The current status of UEFA’s European competitions amid the COVID-19 crisis will be the main item on the agenda of the UEFA Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday and Thursday.
During the two days of videoconference discussions, the committee, chaired by UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin, will analyse the present situation as football at European and domestic levels continues to face the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
UEFA’s competitions on hold
Since the novel coronavirus started spreading across Europe earlier this year, all of UEFA’s men’s and women’s competitions for club and national teams have remained on hold until further notice.
With people’s health and safety paramount, UEFA acted in compliance with national measures and recommendations made by the World Health Organization, as well as in close consultation with its 55 member associations and other key football stakeholders – clubs, leagues and players’ bodies.
Preparations to deliver matches
Now, as national authorities ease lockdown conditions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, domestic football competitions are getting back underway in several European countries. In turn, European football’s governing body is moving into a position where it aims to be fully prepared to deliver matches in its own competitions whenever and wherever they take place – both to complete the 2019/20 season and/or kick off the 2020/21 season.
This week’s Executive Committee meeting will discuss how the 2019/20 campaign could be completed in the major UEFA club competitions – the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Women’s Champions League, UEFA Youth League and UEFA Futsal Champions League – all of which had reached the knockout stages when they were halted by the COVID crisis.
Talks will also centre on potential calendars for the qualifying phase, play-offs and group stage of both the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, along with the calendar for the 2020/21 UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Maltese clubs participating in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League will be entering the competitions in the first qualifying round. Floriana will be representing Malta in the UEFA Champions League while Valletta, Hibernians and Sirens will represent Malta in the UEFA Europa League. In the 2020/21 UEFA Women’s Champions League, Malta will be represented once again by Birkirkara.
National team competitions
Two major national team final tournaments – UEFA EURO 2020 and UEFA Women’s EURO 2021 – have already been moved to 2021 and 2022 respectively.
The Executive Committee will hear an update about the status of the EURO 2020 venues and tournament match schedule, and discuss the rescheduling of the EURO 2020 play-offs which will complete the 24-team field for the finals, due to be staged in cities throughout Europe next summer to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the competition.
The schedule for the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League group stage is also up for discussion, alongside the calendar and format of the 2019-21 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
In the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League, Malta was due to play the Faroe Islands in Torshavn on September 3, host Latvia on September 6, play Andorra away from home on October 9 and Latvia on October 12 and finally hosting Andorra on November 14 and the Faroe Islands on November 17.
Finally, the committee will deliberate on the calendars and formats for two postponed youth tournaments – the 2019/20 UEFA European Women’s Under-17 Championship and UEFA European Under-19 Championship – and will be briefed about the situation in UEFA’s futsal competitions.
Other agenda items
The committee’s two-day agenda also includes the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying draw procedure, and proposed amendments to the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations designed to offset the financial effects of the COVID-19 crisis on European clubs.
In addition, the Executive Committee will be asked to approve new UEFA heading guidelines for youth players, which aim to help protect youngsters’ health and ensure their safety both in training sessions and match play.