Just a week before the beginning of the knockout stages of the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League, UEFA has implemented a new Covid protocol in a bid to avoid the cancellation or postponement of any matches.
First of all, the European governing body have decreed that “if at least 13 players from ‘List A’ (including a goalkeeper) are available, the match must take place on the scheduled date.”
If fewer than 13 players from the registered Champions League list are available, it is now possible to draft in players on the condition that they are at least registered with the national association.
“If a member of the designated officiating team tests positive for Covid-19, UEFA may exceptionally name replacement officials who may be of the same nationality as one of the clubs,” decrees the protocol, a scenario which would certainly bring scrutiny.
Crucially, UEFA have threatened forfeit for teams who are unable to play: “if it is not possible to reschedule the match, the club who are unable to play will be held responsible and will forfeit… considered to have lost 3-0.”
UEFA are clearly doing everything possible to stick to the schedule in a busy year of football, including Nations League fixtures in the summer and the World Cup at the end of the year.