UEFA met on Thursday to discuss 2020-2021 continental club competitions and decided that teams would be chosen on league form citing sporting merit as the major criteria for qualification. They stated that qualification for its club competitions next season must be done on “sporting merit”, while reaffirming its belief that the 2019-20 season should be played to a complete finish where possible.
The global coronavirus has caused a major hindrance to the progress of football competitions across Europe with the Champions league and the Europa league put on hold and other domestic leagues suspended or in some cases abandoned. Belgian professional league has been abandoned as announced by the Belgian FA, while the Dutch Eredivise has been suspended after the Dutch government called off all football activities till September 1.
A UEFA executive committee met on Thursday in a video conference to discuss how qualifications for the new season would be attained and they came to a conclusion
A UEFA statement read: “As a result of representations made by the football authorities in Belgium and Scotland, the committee recognises the issues raised and approved the guidelines on eligibility principles for 2020-21 UEFA club competitions. The guidelines reflect the principle that admission to UEFA club competitions is always based on sporting merit.
“Therefore, UEFA urges national associations and leagues to explore all possible options to play all top domestic competitions giving access to UEFA club competitions to their natural conclusion. However, UEFA stresses that the health of players, spectators and all those involved in football as well as the public at large must remain the primary concern at this time.
“The ideal scenario, should the pandemic situation permit it, is to have the currently suspended domestic competitions completed enabling football clubs to qualify for UEFA club competitions on sporting merit in their original format.
“Should this outcome not be possible, in particular due to calendar issues, it would be preferable that suspended domestic competitions would restart with a different format in a manner which would still facilitate clubs to qualify on sporting merit.”
Some European domestic leagues are contemplating returning to action but behind closed doors such as the German Bundesliga who plan to resume action by May 9 pending government approval. But other major leagues such as England, Spain and Italy cannot afford to at the moment because they were hit hardest by the pandemic and so UEFA has decided that next season’s continental club competitions would be determined by league form and not club status, UEFA ranking or riches.
Its statement continued: “If a domestic competition is prematurely terminated, UEFA would require the national association concerned to select clubs for the UEFA club competitions 2020-21 based on sporting merit in the 2019-20 domestic competitions.
“The procedure for selecting clubs should be based on objective, transparent and non-discriminatory principles. National associations and leagues should otherwise have the ability to decide the final positions in their domestic competitions, having regard to the specific circumstances of each competition.
UEFA also said it reserves the right to refuse admission to any club for next year’s continental competition if it feels they have been chosen unfairly, including if “there is a public perception of unfairness in the qualification of the club.”
Among other topics discussed were the possibility of completing this season’s competitions whether to continue being played alongside domestic leagues as usually done or wait till August when the leagues are over.