Organizing European cups at the time of Covid-19 and its new variants is starting to turn into a nightmare. Consider that Liverpool footballers are forced to travel to Budapest to play their round of 16 first leg of the Champions League against Leipzig. The German authorities refused entry into their territory of the English club. In the Europa League, Molde (Norway) – Hoffenheim is relocated to Villarreal in Spain. As for Benfica-Arsenal, the match will be held in Rome!
The push of variants and in particular the British version worries the European health authorities who have all made a turn of the screw. In their sights, European sporting events, a possible vector of the virus due to the multiple trips. Relocations, when it is not purely of cancellations, are not limited to football. With an additional difficulty: the matches can bring together teams from countries affiliated to European sports bodies but located outside the European Union such as Norway, Macedonia or even Russia.
Last Friday, PSG Handball was still happy to welcome Vardar Skopje this Tuesday, after a first postponement in October. In the meantime, the EHF, the European federation, announced that Macedonians were ultimately not allowed to travel to the capital, echoing the latest government measures, which stipulate that “any entry into France and any exit from our territory to or from a country outside the European Union is prohibited from midnight January 31, unless there is a compelling reason. If the authorization is granted, it is then necessary to submit to a septaine. Unthinkable for a sport where we play every three days.
PSG Hand already has three games to replay
“We are in a period where we must constantly adapt, recognizes Thierry Omeyer, the new manager of the Parisian club, who already has three matches to replay in the Champions League. Each country imposes different health rules and we are forced to submit to these restrictions. The qualifying group stage must end on March 3, it looks very complicated… ”
To date, eleven meetings have already been postponed concerning the French clubs (eight for boys, and three for girls). Taking into account the specificity of the location outside the European Union, which entered into force on February 1, three upcoming matches are potentially unplayable for boys, and seven for women because they are scheduled outside the EU.
“It’s very problematic for a club like ours, which does not play the European Cup all the time,” explains Fabien Roy, the administrative director of Toulouse, engaged in the European League, the second competition. Our challenge is to get out of the qualifying pools and then play in prestigious clubs. “
In volleyball, the Montpellier club is also in expectation. While they must travel to Moscow to face Dinamo on February 24 for the semi-final first leg of the CEV Cup (C2), the players of Hérault still do not know if they will be entitled to s ‘get there. “We are in an indecisive situation, we explain to the Montpellier club. For the moment, the CEV (European volleyball confederation) is maintaining the match but we are awaiting the agreement of the government’s interministerial crisis unit (CIC) to be sure that we will not be subjected to a septaine when returning. This would have repercussions on our schedule. “
The European Cups, a compelling reason?
According to our information, a final arbitration to find a way to avoid this famous septain for professional clubs, would be set up by the government, and this under compelling reason. “The incubation times for variants, especially English, are not fully mastered,” says the Ministry of Sports. We must be able to provide all the necessary guarantees so that the players can resume training with peace of mind. “
According to the Euroleague of basketball, which manages the eponymous competition and the Eurocup, only two matches concerning Maccabi Tel Aviv could not take place normally. Continental competitions – with the exception of the Euroleague – will take a break in February due to national team matches. But the question is more topical than ever, with countries stepping up entry measures into their territory. “We are waiting for answers from the ministry to know how to organize,” said the National Basketball League. We will have no other choice but to apply government instructions. “
“The authorities may have to review the formats”
“We are doing everything to remain optimistic, assures Fabien Roy. Since the start of this pandemic, we have been able to find plans B, C, D… the least penalizing. “” We have the opportunity and the chance to continue training and playing, concludes Thierry Omeyer. Since there is not a lot of visibility, we prepare as best as possible for each match. “
The department therefore still has work to do to clarify the horizons of all disciplines. With the key “a lot of work to identify the competitions and give if necessary or not the authorization to come to the territory”. “Regarding the French teams, we add, we want there to be no septaine on their return. We will officially seize the federations which can give us their proposals. It is the same idea for major sporting competitions, such as major tournaments or qualifying for the Games (Editor’s note: like the next handball TQO in mid-March with the arrival of Tunisia in Montpellier) ”.
The authorities will study the competitions on a case-by-case basis. “The idea is nevertheless to limit travel. At some point, it will inevitably be necessary to review the formats and for the European authorities to adapt to reshape the calendars. “With perhaps in mind the idea of recreating health bubbles for certain tournaments like the one put in place for the Champions League in Lisbon last summer or during the last Handball World Championship in Egypt.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr