News ID: 267968
Published: 0332 GMT April 20, 2020

UEFA chief Ceferin: Leagues ready to play behind closed doors

UEFA chief Ceferin: Leagues ready to play behind closed doors
ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said Monday that leagues across Europe were ready to return to action behind closed doors in a bid to limit the damage caused by coronavirus.

Football leagues have been suspended since mid-March due to the pandemic which has claimed more than 100,000 lives throughout the continent, AFP reported.

But the head of European football believes that playing would be an important step toward a return to normal life and avoid heavy financial losses for leagues.

"I believe there are options that can allow us to restart cup championships and to complete them," Ceferin said in an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

"We may have to resume without spectators, but the most important thing, I think, is playing games.

"It is early to say that we cannot complete the season. The impact would be terrible for clubs and leagues. Better to play behind closed doors than not at all.

"In such hard times it would bring happiness to people and a certain sense of normality even if the games can only be seen on TV.

"All activities are being organized to start again, everyone needs to find their lives.

"If safety measures are respected and if the authorities give the green light, the training could resume like the rest.

"Further consent will be needed for matches."

Ceferin said that if leagues returned "soon enough" then Champions League and Europa League matches could "be played in parallel" with no date limit for the finals.

The Slovenian said he was not in favor of the season going into September and October as it "would have a heavy impact" on the 2020-2021 campaign.

"We can finish, but we must respect the decisions taken by authorities," he continued.

"The priority is the health of fans, players and coaches."

As for countries who have decided not to finish the season, Ceferin said that UEFA "will review the cases".

"Such decisions were not made alone," he said.

"Football is interconnected, we have seen how important it is for UEFA and leagues to work in good cooperation. The executive committee will review the cases."

He added, "Leagues are the revenue base for clubs nationwide. If completed, the financial consequences will be limited.

"UEFA, on the other hand, will lose a lot of money for postponing Euro 2020."

 

'Ghost games'

 

Meanwhile, German FA chief Fritz Keller insisted the Bundesliga could only resume next month behind closed doors, while supporters have questioned the morality of football returning at all during the pandemic.

 

The German Football League, DFL, hopes to get the go-ahead from Angela Merkel's government for the top two tiers to resume next month – possibly on May 9 or 16.

There are hopes a decision will be made on Thursday after the 36 clubs in the first and second divisions meet via video call.

German football was halted on March 13 to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus in Germany.

"This week, important decisions will be made on how to proceed," Keller told Kicker.

With large public events banned in Germany until August 31, the only viable option for league action to resume next month would be in empty grounds – dubbed 'ghost games' in German.

"We are very much aware that football without fans lacks its heart," admitted Keller.

"From discussions and feedback from fan organizations, I know how much it hurts fans that they cannot support their clubs in the stadium."

 

The DFL is desperate for the season to be finished by June 30 to secure an installment of television money, reportedly worth around €300 million ($326 million).

Fritz warns that without that money, "some fans might never be able to attend a game of their club again, because it might soon no longer exist".

 

 

 

   
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