European football set for UEFA-led talks on restart options

The UEFA executive committee is set to join by video link on April 23, European football’s governing body said on Tuesday.

Published : Apr 14, 2020 22:40 IST , GENEVA

The Champions League trophy
The Champions League trophy

The Champions League trophy

UEFA will host another round of talks next week with European football leaders as they look for a way to end the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The UEFA executive committee is set to join by video link on April 23, European soccer’s governing body said Tuesday. That will follow separate days of calls with UEFA’s 55 member federations and officials representing clubs, leagues and player unions.

UEFA is giving priority to completing national league and cup competitions, which would best stabilise Europe’s soccer economy by trying to fulfil broadcasting contracts worth billions of dollars.

Read: How Liverpool conquered the FIFA Club World Cup

Though there is no clear end to the lockdown, one best-case contingency plan drafted by UEFA is for domestic games to continue into July and August.

This season’s Champions League and Europa League could then resume once domestic titles are decided. Both were halted during the round of 16 in March.

With UEFA talks pending, Belgium’s federation said the national top-tier league will no longer decide on Wednesday on a recommendation to end the season and declare the current standings final.

A league assembly will instead happen after the UEFA meeting, the Belgian federation said on Tuesday.

UEFA does not want national bodies making quick decisions to end its domestic season. A joint statement was issued two weeks ago with the European Leagues and European Club Association groups to warn that Champions League entries were at risk if leagues act too soon.

Of the big leagues, Germany’s Bundesliga looks closest to a return to action with players back in training and talk of games resuming in May in stadiums without fans.

However, a meeting of Bundesliga clubs due this Friday has been delayed until April 23, the same date that UEFA’s leadership meets.

The UEFA executive committee last month cleared space for a potential restart by postponing the European Championship by one year to 2021 — with the knock-on effect of more congestion in the national-team fixture calendar.

Other UEFA-organised games now affected include qualifying groups for the 2022 World Cup — due to start next March — and the next Nations League finals tournament. Its five-day slot in June 2021 is now taken by Euro 2020.

The women’s Euro 2021 tournament in England is also in line to be delayed one year. That would avoid a clash with the men’s tournament, which has seven games played in London at Wembley Stadium, including the final and semifinals.

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