UEFA in­sists ‘no Plan B’ for Cham­pi­ons League amid Lis­bon virus con­cerns

Arab News - - Sport News - AFP Lau­sanne

UEFA in­sists there is “no rea­son to pre­pare a Plan B” for the fi­nal eight of the Cham­pi­ons League in Lis­bon de­spite Por­tuguese au­thor­i­ties rein­tro­duc­ing re­stric­tions to curb the spread of coro­n­avirus. “We hope ev­ery­thing will be fine and that it will be pos­si­ble to or­ga­nize the tour­na­ment in Por­tu­gal. For the mo­ment there is no rea­son to pre­pare a Plan B,” a UEFA spokesper­son told AFP.

The spokesper­son added that Euro­pean foot­ball's gov­ern­ing body is in “con­stant con­tact with the Por­tuguese Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion and the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.” UEFA an­nounced ear­lier this month that the lat­ter stages of the Cham­pi­ons League would be staged ex­cep­tion­ally as a straight knock­out com­pe­ti­tion from the quar­ter­fi­nals on­wards with all matches in Lis­bon.

Ear­lier this month, UEFA Pres­i­dent Alek­sander Ce­ferin said: “For now things look well, and we hope ev­ery­thing will be fine un­til we or­ga­nize the fi­nal eight.”

He added: “We are as­sess­ing the sit­u­a­tion, not week by week but day by day, and we will adapt when the time comes, if nec­es­sary.” Por­tu­gal had not suf­fered to the same ex­tent as other western Euro­pean coun­tries dur­ing the pan­demic but last week Por­tuguese Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nio Costa an­nounced that some coro­n­avirus re­stric­tions would be reim­posed in and around the cap­i­tal to help con­trol fresh out­breaks.

From Wed­nes­day, 19 neigh­bor­hoods on the north­ern edges of Lis­bon will go back into lock­down. Gath­er­ings will be lim­ited to a max­i­mum of five peo­ple in these ar­eas, com­pared to 10 peo­ple in the wider Lis­bon area and 20 peo­ple across the rest of Por­tu­gal.

The fi­nal eight is due to be­gin with the first quar­ter­fi­nal on Aug. 12, with the fi­nal sched­uled for Aug. 23. Matches will be played at Ben­fica's Es­ta­dio da Luz and the nearby Es­ta­dio Jose Al­valade, home of Sport­ing.

Atletico Madrid, Paris Sain­tGer­main, RB Leipzig and Ata­lanta all qual­i­fied for the quar­ter­fi­nals be­fore the com­pe­ti­tion sus­pended in March.

The re­main­ing last 16, sec­ond legs are: Ju­ven­tus vs. Lyon; Manch­ester City vs. Real Madrid; Bay­ern Mu­nich vs. Chelsea and Barcelona vs. Napoli.

It is hoped those matches — set for Aug. 7 and 8 — will not need to be played on neu­tral ground but they could also be moved to Por­tu­gal, with UEFA stand­ing by to spread the matches around the coun­try, in Lis­bon as well as in the north­ern cities of Porto and Guimaraes.

Ce­ferin has ad­mit­ted that it is un­likely any of the matches will be played in front of crowds but said UEFA would re­assess the sit­u­a­tion in July.

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Alek­sander Cere­fin

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