FIFA Medical Chief Slams European Football Leagues for Planned Mid-May Return

The head of FIFA’s medical committee, Michel D’Hooghe, has hit out at plans to resume the European leagues in mid-May, insisting that it would definitely be ‘a health risk’.

Football has been suspended across all of Europe following the outbreak and fast-spreading nature of the coronavirus, with countries such as Italy and Spain suffering hundreds of fatalities every day. 

But despite the virus continuing to spread, and the number of cases increasing daily, the football world is already making plans to get the ball rolling again, in the hope of rescuing a season which is threatening to be cancelled. 

And medical chief D’Hooghe has slammed these proposals, stating that it is ‘absolutely too early,’ to take to the field again and ‘the coronavirus will not have disappeared by May’, as reported by ​the Daily Mail. 

“That is absolutely too early. If you start games in mid-May you have to begin training two or three weeks earlier. I don’t have the future in my hands but in my opinion that’s not a good idea. It’s definitely a health risk with the information we have today.

“What I can say is that the coronavirus will not have disappeared by May even if it may have flattened out slightly in some countries more than others. 

“I can’t say when football should realistically start again, it’s an incredibly difficult question because no-one knows when the coronavirus peak will be reached.”

And D’Hooghe hinted that the problem may not be just the matches themselves, but the preparation teams must undergo before recommencing the season, confessing that ‘it’s certainly a risk’ to the players’ lives. 

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“But even if clubs start playing behind closed doors, they will need to have trained for at least two weeks. 

“That means people coming together in dressing rooms and showers etc and that is precisely what we have to avoid for the moment. 

“Could that endanger lives? With what I know as of today, it’s certainly a risk, yes.”

And the FIFA chief encouraged teams to ignore the financial factors that are at stake, as clubs may lose millions through their lack of revenue from match days and television rights, along with possible sponsorships. 

“You have to strike a balance between medical and economic factors. You have the choice. What do you prefer, health or money? This at the moment is the most acute question.

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“If you start the competition before getting the green light from the medical specialists, that could put economics before health and this is precisely what they should not do. Otherwise we could all be punished.”

While many of Europe’s top teams will only suffer a minor dip in their finances if the season was to end prematurely, it could force many clubs to close their doors at the bottom of the football pyramid.

The Premier League is reportedly ​considering resuming play at the start of June, allowing for next season to start on time in August. However, that would still mean players would return to training in mid-May.

These are hard times for us all.



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