UEFA Asks for 2019-20 Seasons to be Completed
The governing body of European football has asked all of the football associations under its rule to complete their 2019-20 seasons amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The decision has come from UEFA after nearly all football associations in Europe decided to stop all domestic leagues and tournaments after the novel coronavirus began to spread across the continent.
Nearly all of the football in Europe was called off in an effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus amongst players and fans alike. Just one football league on the continent remained in play. This was the Belarussian Premier League that is ongoing to this day.
The Belarussian president also suggested that vodka and saunas could be an adequate treatment for the virus that causes pneumonia-like symptoms and that has killed thousands across the globe. For this reason, many have chosen not to follow the example of the Belarussian Premier League when it comes to continuing to play football.
It wasn’t just domestic leagues and competitions that suffered as a result of the COVID-19. The competitions that mark the jewel in the crown of UEFA, the Champions League, and the Europa League were also suspended indefinitely. The international competition, the 2020 European Championship was also called off until next year, much to the dismay of football fans across Europe.
At present, football in almost all countries in Europe remains suspended. On the 21st of April, however, UEFA emphasized its desire for the national leagues and domestic competitions in Europe to be resumed and completed before the beginning of the 2020/21 season. This desire was discussed with 55 representatives of the member associations that make up the body via video call several days ago.
The consensus from the meeting was that there was a strong recommendation to finish the current seasons, especially across the top divisions and the most prestigious cup competitions on the continent. Whilst there may be special cases where this is not possible, the majority of the member associations seemed to agree on this.
To facilitate such an outcome, UEFA is working on some guidelines that will help to clarify any plans to continue with leagues and tournaments. These guidelines will also provide assistance for nations that have canceled any national leagues and cup competitions.
The Suspended Leagues
Amongst the leagues that have been suspended indefinitely as a result of the outbreak, are the Spanish La Liga, the Serie A in Italy, and the Premier League in England. These leagues are some of the biggest supporters of the idea of finishing the season rather than canceling it outright.
Other European leagues have had different approaches to the situation, however. In Belgium, for example, the First Division A announced that it would be ending the season early and would crown the current leaders of the competition, Club Brugges, as the champions.
There is a point to be made that such a solution may be possible in the Belgian league, but not in others. When the league was suspended back in March, Club Brugges was 15 points ahead of the next closest team in the competition. Such a disparity in the levels of leading clubs may not be present in other European league and so the decision may not be as clear cut.
There is also the possibility that the Belgian league will face repercussions from UEFA as a result of the early cancelation of the competition.
The Eredivisie in Holland is also undecided on whether to attempt to finish the league this season or to call it off entirely. In the Netherlands, the government has announced a ban on all sporting events until the 1st of September at the earliest, and, as such, it is hard to see when the Dutch football league could feasibly be concluded.
This ban on public events has left the Dutch football association in a position where it does not intend to finish the 2019/20 season. This decision is not final, however, and the football association plans to meet with the member clubs in Holland to decide on a solution before deciding on whether to call off the season.
In Scotland, there is a debate going on as to whether to end the season early. In the lower tiers of Scottish football, the leagues have already been canceled, but it is not yet known how this will affect the premier division in Scotland. Some clubs have called for the title to be given to Celtic, which would mark their eighth consecutive victory in the tournament.
More recently in England, the national football league clubs have also voted to end the current season at the point at which it was left. At present, it is not known how this will affect the promotion and relegation of teams in these divisions but the decision was taken after the majority of clubs voted in favor of ending the season.