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The finals of the Champions League and Europa League will be staged as eight-team, single-match knockout tournaments in Portugal and Germany respectively in August.

The decision to kick the competitions back into action was taken by a video conference of the executive committee of European federation UEFA.

No decision has yet been taken about whether any fans may be able to attend. This rests with the authorities of the host nations with a decision to be taken no later than the middle of next month.

Istanbul, which lost the chance to stage this season’s Champions League Final because of the coronavirus pandemic, will play host next year with previously allocated venues for the subsequent years being pushed back a year: St Petersburg in 2022, Munich in 2023 and Wembley in 2024.

The 2020 UEFA Super Cup which was originally due to be hosted by Porto, will now be played at the Puskás Aréna in Budapest on September 24.

‘Almost normal’

Looking ahead, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “Football is leading the way back to an almost normal life and I’m proud of the fact that footballers [such as Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford] are leading some of the debates over today’s important issues.

“The decision in March to postpone Euro 2020 was a bold one but, I still believe, the right one because it enabled the leagues to resume and play to a conclusion.”

Ceferin, explaining the choice of Portugal to stage the Champions League finale, said: “The Portuguese FA were the first to say that, if we needed help, they were ready to do it. They were in regular contact with their government and they could easily organise an event like that. It was not a fight between Germany, Spain and Portugal. They all offered us help.”

He insisted that the mini-tournament concept was a one-off choice and was not a pattern for future seasons.

Giorgio Marchetti, UEFA’s deputy general secretary, set out the reorganised schedule which brings a start for the 2020-21 Champions League group stage in October and the play-offs for the Euro finals in triple-header national team weeks in October and November.

Marchetti said: “The Champions League quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will be played as a final eight straight knockout tournament in Lisbon between 12-23 August.

“The remaining round-of-16 second legs will be played on 7-8 August depending on a decision to be taken over whether they will be played in the home team venues or in Portugal. If in Portugal then the venues of Porto and Guimaraes will be added to Lisbon.

“For the Europa League the final rounds will be be played as a straight-eight knockout tournament in Cologne. Dusseldorf and Gelsenkirchen between 10-21 august with the round of 16 on 4-5 august with a venue decision later.

“The outstanding ties between Inter and Getafe as well as Sevilla and Roma, which were postponed, w ill be played as a single leg in Germany.”

Poland pushback

Gdansk, the original 202 host, will stage the 2021 final with Sevlla and Budapest pushing back a year each to 2022 and 2023.

The remaining matches of the Women’s Champions League will be staged as a final-eight knockout tournament in Bilbao and San Sebastian between 21-30 August with San Sebastian staging the final. Subsequent finals will be staged in Gothenburg in 2021, Turin in 2022 and Eindhoven in 2023.

Ceferin added: “The football community has worked together and shown tremendous unity during this unprecedented crisis.

“It is of the utmost importance for us not only to complete our men’s and women’s competitions but also to finish our youth and futsal competitions whenever possible.

“We are firm believers of their importance and significance of the overall growth and development of the game, and I am delighted that we found solutions to stage the final rounds of all those competitions.

“Particularly with the Women’s Champions League, it was important to send a strong signal that it is possible to complete this season, in a time where women’s sports have suffered substantially.

“This competition has exciting times ahead with the format change in 2021-22 and we want to enhance the momentum in the women’s game, not lose it.”

Source: Keir Radndedge| AIPS Football Commission Chairman

www.sports24ghana.com

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