With many leagues across Europe, including the English Premier League fixtures, resuming, attention now turns to the continent’s showpiece. UEFA is set to announce the format for the latter stages of the Champions League at a key meeting on Wednesday which will also raise the thorny issue of the postponed, pan-continental Euro 2020.
Like most professional sport around the world, the Champions League was put on ice in March – without the completion of the last 16 stage.
Europe’s football governing body had hoped to finish its flagship competition– along with the Europa League and women’s Champions League – by the end of June.
But it soon became apparent hat was overly optimistic.
Nevertheless, UEFA has for some time been working on a way of completing its season in August, which looks feasible as leagues restart and the European death toll from Covid-19 slows.
UEFA Champions League fixtures: How it might work
An Executive Committee meeting, to be held by videoconference, is set to approve the idea of a “Final Eight” in Lisbon, as widely reported by media across Europe in recent days.
That would mean finding a way to play out the four remaining last 16, second legs before bringing together all the quarterfinalists in Portugal’s capital for a series of one-off games to crown the European champions. According to reports, the final would be on 23 August.
In the current context, grouping all teams together in one place and reducing travel is the wisest solution, although it remains to be seen how many fans, if any, could attend.
Football in most countries is being played behind closed doors.
But UEFA’s meeting comes in the same week many EU member states – Portugal included – opened to foreign visitors.
The final was scheduled to be played in Istanbul on 30 May and only last week Turkey’s Sports Minister, Mehmet Kasapoglu, expressed confidence that the city would not lose out.
“I have no doubt it will take place in the best way in Turkey. We’re confident that we will receive good news on 17 June,” he said.
The New York Times reported last month that Istanbul could instead be awarded a future final, when it is safe for fans to travel in large numbers.