Coronavirus travel bans could force clubs to drop out of European competition, according to Uefa.
With the final stages of the 2019-20 Europa League and Champions League set to be played out over the coming weeks, largely at neutral venues, the European governing body has been setting out protocols for what would happen in the event of a resurgence of Covid-19.
A new regulation, which will apply to the qualifying rounds and play-offs of next season’s competitions, would involve a club forfeiting a tie if their national or local government applied travel restrictions that affected their opponents.
When the UEL gets back underway tonight, player shirts will say 'thank you' in a variety of languages.— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) August 5, 2020
This #ThankYou is a symbol of European football's recognition of key workers on the front lines of the #COVID19 pandemic.#UEL pic.twitter.com/tCnjTNM0Dz
The rule requires clubs to inform Uefa of travel restrictions 48 hours before any draw. If they are drawn against a club from a banned country, they must find a neutral venue for their home tie.
If a travel ban is imposed after the 48-hour deadline, the home club could face severe consequences.
“In such cases, the club whose national/local authorities have imposed restrictions preventing the match from taking place as scheduled will be held responsible and the match will be declared by the Uefa Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body to be forfeited by such club, which will be considered to have lost it 3-0,” the text of the rules explains.
Tottenham are set to be drawn in the second qualifying round of the Europa League, the draw for which is to take place at the end of this month. English clubs are not at risk of being affected by Uefa’s rule because government guidance provides travel exemptions to elite athletes coming from countries which might otherwise be expected to quarantine.