"It's better to hold games behind closed doors than not play at all"

The head of UEFA talked about the ongoing consequences of the Covid-19 virus on the game and offered his view on when matches could be staged.

El presidente de la UEFA, Aleksander Ceferin.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP

President of UEFA, Aleksander Ceferin spoke to Italian daily Corriere della Sera about the latest situation facing the game in Europe as the Covid-19 virus pandemic impacts on activity on the continent. 

Finishing the season: "The key priority is the health of supporters, players and club officials and I'm somewhat optimistic that we'll be able to restart certain domestic leagues in the not too distant future. It's highly likely that games will be staged behind closed doors but it's important that games get played. In these difficult times, fans will have to watch games on television but at present we're waiting for an indication of which line of action to take from health officials".

Domestic campaigns taking priority over European competitions: "That really depends on when activity restarts and it's hoped that both can be played in parallel".

European deadline: "At present there is no deadline for both the Champions League and the Europa League to conclude".

When do you foresee international football returning: "I'd say that will happen in September".

FBL-EUR-C1-LIVERPOOL-ATLETICOAtletico Madrid's supporters wave flags before the UEFA Champions league Round of 16 second leg football match between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on March 11, 2020. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP) AFICIONADOS SEGUIDORES PUBLICADA 13/03/20 NA MA19 3COL

Playing behind closed doors: "It's inevitable that initially, fans will have to watch games on television and that is felt preferable to not games happening at all. This will be a temporary measure and in the future we'll go back to having full stadiums".

Economic impact on the game: "Domestic leagues provide a financial base for all clubs and the impact will be less severe should the competitions finish. UEFA too will suffer financially after the postponement of Euro 2020".

Flexibility relating to Financial Fair Play: This initiative has brought the game plenty of positives and the rule is in place t aid football not to operate as a hindrance but we will adopt a flexible approach".

Manchester City sanction: "This is a matter that is now being handed by the CAS (Court for Arbitration in Sport) so I can't comment on the matter".

Extend contracts and the transfer window: "At present we'll need to be more flexible relating to players and clubs and I foresee the extending of the summer transfer window as a likely option".

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