UEFA Champions League, Europa League qualifying round matches to be played behind closed doors

Matches from the qualifying rounds of the 2020/2021 UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League will be held behind closed doors. This was confirmed by the UEFA Executive Committee on Thursday.

Floriana play the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round on August 18/19 while Valletta, Hibernians and Sirens will be in action in the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round on August 27.

Only for this year, matches will be played in single legs and therefore the draw would determine whether the teams would play at home or away from home. The draws should be held on August 10.

On 17 June 2020, the UEFA Executive Committee had decided to postpone the decision on whether the upcoming UEFA matches would be able to accommodate supporters or would have to be held behind closed doors, in order to monitor the evolution of the situation and the measures taken by local authorities on mass gatherings and attendance at sports events.

Several elements were taken into account by UEFA when making a decision, such as the protection of the health of all those involved in the matches as well as the public at large; a responsibility to provide the safest environment for matches in order to guarantee the progress of competitions; as well as ensuring sporting fairness within a very inconsistent landscape (with some countries allowing and some forbidding stadium attendances).

Consequently, in light of the current situation, the UEFA Executive Committee felt it prudent to conclude that UEFA matches should take place behind closed doors until further notice. This decision was made in agreement with the national associations and authorities of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League, 2019/20 UEFA Europa League and 2019/20 UEFA Women’s Champions League final eight tournaments’ hosts Portugal, Germany and Spain. This restriction will also apply to the remaining matches in the 2019/20 UEFA Youth League.

In any case and irrespective of any future decision, for reasons of sporting fairness, as the format of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League and the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League qualification phase has been changed to single leg matches (either home or away), this decision will apply to all such matches played over one leg.

UEFA said it will monitor the evolution of the situation and advise on any full or partial lifting of restrictions at the appropriate time.

UEFA Return to Play Protocol

The UEFA Return to Play Protocol which sets out the framework of sanitary and hygiene-related procedures – including in relation to testing – as well as operational protocols that will be applied when staging UEFA competition matches – was approved.

The Protocol may be supplemented in due course with specific operational guidelines covering either aspect of its implementation or specific competitions.

It will be mandatory for all clubs and national associations – as well as their players, officials, staff and contractors – to comply with the Protocol and any related guidelines as a condition for participation in any upcoming UEFA competitions.

As the current situation is dynamic and unpredictable, both in terms of its epidemiology and the nature of the countermeasures imposed by national governments, the Protocol will evolve over time and may be updated as required to reflect the changing public health and regulatory environment.