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UEFA Direct issue No. 191: The story behind Return to Play

After football’s longest period of inactivity since WWII, our official magazine looks at what it took to get UEFA competitions off and running again in August.

Read the UEFA Direct magazine for a comprehensive overview of the beautiful game in 55 European countries. Published quarterly and available as an interactive PDF in English, French and German

In the tough months of uncertainty when the COVID-19 pandemic brought football to a standstill, UEFA joined forces with Europe’s national associations, clubs and leagues to draw up a unique blueprint to return to play. The latest issue of UEFA Direct (No.191) gives an in-depth account of how European football overcame unprecedented obstacles to ease domestic and UEFA competitions back into business.

In this edition:

Aleksander Čeferin: In a wide-ranging interview, the UEFA President underlines how a common spirit of unity and solidarity has driven the work to put football back on track

Preparing to play: Challenges faced by the decision-makers in planning football’s return; factors and criteria behind key decisions; and how UEFA will ensure the safety and health of everyone involved in its matches

Return to Play timeline: New dates for this and next season’s club competitions, plus all the revised national team competition schedules

UEFA Strategy: How UEFA’s five-year business plan aims to help European football withstand the shock of COVID-19 and adapt to sport’s ‘new normal’

The Technician supplement: Coaches, players, referees - and an astronaut

As elite football competitions resume across Europe, UEFA Direct and its technical supplement, The Technician, report on the way football’s specialists have adapted to the unique situation:

• Trainers: How trainers have helped players maintain fitness during the long COVID-19 lockdown; and the challenges of getting them match fit again

Referees: UEFA’s lockdown training programme has helped Europe’s top referees keep in shape… physically and mentally

• Fitness coaches: The dangers of returning to football after a long pause and limited preparation time; and possible steps to reduce the risk of injury

• Experts: Expert opinion on the positives taken and lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis

• Astronauts: French astronaut Thomas Pesquet offers key lessons for footballers from his six months in space

National associations: Coping with COVID-19

UEFA’s 55 member associations give a Europe-wide perspective on how different football associations have coped with the COVID-19 crisis and what will be their future challenges in a changed world.

Elsewhere in UEFA Direct 191:

Football Federations of the Future: The UEFA GROW initiative enabling national associations to establish clear visions and strong strategies

Club Licensing Report: How the system is implemented across Europe

UEFA’s Coaching Convention: Setting benchmarks for the future

UEFA Football and Social Responsibility Report: Showcasing football’s power to help sustainable development

UEFA Foundation for Children: Five years of bringing light to children’s lives