UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin told ESPN that a decision on whether to allow some spectators into the Champions’ League final phase matches to be played in Portugal in August will be announced by July 9.
“We are assessing the situation and will continue to do so until July 9 and then we will decide whether it will be possible to play with some spectators,” Ceferin said. “By that date we will have the medical protocol in place and the draw will be the next day. We can’t leave it later than that because our events team needs time to prepare and, of course, organising it without fans is very different than organising a tournament with spectators.”
“As of right now, there would be no spectators,” he added. “But we need to flexible and we are literally assessing things day by day. The situation in Portugal and in Germany [where the Europa League final stages will be played] is quite stable right now.”
Earlier this week, some lockdown measures were reintroduced in part of Lisbon as a result of a spike in cases, but the Portuguese government is providing reassurances.
“I spoke to the Prime Minister of Portugal yesterday and he told me that while they’re having more cases than before it’s also because they are testing more relative to some other countries where they don’t test as much,” Ceferin said. “But the reality is that we have to remain flexible… in our jobs and in our lives.”
Ceferin also indicated that UEFA’s position, after consulting stakeholders, will likely be against a major overhaul of the International Match Calendar, the master document that coordinates club and national team football around the globe. The current agreement expires in 2024, but a new one will need to be in place in the next year or two. With talk of new club and international competitions — such as a biennial expanded Club World Cup and potentially a Global Nations League — speculation in some quarters has been that things will look very different come 2024. UEFA are one of six confederations represented on the FIFA Council who will need to reach an agreement.
“It will be an interesting discussion, if I am to be diplomatic,” he said. “We want to keep the club competitions and the number of national team matches we have now and that means there is no space for new competitions. So I think the calendar post-24 will look quite similar to what it is now. But it will be an interesting discussion, because you have to swim among different interests: -clubs, associations, confederations – as well as different time zones and weather conditions around the world. It’s a tough task but I think we will come to a solution that in the end will be quite similar to what it is today.”
“But for now, my feeling is we shouldn’t change things radically. We should adjust a few things and see what we can do to make the burden on players as low as possible.”