May 18 – UEFA has dismissed reports that clubs whose leagues have been prematurely cancelled this season because of Covid-19 face being placed in the preliminary rounds of European competitions.
In an interview with beIN Sport, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin revealed he thought the decision to permanently call a halt to the 2019-20 Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 campaigns in France was “premature” from his standpoint.
French authorities have ruled that no sporting events can be held until at least September, meaning Paris St Germain were crowned champions while runners-up Marseille will join them in the Champions League group stage, with third-placed Rennes settling for the third-qualifying round.
Holland and Belgium have also cut short their seasons and in his interview. Ceferin said: “For us, the important thing is that we know who is the champion, who is second, who is third, and fourth.
“My personal opinion is that you cancel a season super early, it’s not an ideal thing because things can improve a lot and everybody can play except a few leagues. But if it’s the decision of the government, what can the clubs do? Or the league? They cannot do anything. But for me the decision was premature. But it doesn’t affect UEFA, so it’s their decision.”
UEFA later clarified Ceferin’s comments by explaining: “With regard to the way some quotes in an interview with beIN have been reported, UEFA wishes to make clear that President Ceferin said that clubs from leagues which were abandoned in this season would still need to be ready to play qualification rounds for next season according to the current access list. He did not mention or hint at any change to the UEFA club competitions access list.”
In his interview, Ceferin also confirmed that UEFA were still intending to finish the Champions League and Europa League if the green light is given to do so.
UEFA has a plan in place to end the 2019/20 campaign with the Champions League final at the end of August.
“We have a concrete plan of finishing the European season,” he said. “Of course, this summer we will have to play without spectators at the stadiums.
“I can say that the European season will be finished, if everything is as it is now, in August. As things look now, I’m sure that we can finish the European season and this means UEFA competition.
“The national leagues are a separate thing and they will decide separately how they want to proceed. But I think at least 80% will finish the season.”
To those who believe it is wrong to bring football back so soon both from a sporting and moral standpoint. Ceferin said: “It’s about people being depressed because we are locked down, because there is so much uncertainty, and football brings life to a usual level. Football brings positive energy.”
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