The new UEFA rules set to deal with the changing landscape and the second wave of Covid-19 cases could result in chaos in the Europa League-more so to Tottenham club.
Tottenham Hotspurs’ participation in the Europa League qualifying stages could be fortified should Britain restrict travel from the country of the team they are playing. This according to the new UEFA rules.
UEFA has approved a new set of rules to “guarantee as much as possible the start and continuity of the qualifying phase and play-offs of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League and 2020/21 UEFA Europa League”.
The football felt the new rules were “justified by the current environment created by coronavirus pandemic and in particular the various travel restrictions which have been imposed across the continent due to the persistence of the sanitary crisis.”
Tottenham is scheduled to begin their Europa League journey on 17th September in the second qualifying round. The draw for the round takes place on 31st August.
Mourinho’s men would need to win the match, a third-round qualifier and then a play-off match to qualify to the group stages. All three games would consist of a single leg.
The new rules suggest that ahead of each draw, all existing travel restrictions from authorities must be known and alternate arrangements made, such as a change in location.
However, the problem lies in a new rule that suggests if a home team’s country of the visiting team after the draw has been made, then the home team must forfeit the game.
Most draws take place two weeks before the matches. But, for the third qualifying round, it takes place on 1st September with the game to be played on the 24th of the same month. This means more than three weeks for the landscape to alter.
The New UEFA Rule
The UEFA rule state: “Restrictions imposed by the national/local authorities of either club in a tie after the deadline for the clubs to inform the UEFA administration in accordance with paragraph l. 1. 1 shall, in principle, not be taken into account”.
“In such cases, the club whose national/local authorities have imposed restrictions preventing the match from taking place as scheduled will be held responsible. Thereof, the match will be declared by the UEFA Control Ethics and Disciplinary Body to be fortified by such club, which will be considered to have lost it 3-0”.
What is the nightmare yet to face Tottenham?
The rule could of course work in Tottenham’s favor should they be the visiting team banned from traveling. That is if a second wave hits the UK.
However, it certainly raises a bizarre scenario that a team from a country with a rise in COVID-19 cases would be granted a bye to the next round. Similarly, the team from the country in a better position would be punished and removed from the competition.
One potential way around it could be if governments make allowances for elite athletes to be exempt from quarantine or travel restrictions due to their regular testing and the sterile conditions they operate in. But, that is a bridge to be crossed when the scenario arises.