Will Champions League and Europa League be cancelled by coronavirus outbreak?
The coronavirus outbreak has escalated into a full-blown pandemic that has inevitably affected the football world, with Europe's top flight domestic leagues to be suspended and Champions League and Europa League matches to be delayed indefinitely.
With the coronavirus now having spread through a number of European clubs, there is a worry that it the epidemic is still set to reach its devastating peak within a few weeks or months.
Even with domestic leagues such as the Premier League and Serie A suspended until early April, there is no guarantee that the virus will be done rearing its ugly head then, and further postponements of matches are still very likely.
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So could the Champions League and Europa League be cancelled as a result?
- Will the Champions League & Europa League be cancelled?
- Could the UCL & UEL be postponed instead?
- How will next year's UCL & UEL participants be decided?
- Which UCL and UEL games have been postponed?
UEFA is facing serious pressure to cancel both the Champions League and the Europa League in their entirety in order to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
While a few Champions League last 16 and Europa League last 32 fixtures were first played behind closed doors to no fans the week of March 10 – such as Paris Saint Germain vs Borussia Dortmund and LASK vs Man Utd – both European competitions could be scrapped in their entirety.
Bayern vs Chelsea and Barcelona vs Napoli were initially meant to be played behind closed doors, but UEFA released a statement on Friday March 13 that all European club ties have been postponed indefinitely to prevent further spread of Covid-19.
No details have been made for when the games could be rescheduled for.
In a statement released on Friday, UEFA said: “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.
“This includes the remaining UEFA Champions League, round of 16 second-leg matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020; all UEFA Europa League, round of 16 second-leg matches scheduled on 19 March 2020; all UEFA Youth League, quarter-final matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020."
Before the statement was released, Manchester City vs Real Madrid was called off after the Spanish side went into self-quarantine when one of their basketball players tested positive for coronavirus, and Juventus vs Lyon was postponed after Daniele Rugani tested positive.
UEFA also stated that the Champions League and Europa League quarter-finals draws scheduled for March 20 have been delayed.
There is no word about when the postponed European fixtures will be played, but with the likes of the Premier League, Ligue 1, Serie A and La Liga all being suspended, it is difficult to see when the football calendar would allow for such rescheduling.
UEFA are set to hold a conference on Tuesday, March 17 to discuss how best to proceed with the rest of the football calendar – such as all domestic and European tournaments as well as Euro 2020 – while still monitoring the Covid-19 situation.
Euro 2020 is at risk of being cancelled entirely or postponed until the summer of 2021, which would make room for domestic competitions to fulfil the rest of their seasons in June and July instead.
This, however, would still pose a logistical problem for the Champions League and Europa League, who will find difficulty in rescheduling their matches.
Should both competitions be rendered null and void, there are questions raised about what would happen to the spots given to the winners of each competition.
The winner of this season's Champions League would automatically qualify for next season's edition, regardless of their domestic league finish.
And the Europa League champion would then earn automatic qualification to next year's Champions League, also regardless of trheir domestic league finish.
It would be a concern for a club such as Manchester United, for example, who could have finished below a Champions League spot in the Premier League but gone on to win the Europa League – which is what they did in 2017.
Obviously, cancellations of both tournaments would have significant ripple effects across all of Europe.
Inter vs Getafe and Sevilla vs Roma were already called off before UEFA's announcement on March 13, but all future Champions League & Europa League matches are now suspended indefinitely.
|March 12||Inter vs Getafe|
|March 12||Sevilla vs Roma|
|March 17||Manchester City vs Real Madrid|
|March 17||Juventus vs Lyon|
|March 18||Bayern Munich vs Chelsea|
|March 18||Barcelona vs Napoli|
|March 19||Copenhagen vs Istanbul Basaksehir|
|March 19||Wolves vs Olympiacos|
|March 19||Bayer Leverkusen|
|March 19||Shakhtar Donetsk vs Wolfsburg|
|March 19||Getafe vs Inter|
|March 19||Roma vs Sevilla|
|March 19||Basel vs Frankfurt|
|March 19||Man Utd vs LASK|