With only hours to go before the Bundesliga becomes the first major European football league to restart since the suspension of most professional sport due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, all eyes will be turned to Germany to see how the situation is managed and handled. Aleksander Čeferin, the President of UEFA, spoke to beIN SPORTS this week about the current climate and how UEFA is assessing the state of the game.
“In principle we trust Germans. We think that their authorities are very serious,” Čeferin says over a video call, “I think it’s a good sign. You know, it’s not only about football. It’s about people being depressed because we are locked down because there is so much uncertainty. And football brings life to its usual level. Football brings positive energy. It’s easier to be at home if you can watch sports.”
With various other leagues uncertain over how and when they can restart their own competitions, the decision and development in Germany is a welcome relief and something that Čeferin thinks everyone can rally around and mirror.
“I think it’s a great gesture of great cooperation between the German league and German government, and I hope and I think they will be very successful.”
Both the English Premier League and Italian Serie A have faced difficulties in coming to an agreement between government entities, sporting bodies, clubs, and players. Clubs in Spain have only just been allowed to resume training, and even then only under strict conditions. No decision has yet been made about the exact date of resumption for La Liga, with five players in the league recently testing positive for Coronavirus.
Roughly two weeks from the originally slated date for the 2020 Champions League Final, Čeferin was bullish about being able to finish the European football season. The final major point of discussion was the European Championships, which had been scheduled to run from 12 June to 12 July 2020, with the opening game to take place in Rome as Italy welcomed Turkey. The decision to postpone the tournament for a year was made in mid-March, and while no concrete plans have been announced, Čeferin is sure the competition will be held in the same format, in the same venues.
“In principle, the idea is that we stay in the same cities. For now, we have had conversations. With 9 cities, everything is set. With 3 cities we have some issues so we will discuss further. We will in principle do it in 12 cities, but if not, we are ready to do it in 10, 9, or 8.”
Questions remain over the wisdom of such ambition, with concerns of logistics and safety on the forefront of any discussion and debate. For now, it appears the UEFA and their President are of the mindset that things will go back to normal when everything goes back to normal, and it is only a matter of time before we get to that point.