UEFA has postponed all Champions League and Europa League matches scheduled to take place next week due to the spread of COVID-19.

European football's governing body will stage a video conference on Tuesday, March 17, to discuss how its club competitions and Euro 2020 might proceed in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, it has opted for immediate action due to the rapidly developing situation, with UEFA Youth League matches and the proposed quarter-final draws for the Champions League and Europa League on March 20 also called off.

"In the light of developments due to the spread of COVID-19 in Europe and related decisions made by different governments, all UEFA club competitions matches scheduled next week are postponed," a statement from the organisation read.

"This includes the remaining UEFA Champions League round of 16 second-leg matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020; all UEFA Europa League round of 16 second-leg matches scheduled on 19 March 2020; all UEFA Youth League quarter-final matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020.

"Further decisions on when these matches take place will be communicated in due course.

"As a consequence of the postponements, the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League quarter-final draws scheduled for 20 March have also been postponed."

Next Tuesday's scheduled Manchester City v Real Madrid and Juventus v Lyon matches had already been postponed, following Madrid placing their squad in quarantine and Juve defender Daniele Rugani testing positive for coronavirus.

A City player, reported to be Benjamin Mendy, has since self-isolated as a precaution after a family member was hospitalised.

Of the remaining fixtures, Barcelona v Napoli was slated to take place behind closed doors, even though both LaLiga and Serie A are currently suspended, while Chelsea's capacity to play their return leg against Bayern Munich was thrown into huge doubt by Callum Hudson-Odoi's positive COVID-19 test.

Ligue 1 on Friday suspended operations until further notice, with the Premier League expected to follow France's top flight in announcing a hiatus of its own.

UEFA will host a video conference next Tuesday to discuss how European football should respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Champions League and Europa League have already felt the effects of the outbreak and speculation on Thursday suggested an immediate suspension of both competitions was imminent, with similar action having already been taken in domestic competitions across the continent.

However, European football's governing body issued a statement to announce its conference, where the status of Euro 2020 will also be on the agenda.

The statement read: "In the light of the ongoing developments in the spread of COVID-19 across Europe and the changing analysis of the World Health Organisation, UEFA has today [Thursday] invited representatives of its 55 member associations, together with the boards of the European Club Association and the European Leagues and a representative of FIFPro, to attend meetings by video conference on Tuesday, March 17 to discuss European football's response to the outbreak.

"Discussions will include all domestic and European competitions, including UEFA Euro 2020."

Despite delaying its decision over a course of action for senior football, UEFA later announced all matches in its youth tournaments between March 14 and April 14 are postponed.

"This is a general precautionary measure, taken to avoid the possibility of players – many of whom would be minors – being stranded away from their families in the event of host governments declaring lockdowns or quarantines," a separate statement read.

Two Champions League matches this week – Valencia v Atalanta and Paris Saint-Germain v Borussia Dortmund – took place behind closed doors, while Manchester United's Europa League visit to Austrian club LASK and the games between Eintracht Frankfurt and Basel, and Olympiacos and Wolves will also be staged without supporters.

Juventus defender Daniele Rugani has tested positive for COVID-19, while Real Madrid have imposed a quarantine on their squad after a player from the club's basketball team similarly contracted the virus.

As such, Madrid's Champions League last-16 trip to Manchester City next week and Juventus' game with Lyon – both scheduled on the same day as UEFA's video conference – appear impossible to stage.

Madrid's move to self-quarantine persuaded LaLiga to suspend its next two rounds of fixtures, while no games in Serie A will take place until April 3.

Sevilla's Europa League match against Roma and Inter's clash with Getafe have already been postponed.

All matches in Ligue 1 will take place in empty stadia until next month, while the decisions on whether Bundesliga matches can take place with fans present are been taken on a case-by-case basis.

In France and Spain, the finals of the Coupe de France and the Copa del Rey have both been postponed.

The Premier League is yet to take any division-wide action, although City's planned game against Arsenal this week was postponed as a precaution after personnel from the London club came into contact with Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis, who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Euro 2020 is due to be staged across 12 European cities in June and July, with the tournament kicking off in Rome. Bosnia-Herzegovina have asked UEFA to postpone their qualification play-off match against Northern Ireland because quarantine measures in the country would compromise which players they can select.

Declared a pandemic on Wednesday, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday there had been 124,518 confirmed coronavirus cases and 4,607 deaths.

UEFA has not received a single request to postpone Euro 2020 amid concerns about coronavirus, despite claims to the contrary.

COVID-19 is starting to cause widespread disruption to sport across Europe, particularly in Italy, Germany, France and Spain.

Italy is the most-affected European nation, with 9,172 cases of infection reported as of Tuesday, and that has led to all sporting activities being postponed until April 3.

In Spain, fans have been prohibited from attending games at all levels over the next two matchdays, though that could change after the Spanish Footballers' Association (AFE) requested all action be postponed instead.

Euro 2020, which will be played across 12 European nations, is set to begin in Rome on June 12 – though reports on Tuesday suggested some federations have asked for the tournament be delayed until 2021.

UEFA insists no such requests have been received, however.

A spokesperson told Stats Perform: "We did not receive a single request from national associations to postpone the tournament."

Along with Italy, Euro 2020 is scheduled to be hosted in Azerbaijan, Denmark, England, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Russia, Scotland and Spain.

Wolves' Europa League last-16 first-leg tie at Olympiacos will be played behind closed doors, as will Sevilla's clash with Roma, UEFA has confirmed.

The two matches on Thursday are the latest to be impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

The Greek government enforced a temporary suspension of spectators attending sporting events on Sunday, with 73 confirmed cases of the virus in the country as of Monday.

UEFA subsequently affirmed the decision would affect Olympiacos in European competition, and Wolves will refund travelling fans who bought tickets.

Meanwhile, Roma's trip to Sevilla likewise will not allow supporters, following the example of Valencia v Atalanta – a Champions League encounter between Spanish and Italian teams.

The fixture will go ahead in Spain, where there are 999 cases and 16 deaths, although sporting events in Italy have been halted until April 3.

Italy is the European country most heavily affected by the virus, with 7,375 cases and 366 deaths.

A number of Serie A fixtures had been postponed even before Monday's decision to implement a four-week stoppage.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin believes English football needs to follow France's example and dispose of their league cup.

The EFL Cup - founded in 1960 - is secondary to the FA Cup in stature in the English game, with many clubs using it to field heavily rotated line-ups.

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City have dominated with three straight triumphs, yet a number of leading managers have complained of packed fixture lists in recent years.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp sent a reserve side to their quarter-final against Aston Villa due to Club World Cup commitments, and the EFL Cup would surely make way if the calendar was to be trimmed.

This season's Coupe de la Ligue final - between Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon next month - will be the last, and Ceferin believes it is in the best interests of the sport for the EFL Cup to go the same way.

"The league cup is off in France already," Ceferin told The Times. "Only England remains.

"I think that everybody knows that it would be better for everyone if that were not played any more.

"But the problem is that, through that cup, you finance a lot of clubs that are quite disadvantaged, so I understand the problem.

"The English are also quite traditionalist, [they] like things that have been there for ages."

The potential expansion of the Champions League would bloat top clubs' fixture lists further, yet Ceferin insists a call on the format of the tournament from 2024 has not yet been made, while he is not concerned by talk of a 'Super League'.

"We have many proposals on the table," he said. "Whatever evolution you have, you won't satisfy everyone.

"I'm not naive enough to think that everybody will be happy. Everybody will have to step back a bit.

"They shouldn't forget that the Champions League is the biggest club sports competition in the world, with some tradition. You don't just say, 'Now I play differently', and all the fans go and watch you."

Ceferin is hopeful a change to the VAR system in future UEFA events will prove universally popular, however, with marginal offsides a widespread cause of frustration.

"Yes, absolutely - thicker lines are essential for me," he said. "Because when you lose a match worth €100million because of one centimetre, because your foot is long or your nose is long, it's a bit too much.

"The line that is drawn is a subjective thing because he or she draws it in a van or wherever they are. It has to be a clear and obvious mistake.

"There's no way back now [with VAR] but let's see how we improve it."

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has rejected former UEFA president Michel Platini's appeal against his ban from all football-related activity.

Platini was initially given an eight-year ban for receiving a "disloyal payment" of two million Swiss francs (£1.3m) from then FIFA president Sepp Blatter in 2011. 

The former France captain had that reduced to six years in 2016 and further cut to four years following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Platini, who has served his ban, was unsuccessful with a Swiss Federal Court appeal and the ECHR has now ruled his punishment to be "justified" and his challenge as "inadmissible".

The judgement stated: "The Court found in particular that, having regard to the seriousness of the misconduct, the senior position held by Mr Platini in football's governing bodies and the need to restore the reputation of the sport and of FIFA, the sanction did not appear excessive or arbitrary.

"The domestic bodies had taken account of all the interests at stake in confirming the measure taken by FIFA, subsequently reduced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). 

"Lastly, the Court noted that the applicant had been afforded the domestic institutional and procedural safeguards allowing him to challenge FIFA’s decision and submit his arguments in his defence."

FIFA responded to the verdict by declaring it will continue to seek money owed. 

A FIFA statement read: "FIFA has taken note of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to reject the appeal of Mr. Platini, which the Court considered to be manifestly ill-founded. 

"This judgment is in line with the decision of FIFA’s Ethics Committee, which was confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sports and also by the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

"FIFA will continue to seek restitution of the CHF 2 million unduly paid by former FIFA President Joseph Blatter to Mr. Platini back in February 2011."

Platini and Blatter, who also had his ban reduced to six years, have continually denied any wrongdoing.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has urged football organisations "not to panic" when it comes to taking measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Several sporting events have been postponed and the football calendar has also faced problems, with Serie A having called off several fixtures over the past two weekends.

The Swiss government issued a ban on events where more than 1,000 people were expected to be in attendance, with the country's Football Association postponing league matches until March 23.

Some Premier League clubs have banned handshakes at training grounds amid fears matches in England's top flight may be affected.

Infantino, who last week admitted international matches scheduled to take place this month could be postponed as the outbreak continues to escalate, called for a considered approach to tackle the problem.

"Some of you have had to take important decisions in this respect. Every competition organiser has to study it of course and has to take decisions," he said at the UEFA Congress in Amsterdam.

"It is important to consider all the information from the authorities, but it's also important not to panic.

"Those who have to take decisions, like happened in Switzerland, will take decisions and then be able to move forward.

"Someone said to me football can be an antidote to coronavirus. I wouldn't go that far, but sometimes football is an antidote to many other illnesses like discrimination and racism, and this is a fight we need to fight all together."

UEFA has confirmed all their other matches this week are unimpacted by the coronavirus outbreak after the decision for Inter's Europa League match against Ludogorets to be played behind closed doors.

Inter and Ludogorets will clash in the second leg of their last-32 tie at San Siro on Thursday without any supporters present due to concerns over the spread of the virus in Italy, where there have been more than 300 cases and 11 deaths.

The confirmation of the match taking place behind closed doors was taken on Tuesday and followed the clash between Antonio Conte's side and Sampdoria being one of four Serie A fixtures postponed on Sunday.

But there will be no restrictions for attending supporters or alterations to fixtures for any of the other Europa League matches on Thursday or the two Champions League contests taking place on Wednesday.

"All other UEFA matches scheduled this week will go ahead as planned and at this time there are no restrictions for attending supporters," read UEFA's statement.

"UEFA will continue to closely monitor the situation regarding Covid-19 and to liaise with relevant authorities in this respect."

Manchester City have been given a two-season Champions League ban for "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play regulations, UEFA has announced.

The Premier League club must also pay a €30million fine as part of their punishments, which are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Following an investigation, the Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA's Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) found City guilty of "overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016".

The probe into City's financial affairs was prompted by a series of allegations published by German magazine Der Spiegel in November 2018, which drew on documents purportedly obtained by whistleblowers Football Leaks.

City have denied wrongdoing throughout the process and swiftly stated their intention to appeal the verdict, accusing UEFA of a lack of impartiality in a strongly worded statement.

"Manchester City is disappointed but not surprised by today's announcement by the UEFA Adjudicatory Chamber," the statement read.

"The club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body and process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position.  

"Simply put, this is a case initiated by UEFA, prosecuted by UEFA and judged by UEFA. With this prejudicial process now over, the club will pursue an impartial judgment as quickly as possible and will therefore, in the first instance, commence proceedings with the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the earliest opportunity."

The statement from the Premier League champions sounded a similarly strident tone to when they addressed being referred to the CFCB's Adjudicatory Chamber in May last year and they once again took specific issue with Yves Leterme - the former Belgian Prime Minister and UEFA's chief investigator.

City's appeal against that referral was dismissed as "inadmissible" by CAS last November because the CFCB had not determined a punishment at that stage.

CAS published details of that appeal this week, revealing City sought damages from UEFA over what they felt were "unlawful" leaks to the media – accusations Leterme believed to be "groundless" and "unacceptable in tone". CAS noted the allegations of leaks were "worrisome".

"In December 2018, the UEFA Chief Investigator publicly previewed the outcome and sanction he intended to be delivered to Manchester City, before any investigation had even begun," City's Friday statement read.

"The subsequent flawed and consistently leaked UEFA process he oversaw has meant that there was little doubt in the result that he would deliver. 

"The club has formally complained to the UEFA Disciplinary body, a complaint which was validated by a CAS ruling."

City completed a clean sweep of domestic trophies in England last season and have won five of the past six major English honours on offer.

European success has eluded Pep Guardiola and his players, however, and UEFA's ruling arguably heightens the importance of the forthcoming last-16 showdown with Real Madrid.

UEFA previously found City guilty of FFP breaches in 2014, with a €60m fine – later reduced to €20m after stipulated conditions were met – and a restriction in squad numbers for their 2014-15 Champions League campaign the punishment on that occasion.

Yaya Toure has revealed he is reluctant to let his children play football because of the fear they will be racially abused.

The former Manchester City and Barcelona midfielder said he would gladly work with the likes of UEFA and FIFA to combat racism in the game.

Speaking to Omnisport at the Club World Cup in Qatar, Toure also revealed his worry that racism will persist in Italy, where attempts to curb the problem have been frequently hamfisted.

"I'm sometimes emotional about this because racism is something that hurts me all the time," Toure said.

"Because my kids want to play football and want to be a footballer, and I say to him, 'Look, can you not do that?'.

"Sometimes I have to accept it, because I'm refusing him to play football why? Because of this kind of thing."

Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport recently faced criticism for its 'Black Friday' front-page headline, trailing the clash of Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling in Inter's match with Roma.

And the efforts of Serie A to mount an anti-racism campaign backfired when it used artwork of monkeys as a focal point of its campaign.

Asked about racism in Italy, Toure said: "They're going to continue it. They'll continue it. You just have to understand. Three months ago I was in a conference and there were some people from the federation in Italy who just talked about it. I talked with them and what to do with Lukaku sometimes, or some of the players who don't like it.

"I think they can be better but you have to teach them. It's just about the fans. People tell them they have to be educated but it's different. It's not integration; it's about something different."

The 36-year-old Ivorian said footballers should be free to perform in an environment where "players can express themselves", and added, when asked if he would work with FIFA and UEFA: "Definitely - I want to work with them now."

Toure did not spare World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar from his criticism of the state of the game, citing it and Iraq as being among countries where women are left to feel excluded from football.

He said: "In football, to play something you have to enjoy it, because men or women ... have to play and enjoy and be herself."

Women's World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe has called on clubs, officials and fan groups to do more to eradicate racism from football.

Rapinoe highlighted the €75,000 (£65,000) fine given to Bulgaria by UEFA last month following evidence of racist abuse during the Euro 2020 qualifier with England as an example of where the sport is continuing to fall short.

Bulgaria were also ordered to play two games behind closed doors - the second of which is suspended for two years - in a decision Rapinoe branded "an absolute joke".

"We're not going to accept this. This is not something that's going to be in our game," she told BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat.

"So I feel like all of the clubs and the presidents and fan groups and everyone, you know, frankly are failing these players.

"If you're ever caught doing anything racist you should be banned for life. That's just the end of it. I mean £65,000 is an absolute joke.

"For me I'm just like, make it super extreme so it's damaging to the team, to the federation, so it's damaging financially."

Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling played in England's recent qualifier in Sofia and has been praised for speaking out about racism.

Rapinoe has urged others to follow his example.

"I need all the players on Raheem's team, all the players in the Premier League and in the leagues abroad to make it their problem because it really is everybody's issue," she said.

Rapinoe won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot as the United States defended their World Cup crown earlier this year, before collecting the Best FIFA Women's Player award in September.

UEFA's decision to impose a two-match home stadium ban on Bulgaria for the racist behaviour of supporters during a match against England has underwhelmed anti-discrimination campaigners Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE).

England crushed Bulgaria 6-0 in Sofia on October 14, but the match was marred by the actions of a group of home fans, who targeted Tyrone Mings, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling with racist abuse.

Nazi salutes in home sections of the ground were also seen and the match was twice brought to a halt by officials.

UEFA confirmed the punishment on Tuesday, with Bulgaria set to play against the Czech Republic behind closed doors in November, with the second game of the ban suspended for two years.

Many had called on UEFA to make an example of Bulgaria after the governing body's president Aleksander Ceferin vowed to "wage war on the racists", but FARE is dissatisfied with the sanction handed down.

FARE executive director Piara Powar said: "We welcome the speed of this decision, but we are disappointed that Bulgaria will not be expelled from the Euro 2020 qualifying competition given their previous record, and obvious inability to deal with the problems they face.

"We think that the evidence and circumstances of this match would have justified European football being given a stronger signal on the need to tackle racism.

"Obtaining justice for racist acts is not easy in any setting, it is clear that football is no exception.

"We will be in touch with UEFA to explore options and maintain that Bulgaria and others in the same situation fundamentally reappraise how they deal with racism."

The Football Association (FA) also addressed UEFA's ruling and reiterated a call to stamp out racism, though there was no indication as to whether it was content with the punishment.

"We sincerely hope the disgraceful scenes in Sofia are never repeated," an FA statement read.

"Our priority remains our players, support team and fans and we will do all we can to ensure they never have to endure such circumstances again.

"While we acknowledge UEFA's ruling, a huge challenge still exists around racism and discrimination in society.

"Football has its part to play, and must do so, but it is for all to recognise the seriousness of the problem.

"While those responsible for such deplorable behaviour at home or abroad need to be held to account, we should not lose sight of the importance of education programmes in finding a long-term solution.

"That has to be the way forward to help address the root cause of such disgusting behaviour. We are ready to build on our work with UEFA, Kick It Out and the FARE network in any positive way we can."

UEFA's decision to impose a two-match home stadium ban on Bulgaria for the racist behaviour of supporters during a match against England has underwhelmed anti-discrimination campaigners Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE).

England crushed Bulgaria 6-0 in Sofia on October 14, but the match was marred by the actions of a group of home fans, who targeted Tyrone Mings, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling with racist abuse.

Nazi salutes in home sections of the ground were also seen and the match was twice brought to a halt by officials.

UEFA confirmed the punishment on Tuesday, with Bulgaria set to play against the Czech Republic behind closed doors in November, with the second game of the ban suspended for two years.

Many had called on UEFA to make an example of Bulgaria after the governing body's president Aleksander Ceferin vowed to "wage war on the racists", but FARE is dissatisfied with the sanction handed down.

FARE executive director Piara Powar said: "We welcome the speed of this decision, but we are disappointed that Bulgaria will not be expelled from the Euro 2020 qualifying competition given their previous record, and obvious inability to deal with the problems they face.

"We think that the evidence and circumstances of this match would have justified European football being given a stronger signal on the need to tackle racism.

"Obtaining justice for racist acts is not easy in any setting, it is clear that football is no exception.

"We will be in touch with UEFA to explore options and maintain that Bulgaria and others in the same situation fundamentally reappraise how they deal with racism."

The Football Association (FA) also addressed UEFA's ruling and reiterated a call to stamp out racism, though there was no indication as to whether it was content with the punishment.

"We sincerely hope the disgraceful scenes in Sofia are never repeated," an FA statement read.

"Our priority remains our players, support team and fans and we will do all we can to ensure they never have to endure such circumstances again.

"While we acknowledge UEFA's ruling, a huge challenge still exists around racism and discrimination in society.

"Football has its part to play, and must do so, but it is for all to recognise the seriousness of the problem.

"While those responsible for such deplorable behaviour at home or abroad need to be held to account, we should not lose sight of the importance of education programmes in finding a long-term solution.

"That has to be the way forward to help address the root cause of such disgusting behaviour. We are ready to build on our work with UEFA, Kick It Out and the FARE network in any positive way we can."

Bulgaria must play next month's home match against the Czech Republic behind closed doors as punishment for fans aiming racist abuse at England players in the recent Euro 2020 qualifier, UEFA has said.

England’s 6-0 win in Sofia on October 14 was tarnished by the behaviour of a group of home supporters, who targeted the likes of Tyrone Mings, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling with racist abuse. Nazi salutes in home sections of the stadium were also witnessed.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin vowed European football’s governing body would "wage war on the racists", amid the outcry that followed the game.

Its decision to impose a two-game closed-doors punishment – with the second of those games suspended for two years – may not appease those who called for a robust reaction from UEFA.

The Bulgarian Football Union [BFU] must also display a ‘No To Racism' banner at the national team’s next two UEFA competition matches, and has been fined 75,000 euros for the racist behaviour and throwing of objects during the England game.

UEFA added, in a statement revealing the punishments imposed by its control, ethics and disciplinary body, that it had also imposed a fine of 10,000 euros on the BFU for disrupting England’s national anthem. The BFU was also issued with a warning over the showing of replays on a big screen.

The English Football Association [FA] was fined 5,000 euros for fans disrupting Bulgaria’s national anthem, with a separate charge regarding stewarding levels put back until a November 21 hearing.

Bulgaria sit bottom of Group A in Euro 2020 qualifying. Confirmation of the closed-doors punishment could bolster second-placed Czech Republic’s hopes of an away victory in the November 17 fixture between the teams, as the Czechs bid to secure a place in the finals.

UEFA did not immediately detail whether its ruling would mean Czech fans intending to travel to the game at the Vasil Levski national stadium would have their plans thwarted.

Bulgaria must play next month's home match against the Czech Republic behind closed doors as punishment for fans aiming racist abuse at England players in the recent Euro 2020 qualifier, UEFA has said.

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