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FIFA Medical Chief Sceptical About Summer Return
Wednesday, 29th Apr 2020 09:41

Michel d’Hooghe, FIFA’s medical chief, says he’s “very sceptical” about the resumption of the 2019/20 campaign over the summer, believing it may be wiser for football to wait until the new season.

UEFA’s official position is that domestic tournaments should be played to their natural conclusion with the EFL having pencilled in a return to action behind closed doors on June 6th with players currently due to return to their clubs on May 16th.

The Premier League is continuing its plans to get back under way with a number of clubs having reopened their training grounds for players to take part in individual training this week.

However, yesterday it was announced in France that no sporting events, including football in the top two tiers, will take place until September at the earliest, while Belgium, Holland and Argentina have also declared their 2019/20 campaigns over.

European leagues have until May 25th to inform UEFA whether they will be completing or cancelling their seasons.

"My proposal is if it is possible, avoid playing competitive football in the coming weeks,” D’Hooghe told BBC Sport. "Try to be prepared for the start of good competition next season."

"There is a risk and it is not a risk that has small consequences. It can have consequences of life and death and that is why I am so careful and I ask everyone to be very careful before deciding to play again.

"I speak as a medical doctor, I don't have to speak as an organiser of matches, but for the moment from my medical standpoint I would be very sceptical."

He added: "How will you avoid direct contact? That is my question. For the moment the criteria means it is absolutely difficult to say that we can play competitive football and believe me I regret it profoundly because I am a football man.

"I am a little bit afraid that to have a complete solution we will have to wait until we have a vaccination programme, but I think the time has come now to think of some hygienic rules.

"For instance to avoid spitting - why do we have to see that in football and not in other sports? This is one of the things we have to consider because this is a real danger in the future."

Photo: Action Images

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62WasBest added 10:24 - Apr 29
But this season should be played out, whenever, before starting a new one, no matter what. No guarantee of a full next year either if Covid 19 breaks out again, vaccine or no vaccine, so that could leave two seasons messed up.

Saxonblue74 added 13:32 - Apr 29
Pleased to hear an authority in the game with a sensible take on things. This situation is life or death, football is not. What if the EFL say the season is to resume but there are clubs that feel it's the wrong thing to do? Surely they have the right to refuse, as would individual players?

62WasBest added 14:42 - Apr 29
Saxonblue74 - It doesn't have to be played out over the summer but maybe in the autumn. If anything, it should be next season that begins late and/or is tailored to be shorter (maybe half as many games) to accommodate the horrific possibility that Covid 19 is still stalking us. Why start a new season when you can't finish the old, with no guarantee that too won't be disrupted? I think that is the real issue and not whether any football should resume whilst we still have an epidemic. That should be a given. All this cancelling seasons is a knee-jerk reaction that doesn't address the problem for league based spectator sports . That is my point. Agreed, no football in the summer but those who run the game should focus on the possibility 2020-21 may not complete either, so should planning to get at least this season finished when it is safe to do so, especially as relatively few games are left.

OliveR16 added 17:40 - Apr 29
Yes, 62WasBest - I'm surprised at how little the idea of a shorter new season has been aired. It would make for a very exciting shorter (but planned) campaign while giving chance to finish this season sometime. Unfortunately I suspect that contracts of various kinds make this kind of flexibility hard.

Dissboyitfc added 21:49 - Apr 29
62wasbest... spot on my thoughts entirely and a shorter season might suit us next time, after all we were top not too many games ago!

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