Rubiales: "The Champions League could adopt the Final 4 format"
RFEF president Luis Rubiales spoke to FOX Sports Mexico: "UEFA are not considering cancelling the Champions League or the Europa League".
President of the Spanish Football Federation Luis Rubiales was interviewed by FOX Sports Mexico, in which he was asked about the ideas being put forward to reorganise the fixtures calendar which has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. One of the options being considered is to change the format of the last stages of the Champions League, adopting the same format used in the equivalent basketball tournament, the Euroleague, in which the last four teams proceed to the Final Four.
How is this break in competition affecting the players? “In my opinion, it has affected them quite a lot. They lose the instinctive ability to work as part of a group and that's something which they will need to get back into the swing of doing. There's talk of the pre-season but we've had three weeks or thereabouts without competition but if this situation is prolonged, it could go into and beyond the pre-season. Footballers normally get between three to four weeks' holidays in the summer. If they lose contact with their team mates for a lengthy period of time, they'll also see their fitness levels drops. Training alone is fine but it is not the same as battling for the ball with someone else, you don't have that physical side which you get playing with others and then there is the competition side, playing matches. Some have proposed playing LaLiga matches every 48 hours, the players' associations have said they are prepared to be flexible in looking for solutions but we were quite surprised by that option because we don't think it's viable. We are looking at every option”.
International games which were due to be played in June have been postponed to accommodate other competitions: “The priority is finishing the domestic leagues and after that there will be dates where we can made up for lost time and push for those national team games to be rescheduled”.
Is it true that one idea is to change this year's Champions League to a Final Four format? “Nothing is being ruled out, no doors are being closed. What we need to do is find a healthy solution. Everyone is keen for the tournament to be completed but only if we can guarantee that we will be completely protected”.
There is no atmosphere when matches are played behind closed doors: “We have that situation with the Copa del Rey final. There are just two teams left in the competition, Athletic and Real Sociedad. We would love the game to be played in front of their fans, it has all the ingredients of being a wonderful match, it will be a real spectacle and we will try to explore every route to ensure it's a success. If it doesn't turn out like we hope, it won't be for a lack o trying”.
In Germany, Schalke have returned o training: “That is something which is not possible in Spain right now because we are in a state of emergency. We have to be responsible and set an example for everyone else. Until the government gives the go-ahead for training to resume, we cannot do anything”.
Can the Final Four format of the Spanish Super Cup be used for the Champions League? “It's an option because the longer we go on like this, the less dates are available and so we have to start using our imagination. We have a director of competitions who is a remarkable guy, we have our General Secretary... we are all looking for solutions and when the moment arrives, the Executive Committee will cast their vote about what needs to be done with the leagues. Everything will be voted on”.
Has the possibility that the Champions League and Europa League could be cancelled occurred to you? “No, not at the moment. If this is a marathon, a 42 kilometre race, we are only at the 30 kilometre stage and it wouldn't be fair to put everyone back to the starting line. The plan is to resume the competition from where we left it and then finish it - but calmly, we are not going to rush into things. Some hope competition will return whatever the cost but the plan which UEFA and the RFEF have in mind is to finish those competitions when we are able to”.
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