LONDON: Uefa bowed to the inevitable yesterday and suspended all Champions League and Europa League soccer matches “until further notice” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
European soccer’s governing body also said all national team games scheduled for June have been postponed, including playoff matches for Euro 2020, which has been moved to 2021.
The finals of Europe’s elite Champions League competition, second-tier Europa League and Women’s Champions League, all of which were scheduled for May, had already been postponed.
While most leagues in Europe hope to finish their domestic seasons once restrictions on movement and social contact are lifted, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said last week the season could be lost if play does not start by the end of June.
He told Italian newspaper La Repubblica: “There is a plan A, B and C. The three options are to start again in mid-May, in June or at the end of June.
“There is also the possibility of starting again at the beginning of the next [season], starting the following one later. We will see the best solution for leagues and clubs.”
Ceferin said playing remaining games behind closed doors would have to be an option across Europe.
“It’s hard for me to imagine all the matches behind closed doors, but we still don’t know whether we’ll resume, with or without spectators,” he said.
“If there was no alternative, it would be better to finish the championships.”
A mini-tournament to decide the Champions League and Europa League is expected to be one option put forward to ease fixture congestion caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Yesterday’s video conference call of Uefa’s 55-member associations included a broad ranging discussion on the crisis and what options might face the game in the coming weeks.
A source, who was part of the call, said while no decisions were taken, given the lack of certainty over the timeframe for the pandemic the understanding was that the longer the delay, the more the priority would fall on completing domestic seasons.
One possibility on the table at Uefa, in case of a long delay into the summer, is to complete the European club competitions with a mini-tournament, such as a ‘final four’.
Uefa’s executive committee also decided to give clubs more time to complete the club licensing paperwork for next season and suspended the provisions that demand clubs provide future financial information.
Meanwhile, the Women’s European Championship – set to be held in England in 2021 – will be moved to the summer of 2022.