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FIFA’s chief doctor suggests to avoid restarting seasons

If it were up to FIFA’s chief doctor, the current European seasons would not resume.

Michel d’Hooghe, the chair of FIFA’s medical committee, told BBC Sport on Tuesday that he does not think leagues in the old continent should resume. Soccer around much of the globe has come to a halt because of the COVID-19 outbreak, but there have been increasing talks of restarting some of the competitions in the coming weeks.

That is something d’Hooghe does not agree with, however.

“My proposal is, if it is possible, avoid playing competitive football in the coming weeks,” d’Hooghe told BBC Sport. “Try to be prepared for the start of good competition next season.”

Currently, European leagues have a deadline of May 25 to inform UEFA as to whether they plan to complete or cancel their current campaigns. UEFA’s preference is for seasons to be finished, but not every top tier will have the chance. For instance, Ligue 1 just had their season ended on Tuesday after the French prime minister put a ban on sporting events until September.

Leagues like the German Bundesliga and English Premier League are currently planning to resume action in the coming weeks, however.

“There is a risk and it is not a risk that has small consequences,” said d’Hooghe. “It can have consequences of life and death and that is why I am so careful and I ask everyone to be very careful before deciding to play again.

“I speak as a medical doctor. I don’t have to speak as an organizer of matches, but for the moment from my medical standpoint I would be very skeptical (of returning to play).”


  1. Well, when would a medical practitioner ever advise someone to do something even the least bit risky?

    This “wait until fall” stance going around is super interesting given the belief in another wave coming through at that time.

    Reality is, we’re gonna have to learn how to live alongside this thing for the interim. I don’t think avoiding doing anything indefinitely is the answer to that. If you can create highly sterile environments, why not get back to doing stuff again?

    Definitely worth keeping an eye on some of the leagues starting back up (Korean baseball)…or even the ones still going (Belarusian Premier League, which doesn’t seem to have been slowed at all despite a general lack of government-mandated precautions) to gauge feasibility of resumption.

    • which is why i would say the better advice is 2021. i get what you’re saying but the argument melds both taking this unseriously (take the summer risk) and yet seriously (but what about a fall spike). i think if you believe the epidemiology and common sense. you wait this out until 2021. that it won’t be “down” long enough to finish, and that you take seriously that it will still be “up” this summer and only get worse again. i see the wait til summer stuff as optimism in the hope there is no return visit or annual coronavirus season. in terms of flus and coronaviruses that seems naive. so to me it’s either a very short summer season or try to wait this out. i understand that drives sports fans nuts but if coronavirus doesn’t drop off or comes back we’re going to have tough public health and economic questions to solve, and sporting events as traditionally understood are just massive gatherings of people. you can do closed doors but that’s still a smaller but significant gathering if the virus is back.


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