UEFA working to deal with virus threat to Euro on ‘case by case’ basis

AMSTERDAM, March 3, 2020 – European federation UEFA, 101 days ahead of the kickoff of Euro 2020, will deal with the coronavirus crisis on a “case by case basis.”

This cautionary message was delivered by president Aleksander Ceferin and general secretary Theodore Theodorakis immediately after UEFA’s annual congress in Amsterdam.

Some 56 deaths have been reported thus far in Europe including 53 in Italy where the European Championship finals are scheduled to kick off in Rome on June 12. Some 2,798 cases have been reported across the continent.

Already league football has been suspended in neighbouring Switzerland after emergency government prohibitions on gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

Swiss concern

Dominique Blanc, president of the Swiss federation, had expressed particular concern. He had warned congress: “We are facing a situation which could shake professional football to its foundations. So, unfortunately, we will not be able to avoid scheduling postponed matches at the same time as UEFA club competitions.

“If the situation persists we will not be able to avoid talking to UEFA about financial aid. It’s a worst case scenario but it cannot be dismissed out of hand.”

The Euro finals are being staged over a month in 12 countries from Azerbaijan to Portugal and Spain to Russia. In addition, the playoffs for the last slots in the finals will commence in two weeks’ time.

Theodorakis told a press conference: “We are taking contact with the World Health Organisation and the different governments. We have to deal with it on a case by case situation. We do not want to over-react but we have created a line of contact.

“We have also had a meeting with the European Leagues [association] to create a coordinating group to find the best possible solutions. The calendar is already congested so working together is where we want to find the solutions.

“There are also different scenarios for the more urgent matches in two weeks’ term.”

Ceferin added: “We have security concerns, political instability concerns and one of the concerns is the virus. We are dealing with it and we are confident we can deal with it.

“Let’s try to be optimistic and not think about dark scenarios. There’s time for that later.”

Other issues:

Ceferin . . . said presumption of innocence was paramount concerning the continuance of Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi on the UEFA executive committee while he faces criminal charges in France and Switzerand. Al-Khelaifi, who denies all wrongdoing, is a delegate from the European Club Association.

Ceferin . . . refused to comment about the two-year ban imposed on Manchester City for financial fair play breaches because “I do not know [the details of] the case and it wouldn’t be appropriate [to speak] even if I did.”

Ceferin . . . said that, as far as VAR was concerned, there were clear issues concerning the judgment of both offside and handball. These are being reviewed by the law-making International Board.

Ceferin . . . welcomed the imminent appointment of England’s Bobby Barnes as the first black member of the UEFA disciplinary committee..

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