UEFA Takes Champions League Knockout to Lisbon

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Football governing body in Europe, UEFA, plans to organize an eight-team mini-tournament in Lisbon, Portugal from August 12 to August 23, 2020. The knockout tournament is to produce a winner for the 2019-2020 UEFA Champions League which regular proceedings were disrupted by the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic in March.

Before the pandemic forced football to a halt, there were still four-second leg matches of the Champions League round of 16 that were yet to be played. They were postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic and they are yet to be rescheduled as at the time of writing this report.

UEFA‘s executive committee is expected to meet on Wednesday to agree on the date and venue the remaining four round of 16 fixtures will be played. According to a report by Sky Italia, only the committee has the power to approve the plan to play the eight-team tournament in Lisbon instead of the usual home and away format from quarter-final to the semi-final.

Recall that the UEFA Champions League final was earlier scheduled to take place at Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey on May 30 but wasn’t possible because of the pandemic.

In the new arrangement, the final will be held in Benfica’s Stadium of Light on August 23. The handlers of this same stadium bid for the hosting right of the UEFA Champions League final before the outbreak of the pandemic but they were turned down. Ataturk Olympic Stadium was chosen ahead of the Stadium of Light.

The quarter-final and the semi-final of the knockout tournament will be held in two venues around Lisbon – Benfica home ground and nearby sporting Lisbon stadium. The four quarterfinal matches will take place on consecutive nights from August 12 to August 15. While the two semi-final matches will also take place in two consecutive nights from August 18 to 19.

The 8-team tournament became the most likely options because most countries still have inter-country entry restrictions in place due to the pandemic. Besides that, UEFA would be able to guarantee the safety of the players, coaching crew and the officials of the football governing body if the tournament is played in a safe and controlled environment.

The UEFA Champions League trophy
The UEFA Champions League trophy

More so, if UEFA fails to organise the tournament or go ahead with the continental league, the governing body will lose out from the opportunity of generating €2 billion revenue from broadcasting rights. The revenue is shared with participating clubs and it is part of the prize money for the competition.

In the other hand, Europa League will also have a mini-tournament. But in the case of the Europa League, the mini-tournament will be hosted by four cities in Western Germany. The finals will no longer take place in Gdansk, Poland, but in Cologne, Germany on August 21.

When the UEFA executive committee meets on Wednesday, the committee is expected to agree on how the postponed matches in the Europa League round of 16 will be played. Only six first-leg of the round has been played, while two matches – Milan Vs Getafe and Roma Vs Sevilla, are still pending from the round.