BEVERLY HILLS, May 07, (THEWILL) – As much as the scourge of the coronavirus appears to be fading, it is continuing to have some impactful consequences for sporting activities and events around the world.
On Thursday, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA postponed the African qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™️ that were due to be played in June 2021 due to disruptions occasioned by the pandemic
On Friday, negotiations started between the UK Government and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) over concerns of staging the upcoming UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul, Turkey, after the country was added to the UK’s “red list” for COVID-19 travel restrictions.
It adds to the intense pressure UEFA is under to move the event to a different venue, preferably to England, to cut off the need for travel for the two finalists Chelsea and Manchester City, both of which are from the English Premier League.
Much of this comes on the heels of the Friday confirmation from Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, that travel to Turkey should now only be made in extreme circumstances. The confirmation stressed that anyone who decided to take a trip to Turkey, including players, would be required to isolate in a hotel upon their return at a cost of £1,750 to them.
Furthermore, it stipulated that each player involved in the game on May 29 would have to be isolated until June 9. That takes the period of isolation to two days before the European Championships are set to kick off, which will be damning for any player intending to join in the Euro games.
In the ongoing negotiations, the UK Government have again offered to be allowed to host the final and, as a result, eliminate the need for any travel. As yet, it remains unclear which stadium the UK would offer up.
The Wembley stadium could have been the obvious choice but it is set to host the Championship play-off final on the same day. Unless the EFL agree to move the fixture, it will be unavailable to host the UCL final. However, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium may be a more-likely venue, if the negotiations sail through.
Yet, there is one major problem with moving the final to England: anyone coming in from overseas, including UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, would be forced to quarantine before and after the match as per regulations.
This sticking point is causing UEFA to consider the idea of moving the final to another neutral venue. UEFA is looking at other countries which are not on England’s red list, one of which is Poland, which will host the Europa League final three days, on May 26 at the Stadion Miejski in Gdańsk.
It is also possible that UEFA may also choose to stick to their guns and leave the final to be played in Istanbul, where they hope to welcome around 25,000 fans to the event, in person. Organisation rules state that the final must be moved if it is impacted by a travel ban, but it is unclear whether a ten-day isolation period would be counted as such.