FIFA’s medical committee chairman, Michel D’Hooghe, says he believes football should not resume until September at the earliest because of the coronavirus pandemic.
D’Hooghe, speaking to Sky Sports, described the pandemic as the “most dramatic situation we have lived in since the Second World War.”
Asked if he would recommend football not returning before September, he said, “That is my personal opinion. The world is not ready for competitive football. I hope this can change very quickly, and I sincerely hope it, but it’s not the case today. Today, you need more patience.”
“Football remains always a contact sport, and one of the first things that everybody says is that you should avoid contact for the moment,” D’Hooghe added. “So football can only be possible if contacts can be possible again.”
UEFA has given European domestic leagues a May 25 deadline to provide details on if and how they can complete their seasons.
On Tuesday, France became the latest country to announce that the 2019-20 season is over, with no sporting events allowed until at least September. The Netherlands, Belgium and Argentina also have done so.
La Liga president Javier Tebas questioned the decision made by France to end their competition early.
“I don’t understand why there would be more danger in playing football behind closed doors, following La Liga’s precautionary measures, than working in a factory or in an assembly line,” he said. “If important economic sectors cannot restart, in a safe and controlled manner, they could end up disappearing. That could happen to professional football. In other countries, teams are already training. That’s the example to follow.”
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La Liga received a boost late Tuesday afternoon, with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announcing that professional teams can begin individual training May 4. However, La Liga’s protocol, which was presented last week to the government, has yet to be approved by the health authorities.
Italy, the first league to halt competition because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 9, has yet to give the green light for the competition to resume, despite Serie A clubs recently voting unanimously to complete the campaign.