FIFA medical chief recommends no games until late August: ‘It is a matter of life and death’

FIFA’s medical chief Michel D’Hooghe has suggested that games shouldn’t return until the end of August in order to combat a potential second wave of the coronavirus. This comes as the French government banned sporting events until September, effectively ending the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season. The Dutch first division’s season has also be called off.

What D’Hooghe suggests is essentially to call off the rest of this season and start up again with the beginning of next season in August or September. He called it a matter of life and death. 

“If they could start the season 2020-21 end of August or beginning of September I would be happy,” he told The Daily Telegraph  . “Then they could eventually avoid a second attack from the virus, which is not impossible. Everyone has to be very careful for the moment. I have heard in many countries they are thinking about playing football again, with or without the public.

“In my long career, I have seen many situations where there has been a balance between economic and health. Mostly the economics won, whether that was about jet-lag or football at altitude or in extreme conditions such as pollution situations. If there is one circumstance where medical arguments should win against economical arguments, it is now. It is not a matter of money, it is a matter of life and death. It is very simple.”

Leagues all over the world have been postponed for at least a month due to the COVID-19 situation, while Bundesliga clubs have returned to limited training and are aiming to resume play potentially by May 9 without fans. The Premier League, La Liga and Serie A are hoping to resume play in the next month or two. 

Summer competitions Euro 2020 and the Copa America were pushed back a year to try and allow clubs the chance to finish out their seasons, with most teams having about 10-15 games left in league play. Numerous domestic and continental cups also have yet to be completed in Europe, while in Asia South Korea’s first division is set to return to the field on May 8. 

It’s unclear at this time how leagues or governments will take these comments and if they would push them to consider the possibility of shutting down the season. In the cases of France and the Netherlands, the government of each country banned sporting events which forced the leagues to call off the remaining matches. 

A La Liga official told CBS Sports on Tuesday that they were surprised by Ligue 1’s season ending and that the Spanish league is still working on plans to resume play by late May or early June. 

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