UEFA president: Better to play behind closed doors than not at all
Lukas Schulze - UEFA / UEFA / Getty

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UEFA's president believes it is better to stage soccer matches without fans than to wipe them off the schedule altogether.

Aleksander Ceferin admits the 2019-20 Champions League and Europa League campaigns could be scrapped if the coronavirus continues to restrict play, however. To avoid that eventuality, Ceferin believes the matches would need to be completed in under five months.

"The fact is that we really don't know much," Ceferin told German broadcaster ZDF, as reported by The Guardian's Ed Aarons. "We are waiting for the development of this terrible situation in the world, and mainly in Europe. Football isn't the same without fans ... it is definitely better to play with fans than without fans.

"It is still better to play the game behind closed doors and have it on TV - which is what the people need and want because it brings positive energy to their homes - than not playing at all. That's what the people want, that brings positive energy, and it will be July or August. We can't play it out in September or October."

When Ceferin was asked if the season could be completely abandoned, Ceferin replied, "If the authorities do not allow us to play, then we cannot play."

The Slovenian was quoted in other publications saying the Champions League must be completed by Aug. 3, otherwise, the continental season could be expunged. UEFA has since refuted these reported comments in a statement.

"This is not true," the administrative body said. "The president was very clear not to set exact dates for the end of the season. UEFA is currently analyzing all options to complete domestic and European seasons with the European Club Association and the European Leagues in the working group set up on 17 March. The primary priority of all the members of the working group is to preserve public health.

"Following on from that, it is to find calendar solutions to complete all competitions. Options are currently being studied to play matches in July and in August if needed, depending on restart dates and the permission of national authorities."

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UEFA president: Better to play behind closed doors than not at all
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