French Ligue 1 season cancelled due to coronavirus

 French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the ‘football season cannot return’ due to the risk of a second outbreak

Tom Kershaw
Tuesday 28 April 2020 16:00 BST
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The French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, has confirmed that no sporting events will be held in the country until September at the earliest, thereby cancelling the remainder of the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 season.

Professional football in France was suspended at the start of March due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the French Professional Football League (LFP) had detailed plans as recently as last week over a possible resumption of the season on 17 June.

In a speech to the National Assembly on Tuesday, Philippe said he would not sanction the return of the sport, even behind closed doors, due to the risk of a second outbreak of Covid-19.

“The 2019-2020 season of professional sports, including football, will not be able to resume,” he said. “It will be possible, on sunny days, to practice an individual sporting activity outdoors, obviously respecting the rules of social distancing.

“It will not be possible, neither to practice sport in covered places, nor team or contact sports.”

The LFP will now meet to determine the best way to end the season, with debates around promotion, relegation, and European qualification to dominate the agenda.

The Netherlands’ Eredivisie season was cancelled last week without the crowning of any champion, with the top two teams, Ajax and AZ Alkmaar, qualifying for the Champions League.

In Spain, LaLiga president Javier Tebas does not believe his country should follow the lead of France and Holland.

He said: “I do not understand why there would more danger in playing football behind closed doors, with all precautionary measures, than working on an assembly line, being on a fishing boat on the high seas.

“If important economic sectors cannot restart, in a safe and controlled manner, they could end up disappearing. That could happen to professional football.

“In other countries teams are already training, that’s the example to follow.

“In Spain, football is an important economic driver that we need to reactivate like many others. We continue to focus on this reactivation, in a responsible manner and adhering to health recommendations, as soon as possible.”

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