UEFA medical chief Professor Tim Meyer has said it is “definitely possible” to plan for the suspended 2019-20 season to restart, a day after his FIFA counterpart warned against resuming play before September.
Speaking before France’s Ligue 1 became the second major European league to be cancelled after the Dutch Eredivisie, FIFA’s Michel D’Hooghe told Sky Sports on Tuesday that it was not possible to play football before social contact was permitted and that he felt September was a realistic target.
But Meyer, chairman of UEFA’s medical committee as well as the newly-formed UEFA medical sub group examining issues around a return to play, took a different view.
“In discussing any return to playing competitive, elite level football, the health of the players, all those involved in potential games and the public at large is of paramount importance,” he said in a statement.
“All football organisations which are planning the restart of their competitions will produce comprehensive protocols dictating sanitary and operational conditions ensuring that the health of those involved in the games is protected and the integrity of public policy is preserved.
“Under these conditions and in full respect of local legislation, it is definitely possible to plan the restart of competitions suspended during the 2019-20 season.”
FIFA’s Michel D’Hooghe said he felt it would be best for football to plan to return in September (Martin Rickett/PA)
The Premier League continues to work towards a possible return in early June, and has advised clubs to recall players and staff who may have travelled abroad with a view to training beginning in May.
The league was clear, however, that any return to training next month is subject to the easing of lockdown measures and will be as a result of government advice.
Premier League clubs are due to be briefed on various aspects of its ‘Project Restart’ at a meeting on Friday, including plans for testing and the possibility of games being played on neutral territory.
The Premier League’s medical adviser Mark Gillett, along with the Football Association’s head of medicine Charlotte Cowie, is understood to be part of a group of medical officials from sports governing bodies who will meet on a weekly basis with representatives from Public Health England, in talks led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.