Most of the uncertainty surrounding football these days regards how and/or when the season might come back and/or end. There’s the whole thing with the international competitions coming up too, what with the Euros slated to start in the middle of June this year. If the Premier League season were to come back, it would potentially butt up against that tournament unless they crammed games into weeks to have it finish on time, if they even come back on their anticipated date of April 4.
Despite the ever changing landscape of the pandemic, FIFA was not set to meet until this coming Tuesday to decide what to do about the summer tournaments - and beyond - but have released a statement as of Sunday.
“In light of the current situation concerning the Coronavirus, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has decided that the general football rules which normally oblige clubs to release players for national team matches will not apply for the up-coming international windows in March/April,” FIFA said in the statement.
“The situation is rapidly evolving across the world and various international travel restrictions have already been imposed by different public authorities.
“FIFA understands that to hold the matches under current circumstances might not only present potential health risks to players (and to the general public) but would also, most likely, compromise the sporting integrity of such matches insofar as certain teams may be deprived of their best squads whilst others may not.
“To avoid any unnecessary health risks and also situations of potential sporting unfairness, we therefore recommend that all international matches previously scheduled to take place in March and April should now be postponed until such time that they can take place in a safe and secure environment, both for players and for the general public. The final decision on this issue rests with the respective competition organisers or relevant member association in case of friendlies.
“The qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup in both Asia and South America have already been postponed following consultation between FIFA and the confederations concerned.
“In consultation with the confederations and relevant stakeholders, FIFA will be studying the possibilities for re-scheduling any postponed matches and is confident that with goodwill and flexibility from all sides, appropriate solutions will be found to allow the matches to take place in due course and with minimal disruption.
“We are working in close cooperation with relevant national and international public health authorities (most notably the World Health Organisation) and, taking into account the expert advice that we have received on the matter, we consider this measure and recommendation to be the most appropriate and responsible step to take under the current circumstances.”
So there is no guidance for the summer tournaments, naturally, but the international breaks coming up will definitely be postponed in some fashion, as most football leagues have completely shut down. They’re right in intimating that to continue on with international football would detrimental to everyone involved - countries and fans alike - at this time when literally the best thing anyone can do is stay home.
That being said, this statement is simply a recommendation - one that the leagues would be prudent to adhere to, and probably gives a window into what FIFA and UEFA are thinking about regarding the upcoming Euros. Even though the event is in June, expect that also to be postponed as the situations in Europe are like to change rapidly in the coming days, weeks, and months.