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Lisbon Covid-19 spike won’t halt Champions League

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin has stated that the Champions League will continue in Portugal as planned, despite a Covid-19 spike in Lisbon that could derail the elite club football competition.

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin has stated that the Champions League will continue in Portugal as planned, despite a Covid-19 spike in Lisbon that could derail the elite club football competition.

Portugal was chosen as the destination to stage the conclusion of the Champions League in August, with the major competition having been postponed since March due to Covid-19.

However, from July 1st, a setback has seen 19 neighbourhoods north of Portugal’s host city Lisbon going back into lockdown, with gatherings limited to just five people.

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa held discussions with Čeferin, as well as Portuguese Football Federation (PFF) President Fernando Gomes via video call on June 30th before the mini-tournament gets underway in August.

“I would like to thank the Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa for his dedication to this project and the work he is doing alongside the Portuguese Football Federation to ensure that Portugal delivers a successful tournament,” Čeferin said in a statement.

“I am confident that with the continued and constant collaboration between all stakeholders, we will conclude the season in a positive way in Lisbon. There is no need for a ‘Plan B’.”

At this stage, the Champions League restart will take place as planned on the following dates, as single-leg knockout ties will decide this year’s winner:

August 7-8: Round of 16 second legs
August 12-15: Quarter-finals (Lisbon)
August 18-19: Semi-finals (Lisbon)
August 23: Final (Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Lisbon)

Champions League ties from the quarter-finals onwards will be split between Benfica’s Stadium of Light and Sporting Lisbon’s Estádio José Alvalade.

The final-eight part of the tournament will begin from August 12, with some fixtures still to be decided. Half of the round of 16 ties have been completed – Paris Saint-Germain, Atlético Madrid, RB Leipzig and Atalanta made it through to the quarter-finals.

The round of 16 second legs yet to be played are Juventus vs Lyon (0-1), Manchester City vs Real Madrid (2-1), Bayern vs Chelsea (3-0) and Barcelona vs Napoli (1-1). Venues for the remaining Round of 16 contests have not been confirmed yet.

Liam Watson is a Senior Journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on international football policy, industry matters and industry 4.0

Football Victoria provides update to football community

Football Victoria (FV) have released an update to the Victorian football community on Friday.

In a letter from FV CEO Peter Filopoulos and FV President Kimon Taliadoros, the governing body thanked the community and those who have supported the game during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Firstly, on behalf of Football Victoria, we would like to take this time to thank you for doing all you can to help your fellow Victorians during this unprecedented period. It has been a time like no other and never before has our community been so determined to do the right thing,” FV said in the letter.

“The efforts made by the entire football family allowed us to get many of our competitions back onto the pitch – or within days of returning in metropolitan areas, before the return of Stage 3 lockdown. It was an extraordinary collective community effort.

“Football has been greatly supported by the State Government, Sport and Recreation Victoria, Vicsport, our 79 Local Government Areas and a range of other stakeholders, who did all they could to provide support and ensure that football could resume at the appropriate time. Likewise, our commercial partners have stood with us every step of the way.”

The organisation provided details in regards to its refund policy for the season and will assist vulnerable clubs in securing government relief packages.

“We are very close to finalising the FV refund policy for our portion of participants fees. Emergency committees of football stakeholders have been created to work through the incredibly complex matrix of issues. We are working with clubs to ensure their input in developing a reasonable, transparent and fair FV refund policy. Each individual club will need then to take into account their own circumstances when developing their own club refund policy.

“We will be continuing to consult directly with clubs in coming weeks, all of which face significant challenges. We will make sure clubs are aware of any government relief packages available and will continue to provide assistance in unlocking funding opportunities. We are also working very closely with the state government to ensure opportunities for facilities funding are maximised at this time.”

Data collected by the Australian Sports Federation (ASF) of 2,700 sporting clubs around Australia, estimated a total loss of up to $1.5 billion due to the current crisis.

“This is not some imaginary, ‘worst case scenario’ projection. This is right here, right now. After six months with hardly any football, our sport and the clubs that play it are on the edge.”

The governing body did restate its intention to have competitive football played before the end of the year, if possible to do so.

“Even though the situation changes week-to-week, we remain determined to get the ball rolling this year.”

“Football will survive and it will again thrive. And when it does, we promise to be ready, just as we know our football community will be,” FV concluded.

$1.5 Billion FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan Approved

FIFA

The Bureau of the FIFA Council has approved the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan regulations which aim to financially support member associations during the pandemic.

$1.5 billion USD ($2.1 billion AUD), will be made available by the international governing body to assist the member associations and confederations.

Each member association will receive a $1 million USD universal solidarity grant. An extra $500,000 USD will be provided which can only be used for women’s football.

The six football confederations will also receive $2 million USD each, these grants will be received by the organisations by January 2021.

As a part of the plan member associations will also be able to apply for interest free loans of up to 35 per cent of their annual revenues. FIFA has set a maximum loan limit of five million dollars. Confederations will be able to apply for loan of up to four million dollars.

FIFA said that clear loan repayment conditions are laid out in the regulations along with strict compliance and audit requirements.

“This relief plan is a great example of football’s solidarity and commitment in such unprecedented times,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

“I would like to thank my colleagues of the Bureau of the Council for approving the decision to move forward with such an important initiative for the benefit of all member associations and confederations.”

With the funds provided FIFA believes that member associations will be able to restart competitions, re-hire staff and pay any administration or operating costs.

“Unfortunately, the resultant suspension of basic football activities in almost every country has led to enormous financial distress for member associations and their respective football structures,” FIFA said in the relief plan.

“FIFA quickly recognised the need and duty to implement a FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan aimed at alleviating this distress and ensuring the provision of financial support to assist with football’s resumption and protect the games future well-being across the globe.”

FIFA administrators created the plan earlier this year after consultation with the confederations. The plan was then approved by the FIFA Council on June 25.

New Zealand Football confirms 2020/21 season details

New Zealand Football has confirmed the details and starting dates of its national competitions for the 2020/21 season, during October and November.

New Zealand Football has confirmed the details and starting dates of its national competitions for the 2020/21 season.

The national men’s football league, the ISPS Handa Premiership will start in November, while the National Women’s League will commence from the weekend of October 31.

COVID-19 has also forced some structural changes to be made to both the men’s and women’s competitions.

In the ISPS Handa Premiership, the competition will feature eight club instead of the usual 10 teams. The South Island teams, Southern United, Tasman United and Canterbury United Dragons, will merge for the upcoming season. They will play under the Canterbury United Dragons name.

The competition will retain its usual format of a regular season with each team playing each other twice before a finals series including semi-finals and a grand final – the latter is expected to be held in March 2021.

Plans for a promotion and relegation framework have been postponed and will be reviewed before the 2021/22 season.

The National Women’s League will be played as a single round robin competition for this season. A grand final will be held on the weekend of December 19. The competition will feature all seven women’s teams.

“It has taken a lot of work with our clubs and federations to get to this stage but we are excited to now be able to confirm initial details of our national competitions for the upcoming season,” Daniel Farrow, General Manager of Football for New Zealand Football said in a statement.

“While Covid-19 and the knock-on effect of shifting community football dates has had an impact on the length of competitions and, in the case of the ISPS Handa Premiership, the number of teams able to take part, running men’s, women’s and futsal national league competitions this year was a key priority and we are very pleased to be able to make that happen.

“We also want to acknowledge the support of Sport NZ and our on-going partnership with Trillian Trust as key contributors to staging competitions this season.”

The 2019/20 ISPS Handa Premiership was called off early in March due to COVID-19. Auckland City, who were leading the competition at the time, were declared champions.

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