Deccan Chronicle

UEFA eases stance on leagues that want to end season without completing games

Deccan Chronicle | DC Correspondent

Published on: April 22, 2020 | Updated on: April 22, 2020

Belgium had been the first top-tier league this month to say it wanted to declare its current standings final

European football association

European football association

Geneva: UEFA softened its tone Tuesday toward competition organizers who want to end seasons early before completing all games -- with some governments set to take those decisions out of soccer's hands.

UEFA's declaration that "special cases'' may not face any sanctions came just hours before the Dutch government extended a ban on large-scale events in the Netherlands until Sept. 1 -- effectively ending the country's top-level soccer season.

With no clear end in sight for European soccer's shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic, Belgium had been the first top-tier league this month to say it wanted to declare its current standings final.

That prompted a quick response from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, who warned that countries risked losing Champions League and Europa League entries if they took premature decisions.

However, the announcement Tuesday by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte showed the limit of soccer officials' authority.

The Dutch soccer federation published a statement saying it planned to end the 2019-20 season and would consult with UEFA.

The Eredivisie league said clubs would speak Friday "about the consequences of the decision.'' When the league was halted, Ajax topped the standings ahead of AZ Alkmaar on goal difference, with both set to advance to the Champions League qualifying rounds.

Earlier Tuesday, UEFA had hosted talks with its 55 member federations and toned down its previous directive to "a strong recommendation" to try to complete domestic seasons.

UEFA's new stance is that "some special cases will be heard.''

"With this in mind, UEFA is currently developing some guidelines concerning participation in its club competitions, in order to assist its member associations in case of a canceled league or cup,'' Europe's soccer body said in a statement. An executive committee on Thursday can confirm those guidelines.

Belgian officials were set to resume talks Friday when UEFA's position is clearer.

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