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Return of Colombian, Netherlands soccer season 'not viable'

April 22, 2020 11:02 IST
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Netherlands league season effectively over, says Dutch FA

Azax players

IMAGE: Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte banned events including professional sports and music festivals until Sept. 1 to prevent a resurgence of coronavirus infections. Photograph: Eva Plevier/Reuters

The Dutch football season was effectively ended on Tuesday after the government extended a ban on major public events by three months, the Dutch football association (KNVB) said in a statement.

The KNVB said it would not continue efforts to try to complete the 2019-20 campaign, but would first consult with European football’s governing body, UEFA, which has been pushing member countries to try to finish their seasons.

 

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday banned events including professional sports and music festivals until Sept. 1 to prevent a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

“No professional football can be played, even without an audience, until Sept. 1. As a result, the board of professional football intends not to continue playing the 2019/20 league,” the KNVB said.

“Based on the government’s decision today, the KNVB will consult with UEFA after which a decision will be confirmed.

“On Friday, the clubs and other parties involved will meet to discuss the consequences.”

There has been much debate in the country in recent weeks about the possibility of resuming the season, which was suspended last month, polarising opinion in the football community.

“That the events requiring a permit remain prohibited until September 1 now offers clarity,” said the KNVB.

The Dutch follow neighbours Belgium, who had already cancelled their season, but ran into criticism from UEFA, who warned them they may not be able to enter clubs in next season’s European competitions.

“Football under the auspices of the KNVB will not be played as long as the government does not consider it safe,” the KNVB statement added.

It said it had not cancelled the season earlier to avoid potential financial losses to its clubs.

“As in other parts of our economy, efforts were being made to protect the industry as much as possible against the financial consequences of the current crisis,” the statement added.

Dutch clubs face an uncertain immediate future.

Rutte said limitations on the easing of restrictive measures were necessary to prevent a new wave of COVID-19 cases. “It’s better to be cautious now than to have regrets later,” he told a televised news conference.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Netherlands rose in the past 24 hours by 729 to 34,134, health authorities said on Tuesday, with 165 new deaths from the lung disease. Total deaths stand at 3,916.

Return of Colombian soccer not viable, says president

Colombian President Ivan Duque dismissed the idea of restarting the county’s soccer league behind closed doors, saying to do so would endanger the health of players and staff.

“Explain to me how one can guarantee a competition with more than 20 teams and not one player has the coronavirus?” Duque said in a radio interview with the La FM station.

“Explain to me how one guarantees that in addition to the players and the coaching team, that in addition to them the whole support staff, the physiotherapists, the kit men, the transportation staff, that none of them has the coronavirus. It’s very difficult.”

The South American nation declared a public health emergency on March 12 and suspended all public events, including the main soccer leagues for both men and women.

Since then, Colombia has recorded almost 4000 cases of COVID-19 and 189 fatalities.

Although some European clubs have begun training again in the hope of finishing the season, the Colombian president said even talking about restarting the league without testing was neither viable nor responsible.

“It would be very irresponsible on my part to tell you that we are going to play football again behind closed doors when there are no conditions for that to happen,” Duque said.

“I have yet to see the first championship dare to say that the health of the players is totally guaranteed. It’s not viable.”

His words came a day after the Colombian Football Federation and the league organisers sent a protocol for restarting the competitions to the government for its review.

The 36 clubs in the top two tiers have warned they face financial ruin due to lost income from crowd money and TV contracts.

Duque said he had asked his sports minister to listen to the clubs “because we also want to see sustainable resolutions.”

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