Coronavirus: 'Sporting merit' could determine European qualifiers – UEFA

By Sports Desk April 23, 2020

UEFA called on leagues across Europe to complete their seasons where possible, as it presented emergency alternative plans on Thursday.

European football's governing body says national associations and leagues should "explore all possible options" to finish the domestic competitions which remain unresolved.

However, it stressed there are back-up plans in case circumstances prevent leagues and cups being played to a finish.

UEFA proposed competitions starting "with a different format", or, where no resumption is possible, for national associations to decide places for next season's European competitions "on sporting merit".

Related items

  • Coronavirus: Djokovic kept lockdown training quiet to avoid riling rivals Coronavirus: Djokovic kept lockdown training quiet to avoid riling rivals

    Novak Djokovic kept it quiet that he was able to train almost every day during lockdown as the world number one did not want to "infuriate other players".

    Djokovic is back in Serbia after spending two months in Marbella, as the coronavirus pandemic prevented him from returning to his homeland.

    The 17-time grand slam champion, who is set to host and play in the new Adria Tour next month, did not want to make it public that he had been able to stay more active than most of his rivals during his time in Spain.

    He said at a press conference in Belgrade on Monday: "Unlike many other players, I was able to train almost every day because we resided in a house with a tennis court.

    "I refrained from posting clips on social networks because I didn't want to infuriate other players. I am fit and in good shape, so I am looking forward to the Adria Tour, which I am organising."

    Djokovic, who turned 33 last Friday, revealed that Alexander Zverev is the latest player who has committed to playing on the Adria Tour.

    The world number seven has agreed to play in the June 13-14 event in Belgrade and could be on court in Zadar, Croatia a week later.

    Djokovic added that matches in Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina have not yet been 100 per cent confirmed.

    The events have been arranged to raise money for "humanitarian projects across the region" as well as helping tennis players get back in shape during the ATP Tour suspension.

    Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov are among the other players who will feature.

  • Premier League title gives Leicester 'stardom', says former boss O'Neill Premier League title gives Leicester 'stardom', says former boss O'Neill

    Martin O'Neill has praised Leicester City's progress under Brendan Rodgers and feels the club's famous Premier League title win is still helping them.

    Leicester are on course to reach the Champions League, with the Foxes sitting third in the Premier League table prior to the coronavirus halting top-flight action.

    A remarkable season has seen them equal the Premier League's record for the biggest ever win with the 9-0 triumph at Southampton, as they sit above the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal in the standings.

    The impressive campaign in Rodgers' first full season since joining from Celtic comes after Leicester finished ninth last season, with O'Neill - who managed them between 1995 and 2000, winning two EFL Cups - impressed by what he has seen.

    He thinks Leicester's unbelievable 2016 league success catapulted the club to a new level of stardom, helping to set foundations that make the current team more likely to remain a leading force.

    "Do I think that Leicester can make the Champions League? Oh, very much so," O'Neill said to Stats Perform News.

    "They are in a terrific position. They have played very, very well, they have played a nice brand of football as well. So, good credit to the manager, Brendan, he's done very well there.

    "Their season when they won the league was absolutely and utterly incredible. I suppose it takes the shine away from our particular years there, finishing in the top 10 for about four consecutive seasons and winning a couple of EFL Cups.

    "But overall, Leicester City are a very fine footballing team. They are competing.

    "They are competing financially in the market as well. They are pretty astute, they got a lot of money from Manchester United for the centre-back [Harry Maguire] and then used it accordingly.

    "Of course, winning the league a couple of seasons ago has escalated into some sort of stardom anyway, if not super-stardom.

    "They are a team to be reckoned with, no question about that."

  • Joe Hart eyeing move abroad to revive career but accepts 'I'm not going to Real Madrid' Joe Hart eyeing move abroad to revive career but accepts 'I'm not going to Real Madrid'

    Joe Hart understands he is unlikely to earn a move to a top club at the end of the season but is eager to go abroad if that means he can become a key player for a team once more.

    Now 33, Hart has not played a Premier League game for Burnley since being dropped after a 5-1 home loss to Everton on Boxing Day in 2018, a match of which he "remembers every second".

    Since leaving Manchester City, where he won two Premier League titles, he has represented Torino and West Ham on loan, while the goalkeeper with 75 caps to his name has lost his place in the England squad.

    Hart acknowledges he may not be joining a side contending for titles when his Burnley contract expires but is more determined than ever to prove he has much to offer.

    "It [my desire] has got stronger," Hart said to the Guardian. "This lockdown has made me realise how much I want to play football.

    "I understand I'm not going to be part of Real Madrid. I don't think I've lost the ability, but I know how football works.

    "All I want to do is be a big part of something. I just want to be a big part of a club and give my all to them. That hope burns through me."

    Referring to his time at Torino, Hart added: "I enjoyed being part of that club. In terms of being in a different country, experiencing a different culture, playing a different league, I absolutely loved it.

    "It's definitely something I'd love to do again. I believe there will be [clubs who want to sign me]. But they all need to work out exactly what the hell is going on [with the coronavirus pandemic].

    "I like to think I'm a good catch. I'm on a free contract, I've got experience and real hunger. The Premier League has been great for me but I'm more than willing to spread my wings, I'm totally open [to playing abroad].

    "I just want to play at the highest level I can. In England, I don't feel I am going to be able to do that."

    Hart is to appear on a BBC programme on mental health to support a campaign led by Prince William.

    "It is certainly my lowest point – I'm sad I'm not playing, [but it is] a challenge rather than a dark cloud," he said of his own situation.

    "Mentally, because of what I've put in place when I was flying higher and winning leagues, I feel really comfortable talking about my head space. But I also need to speak because football is difficult.

    "It is hard but I'm going to be on a programme with guys who have real problems.

    "I want people who haven't experienced any adversity in football to learn from this. It's all very well riding the wave, but it won't last forever.

    "Inevitably, it's hard to maintain. How we react is something I'm keen on trying to help people with – giving them the tools to deal with those situations. One of the greatest things for me is to help people."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.