What Happens To Football Beyond Borders
Now with competitions such as the Bundesliga now underway and intentions of resumptions being declared in other major European leagues, there is a sense that the show will go on and 2019/20 champions will eventually be declared.
Of course, for any league to resume, there are several hurdles that need to be cleared and some may still prove to be somewhat insurmountable, which could subsequently mean a cessation in any competitive activity.
Hurdles such as player welfare, fixture venues, crowd control are just a few that will need to be resolved before any green light is turned on and when you consider these are the issues on a domestic level, the concerns are far greater on a continental one.
Although, with any league that is looking to revive itself, they have the slightly simpler parameter of dealing with what goes on within their own borders. However, for a governing body such as UEFA, the task becomes far more difficult.
You only have to look at the delay in the European Championships to see what effects COVID-19 has had on any major UEFA tournament and although the intention is to stage it just 12 months later, that is yet to come with any real certainty.
Due to so much concern regarding social distancing and the fact that football stadiums are not designed to adhere to his policy, there is a feeling that the pan-European festival is going to have to be held behind closed doors.
While even if the party does have some attendees, the very nature of multiple venues across Europe and the transient movement of supporters that will bring, may well mean that the schedule has to be amended and perhaps just a single nation plays host instead.
Then again, it is not just international football that will cause UEFA headaches over the next few months, there is also the question of how to deal with both the Champions League and Europa League knockout phases.
With so many borders still shut, the prospect of teams facing off both home and away in the 2019/20 editions of each tournament look far from likely and with a schedule logjam now in place, the question remains on how to ease it.
In addition to that, it is not just shut borders that pose a problem, even if they are opened in due course and thankfully that does seem to be the plan, the quarantine measures are still likely to be in place.
Take for example the meeting between Manchester City and Real Madrid, each team could have to spend a total of four weeks in quarantine in both England and Spain, to complete their Round of 16 tie.
A prospect that although would meet any Government regulations in either nation, would be simply unfeasible from a fixture scheduling perspective and it is this scenario, that now has UEFA desperately looking for a solution.
As far as the Champions League is concerned, the prospect of playing a knockout tournament for the final eight clubs in Istanbul has been mooted and it might just prove to be the best way to finally declare a winner.
However, that only really solves the problem in the short-term and when you consider the qualifiers for 2020/21 are meant to start in July, a huge question regarding next season’s whole tournament currently remains unanswered.
Written by Dan Tracey
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