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UEFA to discuss suspending Champions League, Europa League

UEFA to discuss suspending Champions League, Europa League
© Reuters
Manchester City's Champions League second leg with Real Madrid, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed.

Euro 2020 could be postponed until next summer at an emergency UEFA meeting next week prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

European football’s governing body has called together its 55 member associations to discuss options for completing the Champions League, the Europa League and the possibility of moving the Euros amid widespread disruption to the fixture schedule caused by travel restrictions and positive tests.

The Covid-19 outbreak has had a huge impact on the sporting calendar across the globe, with Formula One’s Australian Grand Prix postponed.

It is understood everything will be on the table in terms of options at the UEFA meeting, including moving the Euros, changing hosting arrangements or the format of the event. Similarly, the club competitions will also be looked at to see if there is a way they can continue.

Further updates from UEFA could come on Thursday evening concerning next week’s Champions League and Europa League matches, with Tuesday’s matches between Real Madrid and Manchester City and Juventus and Lyon both postponed.

Real’s players had been quarantined as a precautionary measure after a member of the club’s basketball team tested positive for coronavirus.

That followed news on Wednesday night that Juventus’ Daniele Rugani had tested positive for Covid-19 and that isolation procedures were being put in place for other squad members who may have had contact.

A statement from UEFA on Thursday afternoon said: “In the light of the ongoing developments in the spread of Covid-19 across Europe and the changing analysis of the World Health Organisation, UEFA has today invited representatives of its 55 member associations, together with the boards of the European Club Association and the European Leagues and a representative of FIFPro, to attend meetings by video conference on Tuesday March 17 to discuss European football’s response to the outbreak.

“Discussions will include all domestic and European competitions, including UEFA Euro 2020. Further communication will be made following those meetings.”

It is understood the Europa League matches that had not already been postponed will be played tonight as planned.

Real Madrid said in a statement: “Real Madrid reports that a player from our first basketball team has tested positive after testing for the Covid-19 coronavirus.

“Since then, the recommendation has been made to quarantine both the basketball first team and the football first team, given that the two squads share facilities in Madrid.

“Likewise, it has been decided to close the facilities of our sports city and it is also recommended that all Real Madrid personnel who provide their services in Real Madrid City remain in quarantine.”

Leicester confirmed three players were in self-isolation on medical advice from the NHS after showing “symptoms consistent with common seasonal illness”.

Manager Brendan Rodgers said at a press conference: “We’ve had a few players that have shown symptoms and signs (of coronavirus).

“We’ve followed procedures and (as a precaution) they have been kept away from the squad.”

Lewis Hamilton has questioned the decision to stage this weekend's Australian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton has questioned the decision to stage this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix (David Davies/PA)

The Australian Grand Prix was called off over health concerns, which followed a member of the McLaren team testing positive for the virus.

The decision was taken following a crisis two-hour summit involving F1’s hierarchy,  governing body the FIA, and a number of the sport’s team principals in Melbourne.

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton had earlier criticised the decision to press ahead with the event.

“I am very, very surprised we are here,” the Briton said.

“It’s great we have races but it’s shocking we are sitting in this room.”

Meanwhile, the Danish football federation expects the friendly against England at Wembley on March 31 will be cancelled.

The Football Association is following advice from the British Government regarding the staging of sporting events, with the Prime Minister due to lead a Cobra meeting on Thursday.

Wales’ friendly against the United States on March 30 was also postponed, with the Football Association of Wales announcing the news on Thursday afternoon.

Ministers are expected to agree at that meeting to move into the ‘delay’ stage of the response against the virus. A total of 590 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 9am on Thursday, up from 456 at the same point on Wednesday, the Department of Health said.

Moving to the delay stage would mean social distancing measures could be brought in, such as restricting public gatherings like major sporting events and issuing more widespread advice to stay at home.

England are due to face Italy in a match scheduled for March 27, but with Italy in lockdown it seems hugely unlikely that the game will happen.

Wembley is still set to host two England football friendlies as things stand later this month
Wembley is still set to host two England football friendlies as things stand later this month (Nick Potts/PA)

A number of Scottish sporting events are set to be postponed or played behind closed doors following an announcement by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who told the Scottish Parliament she would recommend the cancellation of gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday.

The decision is set to come into force the day after Rangers host Celtic in one of this weekend’s Ladbrokes Premiership fixtures.

The Guinness PRO14 – which features Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Italian and South African clubs – was suspended for an unspecified period of time.

Former Southampton forward Manolo Gabbiadini has also tested positive for coronavirus, his current club Sampdoria have confirmed.

America’s Major League Soccer competition has been suspended with immediate effect for 30 days owing to the outbreak, the league announced in a statement.

The NBA season has been suspended indefinitely after a Utah Jazz player tested positive ahead of a match against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Basketball’s world governing body FIBA is suspending all its competitions from Friday onwards, while EuroLeague Basketball is also suspended until further notice.

The Miami Open tennis has also been cancelled, with the men’s ATP Tour announcing a six-week suspension of activity. Also in Florida, the PGA’s Players Championship will continue without spectators on site from Friday onwards.

A statement from the International Olympic Committee on Thursday reaffirmed its commitment to the 2020 Games in Tokyo going ahead as scheduled, starting on July 24.

“With 19 weeks before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the many measures being taken now by authorities all around the world give us confidence and keep us fully committed to delivering Olympic Games that can bring the world together in peace.”

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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool29271166214582
2Manchester CityMan City28183768313757
3Leicester CityLeicester29165858283053
4Chelsea29146951391248
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd29129844301445
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves29101364134743
7Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd28111073025543
8Tottenham HotspurSpurs29118104740741
9Arsenal2891364036440
10Burnley29116123440-639
11Crystal Palace29109102632-639
12Everton29107123746-937
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2998122541-1635
14Southampton29104153552-1734
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton29611123240-829
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham2976163550-1527
17Watford2969142744-1727
18Bournemouth2976162947-1827
19Aston Villa2874173456-2225
20Norwich CityNorwich2956182552-2721

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