European governing-body Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), targeted to finish this season’s Champions League, Europa League, and domestic leagues by June 30, despite the game cancellations due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
In an emergency meeting done via videoconferencing, officials from UEFA, European Leagues (EL), European Club Association (ECA) and FIFAPro Europe or the association of players playing in Europe, came to the conclusion on how to stage the domestic and club competitions despite the game cancellations.
‘’A commitment to complete all domestic and European club competitions by the end of the current sporting season, i.e. 30 June 2020 at the latest, should the situation improve and resuming playing be appropriate and prudent enough,’’ said the stakeholders in a joint resolution published in the UEFA website.
The joint resolution also added: ’’Possible limitations or drops of current exclusive calendar slots, potentially resulting in the scheduling of domestic league matches in mid-week and scheduling of UEFA club competitions matches on weekends.’’
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, EL President Lars-Christer Olsson, ECA President Andrea Agnelli, and FIFAPro Europe President Bobby Barnes signed the joint resolution.
The joint resolution also added the adaption of Champions League and Europa League qualifying rounds format are also in the table if the domestic or club competitions failed to conclude by June 30.
‘’Possible adaptations of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League qualifying rounds in case of late completion of the 2019/20 sporting season, i.e. after 30 June 2020,’’ the resolution read.
The joint resolution also stated that two working groups will be established with the first working group will handle the schedule conflicts of domestic leagues and club competitions, among other concerns.
‘’A working group composed of representatives from UEFA, leagues, and clubs will be immediately established to examine relevant calendar matters and devise solutions allowing for the resumption and/or conclusion of the current season in a coherent manner,’’ the joint resolution said.
Meanwhile, the other working group job will be assessing the impact of game suspension due to COVID-19 to all concerned stakeholders.
‘’A second working group composed of representatives from UEFA, leagues, clubs, and players will be set-up at a later stage to assess the economic, financial and regulatory impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and propose measures to help mitigate the consequences of the pandemic,’’ the resolution added.
The cancellation of UEFA Champions League games affected the Round of 16 return games or Leg 2 of Manchester City vs Real Madrid; Juventus vs Lyon; Chelsea vs Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona vs Napoli.
Many rounds of 16 matches were also affected in the Europa League due to game cancellations with UEFA deciding to delay the draw for the quarterfinals of the Champions League and Europa League.
Some members of the football circles tested positive to COVID-19, which contributed to the decision to suspend the leagues, aside from countries imposing travel bans and restrictions on large gatherings, which sports events are included to prevent the spread of the disease.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, Valencia center-back Ezequiel Garay, Chelsea winger Callum Hudson- Ohio, Juventus players Daniele Rugani and Blaise Matuidi, Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakos and Japan Football Association President Kozo Tashima are some of the personalities in the football world tested positive for COVID-19.
Many domestic leagues in Europe and other continents either suspended or delayed the start of their season until the fourth week of April.
With this current COVID-19 pandemic which is not only affecting the football world but also the sports world as a whole, every stakeholder are hoping everyone will bounce back from the huge challenge our world is tackling.