French football completely stopped

Ligue 1 players will no longer play their championship until further notice.
Ligue 1 players will no longer play their championship until further notice. GONZALO FUENTES / REUTERS

Switzerland had been the first to suspend its football competitions at the start of March due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. More resounding in their notoriety, the Italian (Serie A) and Spanish (Liga) championships had followed suit.

It is since, Friday, March 13, the turn of France, whose Professional Football League (LFP) has just announced the suspension until further notice of its Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 championships. The German Bundesliga should follow At the beginning of next week.

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Meeting at the telephone board of directors on Friday morning, the LFP voted " unanimously "according to sources close to the authorities, while the League had initially kept its matches behind closed doors until April 15. So the matches of the 29e day, starting with Lyon-Reims Friday, are postponed.

Players don't want to play anymore

"Continuing to play doesn't make sense, neither do half-measures. The players are in direct contact with each other, they no longer want to play, and the coaches feel it. Everyone would have gone in reverse ”, argues Raymond Domenech, president of Unecatef, the coaches' union.

"The championship, it is better that it ends with spectators in May or June, rather than in camera with a chance that it does not last because of potentially contaminated players", adds Bernard Caïazzo, president of the Premier League union representing elite clubs.

The day before, the French Football Federation (FFF), organizer of all amateur competitions, had, it, directly suspended all its activities " until further notice ", taking from Thursday "Its responsibilities to contribute unambiguously to stem the health crisis", according to its president Noël Le Graët.

Exit therefore the championship of France of D1 women and its shock PSG-Lyon initially envisaged Saturday, exit also until new order the matches of the lower divisions starting from National, the third echelon.

"Every day there are aggravating elements, and the question of playing behind closed doors is exceeded as a few players are infected", underlines Philippe Piat, president of UNFP, the players' union. The period of uncertainty has only just begun, as on Thursday, no case of Covid-19 had so far been diagnosed in French professional teams.

Economic concern

A suspicion of uncertainty also hangs over the cancellation of the French team preparation matches for Euro 2020, against Ukraine and Finland, scheduled for March 27 and 31 behind closed doors in Saint-Denis . A decision could be taken on Tuesday 17, the day chosen by UEFA to bring together all its member federations by videoconference and decide the fate of its European competitions, Champions League and Euro at the head.

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But pessimism reigns in view of the deterioration of the sanitary situation in European clubs, with several infected players in Italy, large confined teams (Arsenal, Real Madrid, Juventus) and cancellations of all-out friendly matches. The clash between the Netherlands and Spain and a preparation tournament involving Portugal, Belgium and Croatia at the end of March will not take place.

But in addition to being sanitary, the uncertainty will also be economic, with a potentially huge shortfall. "If the championships don't go all the way, broadcasters may not pay everything they have to pay. And that dreads a catastrophic domino effect, alarmed Claude Michy, president of the Union of French professional clubs, Better to finish all the championships, with the uncertainty that there is on the deadline. "

The deadline could be extended by a few weeks in the event of postponement of Euro-2020 (12 June-12 July), a scenario taken seriously by UEFA according to several sources close to the authorities. The LFP has said it will reconvene its board of directors on Tuesday after the UEFA meeting to adapt to the new health landscape in European football.

A suspension that extends to all of French sport

The paralysis is now global. As of yesterday, it's the French Federation of volleyball who had decided to "Suspend all official volleyball events in all its practices" for a period from Friday March 13 to April 5, 2020 inclusive.

Friday morning, the French Federation of rugby (FFR) made the same decision: "All the championships, of all the categories without exception, are suspended, as well as all the activities of the schools of rugby, in order to fight effectively against the propagation of Covid-19", underlines the FFR in a press release. A suspension that the National Rugby League (NRL) extended later today to professional Top 14 and Pro D2 games.

In the aftermath, at the end of the morning, it was the French Federation ofAthletics who published a press release of the same ilk "By canceling all competitions and rallies. " In addition, the FFA also asks the clubs to suspend all group training.

As for the Federation of ski, it suspends, "From Friday March 13 at midnight and until further notice", "all competitions of all disciplines, all levels and all categories".

The World with AFP


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