Liverpool have been denied entry to Germany ahead of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 first-leg clash with RB Leipzig on Feb. 16.
The decision comes after RB Leipzig appealed, on Liverpool’s behalf, for special exemption to enter the country after new travel restrictions were put in place by the German government last weekend. The new guidelines prohibit incoming visitors originating from countries with high numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants — for example, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Brazil and South Africa all fall into this grouping.
The current set of restrictions are set to run through Feb. 17 and though the German government has said it is willing to make exceptions, a statement released on Thursday states that “special regulations for professional athletes” are not included and have therefore been denied.
“The Corona Protection Ordinance passed by the German government last Friday provides for only a few exceptions and no special regulations for professional athletes.
“The Federal Police informed the club RB Leipzig today that the described case constellation does not fall under the exceptions.”
According to our partners at Sky Sports, UEFA has stepped in to engage the German government in an attempt to find a solution. If an agreement cannot be reached, the onus could then be on RB Leipzig to find a neutral site — one where Liverpool will be granted entry — to host the fixture.
There are also other options regarding what comes next. Thanks to a recent pandemic-induced change to UEFA’s competition rules, the first leg could be moved to Anfield (whether both legs would be played in England, or if they would simply switch home dates, is unknown); the two-legged tie could also be reduced to a single leg.