Premier League football (soccer) matches have been suspended in England until April 3rd due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, a group of the country’s major football bodies has announced. It comes on the same day UEFA announced that all Champions League and Europa League matches next week have been postponed. In addition to the Premier League, all other top level English fixtures have also been cancelled Sky News reports.
With Arsenal players in isolation due to being in close contact with infected Olypiakoas owner, this was bound to happen. Two high-profile cases of COVID-19 have been reported within the English footballing community, while Everton recently announced that its squad was in isolation because of the virus, Sky News notes. The Premier League says it’s hoping to reschedule any cancelled matches. The announcement comes as numerous sports fixtures around the world are being cancelled over the now-pandemic. In the US, the NBA and NHL have both suspended their seasons, while across Europe football leagues have been suspended in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Ireland, according to Sky News.
The Premier League said play will start on 4 April subject to “conditions at the time”. FA chairman Greg Clarke is known to have expressed his fear at Friday’s emergency meeting that the season may have to be abandoned. England’s international friendly matches against Italy on 27 March and Denmark four days later are off. The EFL, which hopes to resume play a day earlier than the Premier League on 3 April, said clubs were also advised to suspend “non-essential activities” such as “player appearances, training ground visits and fan meetings”. The Euro 2020 play-offs have also moved closer to being postponed after Fifa recommended that all impending internationals should be called off. Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic are all scheduled to play their semi-finals on 26 March, with the finals five days later.
The suspension comes on a day of widespread sporting postponements worldwide.
- The London Marathon has been moved from 26 April to 4 October, with the Manchester and Brighton Marathons also postponed.
- Uefa has postponed next week’s Champions League and Europa League fixtures.
- In rugby union, Saturday’s Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland has been postponed, as has Sunday’s Premiership Cup final between Sale and Harlequins.
- Cycling’s Giro d’Italia, scheduled to start in Hungary in May, has been called off.
- England’s Test cricket series in Sri Lanka has been cancelled.
- Golf’s opening major of the year, the Masters, has been postponed.
- Formula 1 has called off the Vietnam Grand Prix on 5 April.
- Formula E is suspended for two months, affecting races in Paris, Seoul and Jakarta.