporting and photos: AFP

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Catch the wind with Kitesurfing World Champion Youri Zoon at COMO Cocoa Island

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Embark on an exhilarating kitesurfing odyssey from May 6th to 20th, 2024, at COMO Cocoa Island alongside Youri Zoon, celebrated for seizing the kitesurfing world championship twice. Under his seasoned guidance, amplify your kitesurfing prowess, whether you’re a neophyte craving the fundamentals or a seasoned aficionado striving for intricate manoeuvres and airborne thrills.

Kitesurfing merges windsurfing, surfing, and wakeboarding for a dynamic water sport. Using controllable kites, riders harness wind power to glide across the ocean’s surface while being set against the backdrop of endless horizons and azure waters.

Throughout his residency, Zoon will conduct guided kitesurfing sessions, offering novices a gentle introduction to the sport or empowering veterans to elevate their abilities. Additionally, Zoon will host enlightening COMO Conversations, delving into his personal journey to kitesurfing eminence and the obstacles he surmounted along the way.

Guests may arrange activities with Zoon at their leisure, with plenty of time to make the most of our private island comforts, from massage treatments at COMO Shambhala to sandbank dinners under the stars and more.

Hailing from the Netherlands, Zoon’s affinity for kiteboarding burgeoned at the tender age of 13. A prodigious talent, he swiftly amassed accolades, securing victories at the Junior European Championships and Dutch Nationals in his inaugural year. Subsequently clinching the world title in 2011 and 2012, Zoon’s enduring passion for the sport fuels his ongoing commitment to mentorship and coaching, ensuring his legacy endures both on and off the water.

Nestled within South Male Atoll, COMO Cocoa Island beckons discerning travelers with its intimate enclave of 33 overwater villas. Renowned for its iconic Dhoni Water Villas, which pay homage to Maldivian maritime heritage, this idyllic retreat offers a sanctuary of tranquillity and indulgence. Accessible via a scenic 40-minute speedboat journey from Velana International Airport, COMO Cocoa Island promises an unrivalled blend of luxury and seclusion.

For details on COMO Hotels and Resorts or to plan your next escape, please visit https://www.comohotels.com/cocoaisland.

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Sheraton Maldives hosts successful second season of Full Moon Futsal Cup

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Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa celebrated the culmination of the highly anticipated Full Moon Futsal Cup on March 31, 2024. The tournament, which commenced on March 17th, brought together 12 teams from neighboring resorts in Malé Atoll, fostering a spirit of friendly competition and camaraderie.

SO/ Maldives emerged victorious after a thrilling final match, securing the coveted title of Full Moon Futsal Cup Champions 2024. Mohamed El Aghoury, General Manager of Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, presented the winning team with the Championship trophy and gold medals during a closing ceremony. Additional prizes, medals, and certificates were awarded to recognize the exceptional talent displayed by all participants.

“We are honored to have hosted and participated in such a vibrant tournament,” Mohamed El Aghoury commented, reflecting on the event’s success. “The Full Moon Futsal Cup celebrates not only sportsmanship but also fosters strong bonds within the resort community.”

Throughout the tournament, all teams showcased exceptional skill, determination, and teamwork, captivating spectators and fellow competitors alike. Notably, Sheraton Maldives’ own associate teams, Team Sheraton and Team Furana FC, participated with commendable spirit.

This involvement aligns with Marriott International’s Associate Resource Groups (ARGs) initiative, which prioritizes fostering an inclusive workplace where employees feel valued. The participation of the Young Professionals ARG team specifically exemplifies the group’s dedication to community building, skill development, and mentorship. The tournament provided a platform to spotlight the energy and potential of young professionals, promoting their growth and contributing to the organization’s future success.

Extending beyond a sporting event, the Full Moon Futsal Cup embodies the values of unity, friendship, and healthy competition. This aligns with Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa’s commitment to fostering community connections and Marriott International’s TakeCare philosophy, which emphasizes the importance of physical well-being among associates.

The Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa extends its sincere gratitude to all participating teams, supporters, sponsors, and organizers who contributed to the resounding success of the Full Moon Futsal Cup 2024. The resort eagerly anticipates continuing this tradition of sporting excellence and camaraderie in the years to come.

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Dive into memorable underwater adventure with Baros Maldives’s Eco Explorer Experience

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In today’s world, where the fragile balance of marine ecosystems teeters on the edge, to call for sustainable tourism practices resonates louder than ever. Baros Maldives, deeply rooted in its respect for nature, leads the way in conservation and preservation. Baros’s Eco Explorer Experience stands as a testament to the island’s commitment, inviting guests to not just observe but to actively contribute to the safeguarding of our underwater sanctuaries.

Nestled on a lush, natural island paradise, Baros is a sanctuary surrounded by a kaleidoscope of marine life, boasting a world-class house reef, celebrated for its unparalleled beauty and biodiversity, attracting adventurers and nature lovers alike.

The Eco Explorer Experience is a carefully curated immersive experience designed for those who seek to delve deeper into the mysteries of the ocean. This experience is more than an adventure; it’s a journey of discovery and contribution, offering intimate encounters with the marvels of the sea, all while promoting marine conservation.

With this experience, Baros guests enjoy a myriad of enriching activities, culminating in a bespoke photobook documenting the essence of their Eco Explorer journey beneath the waves.

Coral Restoration and Conservation: Participants will immerse themselves in coral ecology, by planting personal coral gardens under the guidance of Baros’s resident Marine Biologist. This hands -on experience not only fosters coral growth but also contributes to the restoration of these vital habitats. Through the Coral Cube initiative, guests will apply innovative techniques like using fast plug cement to build thriving underwater ecosystems. The Baros marine team will share bi-annual updates with the guests so that they can follow the growth of their corals.

Marine Life Identification: This educational session equips guests with the knowledge to identify different fish species and understand their vital roles within the marine ecosystem. Equipped with snorkelling gear and new insights, guests will explore Baros’s world- class house reef during a snorkelling tour, guided by the resident marine biologist, to witness the vibrant marine life.

Night Snorkelling and Bioluminescence: As night falls, the reef reveals a different kind of beauty. With UV lights, guests will explore this nocturnal wonderland, observing the reef’s inhabitants in a new light. This magical experience is not only enchanting but also educational, offering insights into coral health and the ecosystem’s delicate balance.

Baros recognises the fragility of the marine environment and is committed to fostering sustainable tourism practices. The Eco Explorer Experience is more than a holiday activity, it’s an invitation to become part of a larger movement, advocating for the protection and preservation of our marine environments.

Join the Baros marine team on this extraordinary journey. Together, dive deeper, explore further, and unveil the boundless wonders of the ocean, ensuring they remain vibrant for generations to come.

For bookings and more information, please visit www.baros.com or contact Baros directly at reservations@baros.com or call +960 664 26 72.

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