On Friday morning UEFA announced that all of next week’s European fixtures will be postponed as the European governing body prepares to brace for the long-term effects of the COVID-19 viral pandemic.
UEFA is meeting next week to discuss the possibility of postponing this summer’s EURO 2020 tournament to next summer, and calling off any fixtures next week was a necessary first step towards a longer-term strategy.
The news means second-leg Champions League Round of 16 games between Manchester City and Real Madrid, Juventus and Lyon, Barcelona and Napoli, and Bayern and Chelsea have all been pushed back to an undetermined date. Also included in the blanket sweep are a swath of Europa League Round of 16 games that include Wolves, Manchester United, Inter, and many others. Both Wolves and Manchester United took part in matches on Friday, with Wolves drawing Olympiakos 1-1 and Manchester United hammering LASK 5-0. Italian clubs Roma and Inter both had their first leg matches postponed earlier this week with Italy one of the hardest hit countries by the coronavirus in the world.
Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis being diagnosed with coronavirus, causing the club to test its entire staff and squad, but all came back negative. In addition, Juventus player Daniele Rugani tested positive for the virus, along with Chelsea player Callum Hudson-Odoi.
The postponement also includes UEFA Youth League matches with the competition meant to be playing quarterfinal games next week. Clubs like Real Madrid, Ajax, Lyon, Dinamo Zagreb, and RB Salzburg are all still in the competition at this stage, while Juventus and Inter have yet to take part in their scheduled Round of 16 matches.
UEFA is considering postponing Euro 2020 this summer, which would give domestic leagues the opportunity to extend club matches through the summer in a bid to finish league competition without cramming an enormous amount of fixtures into a few months, putting significant strain on players’ bodies. It would also, however, clog the international window next summer with 2022 World Cup qualifying also meant to be played. It is possible the UEFA Nations League would have to be sacrificed in order to make the scheduling work.
More coronavirus connections to soccer:
- Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi is the first Premier League player to test positive for coronavirus.
- Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta also tested posted for coronavirus and the players and staff at the club are self-isolating.
- MLS announced its 2020 season is suspended for at least 30 days.
- Three Leicester City players are in self-isolation after displaying symptoms of coronavirus.
- Sampdoria and Italy striker Manolo Gabbiadini tests positive for coronavirus.
- Real Madrid players in isolation and La Liga games suspended for the next two weeks after Real basketball player tests positive for coronavirus.
- Serie A is considering alternative ways to conclude its scudetto and relegation races, including playoffs or the non-awarding of a champion.
- Juventus confirm that their defender Daniele Rugani has tested positive for coronavirus.
- Sevilla v. Roma and Inter Milan v. Getafe postponed in the UEFA Europa League due to travel restrictions between Spain and Italy.