Examine the numbers behind the return to play, hear from UEFA deputy general secretary Giorgio Marchetti on how it was achieved and watch In The Bubble – the UEFA.tv documentary on August’s finals.
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As the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League group stages come to a conclusion having suffered minimal disruption over the past eight weeks, the health protocols and logistical efforts continue to help deliver European football in a safe environment.
Organising four final tournaments in four different countries – in under two months – to conclude the 2019/20 club season was an unprecedented feat in world sport. UEFA’s return to play in August had to consider national jurisdictions, with a medical protocol developed that could be applied across the board. It also put in place the framework for matches to continue to be played, including during the busy group stage of the senior men's club competitions.
As UEFA deputy general secretary Giorgio Marchetti explains, it has taken a real collective approach. “The football community really worked together,” Marchetti said. “Without the joint work and unity of intents with national associations, leagues and clubs nothing would have been achieved.”
That collaborative spirit will be vital going forward. “We have kept the same strong determination towards all matches this season,” Marchetti added. “Everybody watched the final eight tournaments in August and many high-profile games since. What almost nobody knows is that from the beginning of August, 1,000 UEFA matches have been played.
“All the Champions League and Europa League qualification rounds (not one single club was excluded from the access list), then the group stage of both competitions, three men’s and two women’s international windows, Under-21s,” he said. “There are many restrictions and a strict protocol to apply with an incredible number of tests on all teams, but these difficulties don’t scare us.”
Since August, every single UEFA association has hosted a European club or international match. The slow reintroduction of fans back into stadiums was piloted at the UEFA Super Cup and has been carefully rolled out, depending on local restrictions. “The Super Cup was an important milestone,” Marchetti said. “Everything was handled very professionally.
“Fans are football’s lifeblood and have come back once conditions are appropriate. That is why we decided to allow a limited capacity of stadia to be filled wherever this is allowed by the competent authorities and with the necessary measures in place.”
Watch how the return to play was delivered in August in this fascinating UEFA.tv production, In The Bubble.