Coronavirus: League-wise guide to the return of football around Europe


Bengaluru, May 20: Just when we are about to reach the close of the European season, football and all other global sporting events were brought to an halt in March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

And when there was acceptance of defeat to the virus by few leagues and events, which were either cancelled or voided or rescheduled, top European leagues have pondered about a possible restart.

There is talk that return of sport could boost the morale during this pandemic, but many fear it could be too risky although the possible resumption will be only in a closed-door environment.

With the German Bundesliga having become the first major European league to resume following the two-month coronavirus shutdown and more and more countries now planning to follow suit, here is a look at the situation across the continent:

Leagues confirmed to restart or have restarted

The German Bundesliga returned last weekend to complete the final nine rounds of the season with all matches going ahead behind closed doors.

However, It was not the first European league to return as that honour went to Faroe Islands, which resumed its league a week earlier. Meanwhile in Belarus, football carried on throughout the last two months despite the pandemic.

On Tuesday (May 19) football also returned in Estonia, with the top-flight Meistriliiga making its comeback behind closed doors.

Here are confirmed restart dates elsewhere:

Czech Republic - May 23

Denmark - May 28

Serbia - May 30

Austria - June 2

Portugal - June 4

Slovenia - June 5

Croatia - June 6

Turkey - June 12

Norway - June 16

Russia - June 21

Finland - July 1

Leagues still awaiting green light

England, Spain and Italy all remain hopeful of completing the season but ongoing concerns about the health crisis mean nothing is set in stone.

The UK and Italy have been the worst affected countries in Europe by the pandemic and Spain is not far behind.

Six positive cases for coronavirus were detected at three English Premier League clubs after players and staff were tested ahead of a return to training, it was revealed on Tuesday.

Premier League clubs are aiming for a return to action by the middle of next month despite concerns from some players over their welfare.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has said all its competitions, including Serie A, will remain suspended until at least June 14.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he needs "more guarantees" before the green light could finally be given for football to resume.

In Spain, players are now training in groups of up to 10 with La Liga targeting a restart on June 12.

Other hoped-for restart dates include:

Romania - May 27

Poland - May 29

Greece - June 6

Switzerland - June 20

Season over in below leagues

The Netherlands became the first European country to bring an early end to the season on April 24 as the Eredivisie was cancelled without a champion being crowned.

France then followed suit on April 30, ending the season with 10 rounds of matches unplayed.

The season was not voided, though, with Paris Saint-Germain confirmed as champions, European places dished out and relegation and promotion between the top two divisions maintained on a two-up, two-down basis.

Belgium has also ended its season, with Club Brugge champions, after the Belgian government announced it was suspending all sporting competitions until July 31.

In Scotland the season had already been called early in the three divisions below the top flight and the Premiership followed suit on Monday (May 18), with Celtic being crowned champions for the ninth year running.

Luxembourg and Cyprus also called an end to their seasons but without naming a champion.

However in Cyprus European places were attributed with Omonia Nicosia entering the qualifying rounds of the next Champions League.

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