Champions League, Premier League, Bundesliga halted by coronavirus

Must read

All major European football leagues have now been suspended after the German Bundesliga joined the Premier League in calling off their league programmes in the worsening coronavirus crisis.

European football governing body UEFA also effectively suspended its Champions League and Europa League competitions indefinitely on Friday by postponing all last 16 second leg ties scheduled for next week.

“In the light of developments due to the spread of COVID-19 in Europe and related decisions made by different governments, all UEFA club competitions matches scheduled next week are postponed,” a statement said.

Quarter-final draws for both competitions have also been postponed. UEFA said “decisions on when these matches take place will be communicated in due course.”

UEFA had already invited member associations and stakeholders to a video conference on Tuesday to discuss ramifications of the virus on football, including Euro 2020.

“It may be necessary that the Euros be postponed for health reasons,” said Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

The Euros are scheduled to be held in 12 countries across the continent with the June 12 opener in Rome. Italy is particularly heavily impacted by the virus.

Another reason for delay is the practicality of finishing the current domestic and European campaigns.

“If games are postponed now, then we have to push them back and then play them,” said Rummenigge. “But we don’t know how long this topic will keep us occupied.”

England’s Premier League followed suit after an emergency meeting took place in light of several clubs reporting infections or symptoms in their squad. And the Bundesliga weekend matches – initially to be played behind closed doors – were all postponed. Italy, Spain and France were top leagues to have already suspended fixtures.

A statement by the German Football League (DFL) said the course of the day made the change of plan, from playing closed door games, necessary. The background is suspected coronavirus cases at various clubs which has left second division Hanover and Nuremberg in quarantine.

A two-week break of German football is expected to be confirmed at a meeting on Monday.

The Premier League meanwhile said: “In this unprecedented situation, we are working closely with our clubs, Government, The FA (Football Association) and EFL (English Football League) and can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority,” the Premier League said.

England’s upcoming friendly internationals against Denmark and Italy this month were also postponed.

Chelsea player Callum Hudson-Odoi revealed he had the coronavirus but reassured fans about his health. Several others clubs have confirmed or suspected cases.

Scotland became one of the last countries to respond on Friday by postponing all football “until further notice,” including Sunday’s Old Firm derby between Glasgow rivals Rangers and Celtic.

Poland’s top-tier football competition is also suspended following the country’s basketball and volleyball leagues. The ice hockey league cancelled the remainder of the playoffs and end the season.

Elsewhere Formula One faces a chaotic season start after the postponement of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday was followed by similar decisions on Bahrain and Vietnam.

Mercedes’ six-time champion Lewis Hamilton tweeted support for the postponement having previously saying he found it “shocking” that the race was going ahead.

With the Chinese Grand Prix in April already postponed, F1 and the governing FIA “expect to begin the Championship in Europe on 1st May (with practice for the Netherlands Grand Prix) but given the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Europe in recent days, this will be regularly reviewed.”

Formula E, the electric race series, has stopped until at least May.

Golf’s first major of the season, the Masters tournament, has also been postponed according to Augusta National Golf Club.

“Ultimately, the health and well-being of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision,” club chairman Fred Ridley said.

“We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date.”

The Masters was scheduled to take place April 9-12. The PGA Tour had already abandoned the Players Championship after Thursday’s first round and suspended events until April 5.

The Boston Marathon, one of the world’s leading marathon events, has been postponed from April 20 to September 14.

Basketball, baseball, ice hockey and football have also been put on hold in the US, as has the men’s ATP tennis tour which had upcoming tournaments in Miami and Houston following the cancellation of this week’s Indian Wells event.

The Corona Open Gold Coast – a surfing competition in Australia sponsored by the beer brand – was cancelled along with all World Surf League’s events for the month of March.

Australia’s one-day cricket international series against New Zealand started without fans in Sydney on Friday while England cancelled their test tour of Sri Lanka.

Scotland’s Six Nations trip to Wales on Saturday was postponed along with the other fixtures in the final round of the championship.

The Indian Premier League confirmed it would delay its start to April 15 after authorities in Delhi announced that they will not allow any sporting activity in the national capital due to the health crisis.

In cycling, the classic Giro d’Italia start date is uncertain after the May 9 grand depart from Budapest was postponed. A new start will not be decided until April 3.

And the Paris-Nice race will end early with the concluding stage now Saturday.

The Olympic torch relay in Greece was abandoned after hundreds of spectators turned out at the town of Sparta, ignoring advice to stay at home because of the coronavirus.

The Greek Olympic Committee said the torch will still be handed over to the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee in Athens on Thursday.

Despite the global sporting chaos, Japan remains insistent that preparations for the Olympic Games in Tokyo for July continue to be on track. (dpa)

Copyright DAYBREAK.

All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from DAYBREAK NEWS.

More articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Latest article