Coronavirus wrap: Bundesliga in line to resume in May and UEFA set guidelines
The Bundesliga could resume as early as next month subject to approval from the German government while UEFA says play-offs could decide Champions League and Europa League qualification in countries across Europe.
Teams in Germany’s top two divisions have already returned to training as the country begins to relax some of its social distancing restrictions imposed to limit the spread of coronavirus.
They are now working towards completing the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign by June 30, the German Football League (DFL) said in a statement released on Thursday.
Completing the season would mean German clubs could receive scheduled payments from broadcast partners, though the DFL statement admitted that if the season cannot restart or is forced to stop again, it could lead to further economic difficulties for German football.
The return to action will be underpinned by a rigorous testing programme, in a country which has been praised for its high level of testing compared to the United Kingdom and other European countries.
The DFL headed off criticism that its planned testing programme would impinge on testing in other settings, saying what it was preparing for would account for only 0.4 per cent of overall test capacity in the country.
UEFA’s executive committee set out guidelines on Thursday for its member associations on how qualification for the 2020-21 continental competitions could be determined in those leagues unable to play the 2019-20 season to a finish.
It stated that if competitions cannot be completed in full, then the next option should be to restart “with a different format in a manner which would still facilitate clubs to qualify on sporting merit”.
It leaves it open to its associations to decide on an appropriate format, but it could mean the introduction of mini-leagues or play-offs featuring teams in the mix for Champions League or Europa League qualification.
Competitions which cannot restart at all must provide “legitimate” grounds for doing so. This would be either an order from government or other authority prohibiting sporting activity from taking place, or an insurmountable economic problem which makes finishing the season impossible because it would threaten the long-term financial stability of a competition or its clubs.
UEFA confirmed that the Women’s European Championship has been put back from the summer of 2021 to the summer of 2022 and will be staged from July 6-31.
UEFA president Alexsander Ceferin said moving the tournament on a year would provide the tournament with “the spotlight it deserves”.
The FA’s director of women’s football, Baroness Sue Campbell, responding to the announcement, said: “As a nation and at the FA, we are extremely proud to be hosting Euro 2021, and are fully committed to delivering a world-class experience for players, staff and fans alike as the best of the European game comes to England.”
Arsenal have spoken to David Luiz, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe and Granit Xhaka after they were pictured flouting government guidelines on social distancing.
Luiz and Xhaka were seen meeting up in a park in north London, a video emerged of Pepe playing football with his friends, while Lacazette was pictured getting too close to a man valeting his car on his drive.
The PA news agency understands that the club have spoken to all four men to remind them of their responsibilities.
The Diamond League has postponed a further two events, both scheduled for June, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The meetings in Eugene, Orgeon on June 7 and Paris on June 13, become the sixth and seventh Diamond League events to be postponed this year, with the season – which had been due to get under way in Doha on April 17 – yet to start.
A statement said: “As with previous suspensions, this decision was reached in close consultation with all relevant parties and based on concerns over athlete safety as well as widespread travel restrictions which make it impossible to stage the competitions as planned.”
Cycling’s world governing body the UCI has said it is close to issuing a proposed calendar for the resumption of women’s road cycling following meetings with representatives of race organisers, teams and riders.
While major announcements have been made as regards men’s racing – with the Tour de France rescheduled to start on August 29 – there have been no details yet on the women’s calendar, which has seen only one race, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in February, take place so far.
The UCI has previously promised an announcement before May 15, and a statement on Thursday said: “The UCI today feels it has enough information to be able to shortly propose a first revised project for the 2020 UCI Women’s World Tour calendar.”
Leeds have announced that the South Stand at Elland Road will be renamed the Norman Hunter South Stand.
Hunter died aged 76 on April 17 after losing his battle against coronavirus.
Leeds tweeted: “@LUFC are proud to announce the South Stand will be named in honour of legendary defender Norman Hunter.”