Saturday May 16 2020
Ceferin: 'Consequences if leagues don't finish'

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin warns clubs face ‘preliminary rounds’ if they don’t complete their domestic seasons, pointing Serie A and the Premier League towards the Bundesliga safety protocol.

Football is back as of this afternoon, with the Bundesliga firing up again after the lockdown, but France, Holland and Belgium already shut down, with Italy, England and to a lesser extent Spain still arguing over how to resume safely.

“Nobody wants to be considered irresponsible,” Ceferin told the Corriere dello Sport. “The organisers of the national competitions are working on very serious and thought-out security protocols that will have to be applied with absolute rigor.

“There is no such thing as zero risk in any work environment. I have a great deal of respect for Serie A players and directors, so I don’t believe there is any attempt at a boycott.”

While the Serie A race is still extremely tight, Premier League leaders Liverpool are worried that the season could be considered null and void, despite their huge advantage at the top.

“All sporting titles should be assigned based on results. As responsible leaders, we must ensure that will be the case as long as even the slightest chance exists of using a practicable solution.

“There is a concrete plan to complete the European season, too. I think most of the leagues will be able to bring their campaigns to completion. Those who do not, and that is their choice, will have to go through preliminary rounds if they want to participate in the next UEFA competitions.

“We’re waiting for the dates to be confirmed, but I can guarantee that the Cup tournaments will be concluded in August, assuming of course there are no cataclysmic events.

“The national leagues are separate and they must decide autonomously how to proceed. As I said many times, I think at least 80 per cent of the tournaments will be concluded on the field of play.”

Serie A had just agreed a medical protocol, only for the clubs and Players’ Association to reject it 24 hours later, so group training is set to begin on Monday with no firm idea of what happens if someone tests positive.

The Government wants the entire squad quarantined for 15 days automatically, whereas the football elements insists just isolating the infected person will suffice.

“Italy is one of the big European football nations and Serie A has an essential value, seen by many sports lovers outside of the country,” continued the UEFA President.

“Of course, public health has the priority, but like all other sectors in an economy devastated by the pandemic, it is our duty to complete our work. UEFA and domestic competitions are physiologically linked and we want to see clubs who won their tournaments to then take part in European cups. The essence of sport, not just football, is to base success on results.

“What happens in case of a player testing positive for COVID-19 is the fundamental passage for continuing competitions. I am not a medic, but I see that in some countries – such as Germany – the solutions adopted are more targeted and functional to continue activity, not to its sudden interruption.”

The issue we all know that football is going to have to deal with after the pandemic is playing behind closed doors, potentially for many months.

“I fear that for a certain period, it won’t be possible to let fans into the stadiums. I hope it doesn’t last too long, after which we’ll finally meet again in stands packed with passionate sporting enthusiasts. All of us want that, me more than anyone.”

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