The Champions League should NOT be played this season, says Borussia Dortmund chief Michael Zorc
Champions League and Europa League matches are not safe to take place because of the high rate of coronavirus in some cities, claims Borussia Dortmund chief Michael Zorc.
UEFA are set to make the group stage draws for both competitions on Thursday and Friday but Zorc has raised concerns about the risks to domestic football seasons if clubs are forced to travel to high-risk areas and then return with infected players or staff.
Earlier in the year, Atletico Madrid’s visit to play Liverpool at Anfield and Valencia’s trip to Milan to face Atalanta were blamed for causing mass outbreaks of Covid-19 in England, Spain and Italy. The latter game has even been described as a ‘biological bomb’.
Last season’s Champions League was completed with a series of one-off ties in Portugal while Germany hosted the latter stages of the Europa League, after the resumption of the season following lockdown.
UEFA also took steps to increase safety during qualification for this season’s competitions, with each tie played as a single-legged match hosted by one of the teams, decided by a draw, until the final play-off round.
There are also rules for the competition proper designed to ensure teams do not have to play in the most high-risk areas.
If there are government-imposed travel restrictions that prevent the away team from entering the home team’s country or returning to their own country, the match may be played at either a neutral country or the away team’s country, according to UEFA’s rules.
Zorc, however, insisted that these rules are not sufficient.
‘Really, we are still missing the legal requirements to be able to play these games at all,’ Zorc told the Frankfurter Allegemine.
‘If we play in a high-risk area on the Wednesday, which will probably be the case in more than half of the major cities involved, then there needs to be some foundations in place so that we can play in the Bundesliga again on Saturday.’
Matches in the Premier League and LaLiga are still being played behind closed doors but some European leagues have had a small number of supporters in stadiums.
Last week’s UEFA Super Cup between Bayern Munich and Sevilla took place in front of 20,000 fans in Budapest, despite there being a relatively high number of infections in the Hungarian capital.
German authorities warned Bayern fans they would be walking into danger, with the Bundesliga side returning two-thirds of their ticket allocation.
Zorc is not convinced it is safe for clubs to play the group-stage matches under the current rising coronavirus rate.
UEFA’s website currently says ‘games are taking place behind closed doors until further notice’ with the Champions League group stage set to run from October 20 to December 9 and the Europa League from October 22 to December 10.