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Champions League and Europa League finals to go ahead behind closed doors

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 02: Ueefa Champions League logo during the UEFA Champions League group F match between FC Barcelona and Inter at Camp Nou on October 02, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/MB Media/Getty Images)

Uefa has announced that the “final eight” tournaments of its Champions League and Europa League competitions are set to go ahead behind closed doors in August. 

Last month, the governing body for European football chose the Portuguese capital of Lisbon as the destination for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final of the Champions League, while the German cities of Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Gelsenkirchen and Cologne will host the same stages of the Europa League.

There had been some discussion as to whether a limited number of tickets may be made available to fans, as venues around the world have begun to reopen at reduced capacity following the Covid-19 pandemic. Uefa has decided that the logistical challenges and risks posed by doing so would be too great.

A statement from the body read: “Several elements were taken into account by Uefa when making a decision, such as the protection of the health of all those involved in the matches as well as the public at large; a responsibility to provide the safest environment for matches in order to guarantee the progress of competitions; as well as ensuring sporting fairness within a very inconsistent landscape (with some countries allowing and some forbidding stadium attendances). 

“In light of the current situation, the Uefa Executive Committee felt it prudent to conclude that Uefa matches should take place behind closed doors until further notice.” 

The decision also applies to the Women’s Champions League, which will have a similar final eight tournament in Spain in August, and to the remaining round of 16 games in the men’s Champions League, which Uefa has confirmed can be hosted by the home teams involved. 

Only four games remain of the round of 16, with the first legs having all been completed. Uefa was reportedly considering moving those fixtures to Portugal as well, but has decided that they are to be played in their intended venues. 

It also appears likely that next season’s Champions League and Europa League will get underway without spectators, after Uefa said that European football would remain behind closed doors “until further notice.” The competitions are currently set to begin the 2020-21 campaigns in October.