Will European football’s season be moved from its traditional window?

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FIFA vice-president Victor Montagliani has said that moving the European football season to the calendar year is a “possibility to be discussed” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic which has brought football to a standstill around the world.

In an interview with Italy’s Radio Sportiva, Montagliani, who is seen as a close ally of FIFA president Gianni Infantino, said the move would fit in with the 2022 World Cup being played in Qatar in November and December.

Infantino has said that football will be totally different when it restarts and that the current stoppage could be a good chance to overhaul the overloaded calendar which is due to run until 2024.

“We have the opportunity because the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 will be played in November/December and that could be the idea,” said Montagliani, who is president of the CONCACAF confederation.

“Here in the Americas, the season is already played according to the calendar year, perhaps it is a solution that could also be used in Europe and Africa, it is a possibility to be discussed at national and continental level,” he said. “It is not an idea to be discarded, it can be a solution in view of the next two years and this winter World Cup”.

A number of European leagues, including Italy, Germany and England, still hope to finish their seasons but doing so could force the start of the 2020-21 campaign to be pushed back. UEFA also wants to finish the Champions League and Europa League.

In the UK Premier League clubs on Friday reconfirmed their commitment to finish the 2019/20 season subject to coronavirus restrictions being lifted in Britain despite fears expressed by players. The English top flight faces an eye-watering estimated loss of around £1 billion ($1.25 billion) if no more football is played due to the global pandemic.

On Friday Italy’s 20 Serie A clubs on Friday reiterated their unanimous desire to complete the season as the northern Emilia-Romagna region became the first to open the way to training despite government restrictions.

La Liga is planning to start testing players for the coronavirus next week as president Javier Tebas bids to restart the season, a league source told AFP on Thursday. “These tests must begin next week” the source told AFP, as the Spanish league’s protocol governing return to competition includes COVID-19 screening for players and coaching staff. Daily sports newspaper AS and Marca report La Liga is planning to carry out the tests between Tuesday and Thursday next week, after which they would then be able to resume individual training programmes within 48 hours.

Meanwhile Paris Saint-Germain were named as Ligue 1 champions on Thursday after France’s football league declared the coronavirus-hit season over, leaving some other clubs disappointed and pondering legal action. PSG led the table by 12 points from Marseille when the season was suspended in mid-March because of the Covid-19 outbreak, which has killed over 24,000 people in France. The announcement by the LFP happened after Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Tuesday that “professional sports leagues, notably football, cannot restart” because of the pandemic.

Meanwhile the idea of a calendar-year season has been put forward before including by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge when he was chairman of the European Club Association (ECA). “Everywhere, be it Germany, France or England, summer is the best period of the year. And that is the season we don’t play,” he told France Football magazine in a 2013 interview.

“In deepest winter, when it is very cold and snowing, we play nearly all the time in conditions that are disagreeable for both players and spectators. It is not logical.”

Reuters and other local news agencies 

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