No August D-day for Champions League

Paris St-Germain striker Neymar celebrating with Marquinhos after scoring the first goal against Dortmund in their Champions League round-of-16 second leg last month. The French side won 3-2 on aggregate but the European tournament has been suspended
Paris St-Germain striker Neymar celebrating with Marquinhos after scoring the first goal against Dortmund in their Champions League round-of-16 second leg last month. The French side won 3-2 on aggregate but the European tournament has been suspended since April 1. PHOTO: REUTERS

Ceferin's Aug 3 deadline not true, Uefa says; Fifa to give indefinite season extension

LONDON • Uefa has denied there is an Aug 3 deadline to complete this season's Champions League after a report by German broadcaster ZDF quoted the body's president, Aleksander Ceferin, as saying the competition had to be finished by then.

A statement from European football's governing body read: "It has been reported that Uefa president, Aleksander Ceferin, told ZDF in Germany that the Champions League must conclude by Aug 3.

"This is not true. The president was very clear not to set exact dates for the end of the season."

Football leagues across Europe and beyond have been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Covid-19 crisis has also affected the Champions League and the Europa League, with both competitions stalling at the round of 16.

Uefa, along with the European Club Association and the European Leagues umbrella group, is currently analysing all options to complete the domestic and European campaigns.

On the progress of the working group, which was set up on March 17, to find a solution that suits all parties, Uefa said: "The primary priority of all the members is to preserve public health.

"Following on from that, it is to find calendar solutions to complete all competitions.

"Options are currently being studied to play matches in July and in August if needed, depending on restart dates and the permission of national authorities."

But according to The Athletic, leagues will be given as much leeway as possible with regard to completing the term, given the unprecedented challenges brought about by Covid-19.

DO IT FOR THE FANS

Football isn't the same without fans… (but) it is still better to play the game behind closed doors and have it on TV, which is what people need and want because it brings positive energy to their homes, than not playing at all.

'' ALEKSANDER CEFERIN , Uefa president, on the likelihood of games being played in empty stadiums.

The sports website yesterday said Fifa is set to imminently confirm an indefinite extension to the current season, giving power to the football authority of each affected country to decide when the campaign can safely resume and end.

The world governing body will, within days, also push back the traditional summer transfer window to take into account the rescheduling as well as grant contract extensions for players whose deals run out on June 30 - which is when the European season typically ends.

Those moves should provide some direction despite the uncertainty caused by the virus and assuage Ceferin's fears that the Champions League and the Europa League could be called off if the contagion is still not contained by the second half of the year.

Earlier, the Slovenian told ZDF he was worried about the effects of the disease, saying: "We can't play it out in September or October.

"If the authorities do not allow us to play, then we cannot play. The fact is that we really don't know much."

Bringing up the increasing likelihood that matches will be staged in empty stadiums if football is given the green light to restart, he added: "Football isn't the same without fans… (but) it is still better to play the game behind closed doors and have it on TV, which is what people need and want because it brings positive energy to their homes, than not playing at all."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2020, with the headline 'No August D-day for Champions League'. Print Edition | Subscribe