Coronavirus and football: Fifa medical chair does not want restart this season

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Fifa’s chief doctor has warned against restarting the interrupted 2019-20 campaign and suggested governing bodies prepare for action next season instead.

Michel d’Hooghe said “as a doctor” he would be “sceptical” about continuing leagues amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The chair of Fifa’s medical committee told BBC Sport: “My proposal is if it is possible, avoid playing competitive football in the coming weeks.

“Try to be prepared for the start of good competition next season.”

European leagues have until 25 May to tell European governing body Uefa whether they want to complete or cancel their seasons.

“There is a risk and it is not a risk that has small consequences,” continued D’Hooghe.

“It can have consequences of life and death and that is why I am so careful and I ask everyone to be very careful before deciding to play again.

“I speak as a medical doctor, I don’t have to speak as an organiser of matches, but for the moment from my medical standpoint I would be very sceptical.”

Belgian D’Hooghe added it would be extremely difficult to continue social distancing if football matches were to resume and believes some “hygienic rules” would have to be put in place if seasons were to continue.

“How will you avoid direct contact?” he said. “That is my question.

“For the moment the criteria means it is absolutely difficult to say that we can play competitive football and believe me I regret it profoundly because I am a football man.

“I am a little bit afraid that to have a complete solution we will have to wait until we have a vaccination programme, but I think the time has come now to think of some hygienic rules.

“For instance to avoid spitting – why do we have to see that in football and not in other sports? This is one of the things we have to consider because this is a real danger in the future.”

On Tuesday it was announced that the French Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons will not resume.

It is not yet known whether the Ligue de Football Professional (LFP) will choose to abandon the season with no promotion or relegation and no champions, or base the outcome of the campaign on current standings.

The Dutch top flight was abandoned on Friday with no promotion or relegation and no champions, while on Monday Belgian clubs postponed a vote on confirming the cancellation of their top flight until next week.

Plans to resume the Premier League season will step up this week in what has been labelled “Project Restart”.

Arsenal, Brighton and West Ham opened their training grounds to players for individual work on Monday.

Credit : BBC

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