Coronavirus outbreak forces cancellation of football leagues

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Coronavirus outbreak forces cancellation of football leagues

(BARBADOS TODAY) — Elite football in Britain has been suspended until at least April 3 as a result of the spread of coronavirus.

All games in England’s Premier League, EFL, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship, plus in Scotland,Wales and Northern Ireland, are postponed.

The Premier League said play will start on April 4 subject to “conditions at the time”.

Additionally, football in France and Germany’s top-two divisions has also been suspended immediately because of coronavirus.

The German Football League (DFL) said there were “suspicions of a coronavirus infection in the vicinity of several clubs and their teams and that further infections cannot be ruled out”.

The DFL recommended a Bundesliga 1 and 2 suspension until 2 April.

FA chairman Greg Clarke is known to have expressed his fear at today’s emergency meeting that the season may have to be abandoned.

England’s international friendly matches against Italy on March 27 and Denmark four days later are off.

The EFL, which hopes to resume play a day earlier than the Premier League on April 3, said clubs were also advised to suspend “non-essential activities” such as “player appearances, training ground visits and fan meetings”.

The Euro 2020 play-offs have also moved closer to being postponed after FIFA recommended that all impending internationals should be called off.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic are all scheduled to play their semi-finals on March 26, with the finals five days later.

This weekend’s Bundesliga games were due to be played behind closed doors with a suspension starting on Monday, but the DFL announced the postponement of all games on Friday.

“The goal is still to end the season by the summer – from a sporting point of view, but especially because an early end of the season could have existential consequences for some clubs,” the DFL statement added.

Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) – French football’s governing body – suspended all Ligue 1 and 2 games earlier on Friday.

LFP said the decision was made “unanimously” by the board of directors on Friday and added, “collective interest must be placed above everything”.

“The urgency today is to curb the epidemic, protect the most vulnerable, and avoid displacement,” a statement said.

Late yesterday it was announced Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had tested positive for the virus, and early on Friday Chelsea striker Callum Hudson-Odoi revealed he had been affected, while Everton say a first-team player has shown symptoms.

Earlier this week, several clubs – including Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester City, Bournemouth, Manchester City, Juventus and Real Madrid – revealed they have either all or some of their playing staff in self-isolation.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: “In this unprecedented situation, we are working closely with our clubs, government, the FA and EFL and can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority.”

The Premier League said its “aim is to reschedule the displaced fixtures”, while the Football Association said “all parties are committed at this time to trying to complete this season’s domestic fixture programme”.

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