UEFA insists ‘no Plan B’ for Champions League amid Lisbon virus concerns

Aleksander Ceferin
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Updated 01 July 2020

UEFA insists ‘no Plan B’ for Champions League amid Lisbon virus concerns

  • Ceferin has admitted that it is unlikely any of the matches will be played in front of crowds

LAUSANNE: UEFA insists there is “no reason to prepare a Plan B” for the final eight of the Champions League in Lisbon despite Portuguese authorities reintroducing restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus.

“We hope everything will be fine and that it will be possible to organize the tournament in Portugal. For the moment there is no reason to prepare a Plan B,” a UEFA spokesperson told AFP.

The spokesperson added that European football's governing body is in “constant contact with the Portuguese Football Federation and the local authorities.” 

UEFA announced earlier this month that the latter stages of the Champions League would be staged exceptionally as a straight knockout competition from the quarterfinals onwards with all matches in Lisbon.

Earlier this month, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said: “For now things look well, and we hope everything will be fine until we organize the final eight.”

He added: “We are assessing the situation, not week by week but day by day, and we will adapt when the time comes, if necessary.”

Portugal had not suffered to the same extent as other western European countries during the pandemic but last week Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced that some coronavirus restrictions would be reimposed in and around the capital to help control fresh outbreaks.

From Wednesday, 19 neighborhoods on the northern edges of Lisbon will go back into lockdown.

Gatherings will be limited to a maximum of five people in these areas, compared to 10 people in the wider Lisbon area and 20 people across the rest of Portugal.

The final eight is due to begin with the first quarterfinal on Aug. 12, with the final scheduled for Aug.  23.

Matches will be played at Benfica's Estadio da Luz and the nearby Estadio Jose Alvalade, home of Sporting.

Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig and Atalanta all qualified for the quarterfinals before the competition was suspended in March.

The remaining last 16, second legs are: Juventus vs. Lyon; Manchester City vs. Real Madrid; Bayern Munich vs. Chelsea and Barcelona vs. Napoli.

It is hoped those matches — set for Aug. 7 and 8 — will not need to be played on neutral ground but they could also be moved to Portugal, with UEFA standing by to spread the matches around the country, in Lisbon as well as in the northern cities of Porto and Guimaraes.

Ceferin has admitted that it is unlikely any of the matches will be played in front of crowds but said UEFA would reassess the situation in July.


Iranian football’s Esteghlal suffer 12 positive cornavirus tests

Updated 07 July 2020

Iranian football’s Esteghlal suffer 12 positive cornavirus tests

  • Esteghlal, twice Asian champions, are sixth in the Iranian league which resumed play on June 25
  • The president of Foolad Ahvaz, a club from the south-western city of Ahvaz, confirmed that 16 club staff, including 11 players, had tested positive

TEHRAN: Eleven players and one staff member at Tehran football giants Esteghlal have tested positive for coronavirus, official agency Irna reported on Tuesday.
“After tests, 12 people — a team doctor and players — were confirmed positive” Irna reported, quoting a statement from Tehran’s Massih-Danechvari hospital.
The agency said the tests were carried out on “61 players and technical staff” at the request of the Tehran club.
Esteghlal, twice Asian champions, are sixth in the Iranian league which resumed play on June 25 after a four-month break due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Irna also reported that the president of Foolad Ahvaz, a club from the south-western city of Ahvaz, confirmed on Saturday that 16 club staff, including 11 players, had tested positive.
Iran is the most severely affected country in the region and, after a phase of decline, the disease has been on the rise again since the beginning of May.