Football leagues ready to play behind closed doors – UEFA

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UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin

The president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), Aleksander Ceferin on Monday said that football leagues across Europe were ready to return to action behind closed doors in a bid to limit the damage caused by coronavirus.

Football leagues have been suspended since mid-March due to the pandemic which has claimed more than 100,000 lives throughout the continent.

But the head of European football believes that playing would be an important step towards a return to normal life and avoid heavy financial losses for leagues.

“I believe there are options that can allow us to restart cup championships and to complete them,” Ceferin said in an interview.

“We may have to resume without spectators, but the most important thing, I think, is playing games. It is early to say that we cannot complete the season. The impact would be terrible for clubs and leagues. Better to play behind closed doors than not at all.”

“In such hard times it would bring happiness to people and a certain sense of normality even if the games can only be seen on TV. All activities are being organised to start again, everyone needs to find their lives.”

Valencia and Atalanta played their UEFA Champions League 2nd leg tie at an empty Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain. 10th of March, 2020.

“If safety measures are respected and if the authorities give the green light, the training could resume like the rest. Further consent will be needed for matches,” Ceferin added.

Ceferin said that if leagues returned “soon enough” then Champions League and Europa League matches could “be played in parallel” with no date limit for the finals.

The Slovenian said he was not in favour of the season going into September and October as it “would have a heavy impact” on the 2020-2021 campaign.

“We can finish, but we must respect the decisions taken by authorities,” Ceferin said. “The priority is the health of fans, players and coaches.”

As for countries who have decided not to finish the season, Ceferin said that UEFA “will review the cases”.

“Such decisions were not made alone,” he added. “Football is interconnected, we have seen how important it is for UEFA and leagues to work in good cooperation. The executive committee will review the cases.”

“Leagues are the revenue base for clubs nationwide. If completed, the financial consequences will be limited. UEFA, on the other hand, will lose a lot of money for postponing Euro 2020.”

 

Chidi Nwoke.