Coronavirus: FIFA medical chief says football should wait until September

FIFA Medical Committee chairman Michel D'Hooghe
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FIFA Medical Committee chairman Michel D’Hooghe does not believe football should return until September 1 at the earliest.

Some leagues, including Germany’s Bundesliga, could be back in action in early May while ‘Project Restart’ could see Premier League games being held behind closed doors in June.

France became the latest country to abandon their season on Tuesday, following on from a similar decision in the Netherlands.

But D’Hooghe’s opinion is that it is too early to consider players coming into contact with one another, at least while social distancing regulations are in place, and that even significant levels of testing for coronavirus might not be enough.

“The world is not ready for competitive football, I hope this can change very quickly and I sincerely hope that. Today you need more patience,” D’Hooghe told Sky Sports News chief reporter Bryan Swanson.

“This is the most dramatic situation we have lived in since the Second World War. We should not underestimate it, we must be realistic.

“Football can only be possible if contact is possible again. Football remains a contact sport and avoiding contact is one of the first things everyone says is that you should avoid contact.

“It’s still about social distancing. Testing is an important point but you have to repeat them. If one of the players becomes positive, you have to put the whole group into quarantine. Is that a solution for a normal competition?

D'Hooghe is recommending yellow cards for players seen to spit...if games resume during the pandemic
D’Hooghe is recommending yellow cards for players seen to spit…if games resume during the pandemic

“It’s not a matter of money, it’s a matter of life and death. You cannot play in the Premier League when players are obliged to remain two metres from each other. You cannot ask Liverpool to play Manchester when all the players will keep a distance of two metres between them.

“Have you ever tried playing football in a mask?! This does not avoid social distancing.

“We do not know when it will reach its peak in different countries, it will be different in every country. The solution will only be there the day there is an adequate vaccination programme.”


D’Hooghe also feels changes will have to be made to rules and regulations whenever football returns, including yellow cards if players are seen to spit during matches.

“Football has to be patient. It has to listen to the national authorities, and respect the basic [health] rules,” he added.

“Just because balls might be sterilised, it does not suddenly mean we can play football again”