UEFA outlines new COVID rules regarding Champions League games

The pandemic rages on across Europe. In response, UEFA has extended the dates for when Champions League games can be played this season.

It was nearly a year ago that the pandemic put a pause on sports. While the infection rate continues to climb in several European nations, UEFA decided on Tuesday to extend the dates for when Champions League matches can be contested.

As a result, Europe’s soccer governing body will now allow teams until April 2 to complete their round of 16 games after Germany placed a  limit on travel from England.

The rules are set forth in a UEFA document, known as “Annex K,” that puts the onus on clubs to make sure games are contested safely.

The Champions League round of 16 is scheduled to be completed on March 17. The quarterfinal first legs are set to start on April 6.

Liverpool’s visit to RB Leipzig on Feb. 16 for a first-leg game could be affected by the restrictions from England, where a variant of the virus has been determined to be more contagious and deadly. RB Leipzig, meanwhile, has asked for an exemption.

The Associated Press reported that UEFA will require teams to “cooperate with their national association in order to obtain from the relevant authorities exemptions from existing travel restrictions, such as border closures and quarantine requirements.”

What if the game can’t be played because of travel? UEFA said that in those cases the home team “must propose a suitable alternative venue.” That venue can be in a neutral country.

If a club refuses to properly schedule the game, UEFA will punish them by doling out an automatic 3-0 defeat.

The Champions League final is scheduled for May 29 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Last year, after the Champions League was put on hold, the tournament returned in August. The knockout round was played in a bubble in Portugal, where Bayern Munich defeated PSG to win the trophy.

The Champions League isn’t the only tournament that has seen modifications because of COVID-19. UEFA said recently that it is committed to hosting this summer’s European Championship in 12 different cities. The tournament, originally scheduled for 2020, was postponed to this year.

The Summer Olympics, meanwhile, could see another delay (it was also supposed to he held last summer) or even be canceled as Tokyo officials scramble to ensure the multi-sport event can be held safely.

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