Sports

Premier League, Champions League call off matches

The Premier League and the Champions League were both suspended on Friday as the chaos stemming from the coronavirus outbreak continues to impact soccer.

Matches in England will be stopped until at least April 3 after five Premier League clubs said some players or staff were in self-isolation. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for the virus, as has Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi.

“I had the virus for the last couple of days, which I’ve recovered from,” Hudson-Odoi said in a video posted on social media. “I’m following the health guidelines and self-isolating myself from everybody for the week. I hope to see everybody soon and hopefully be back on the pitch very soon. Take care.”

UEFA said it was stopping next week’s games in all competitions, including the two remaining Champions League matches which had not been already called off — Bayern Munich vs. Chelsea and Barcelona vs. Napoli, both scheduled for Wednesday.

Games involving Juventus and Real Madrid had already been postponed because those clubs quarantined their players.

The decision from UEFA comes four days ahead of a meeting to decide the European soccer calendar, including the possible one-year postponement of the 2020 European Championship.

Eight Europa League games scheduled for next Thursday were also postponed. The quarterfinal draws in both the Champions League and Europa League, scheduled for next Friday, were postponed as well.

Earlier Friday, Everton said one of its players had reported symptoms consistent with coronavirus. Bournemouth later said reserve goalkeeper Artur Boruc and four members of staff also had symptoms. Leicester said Thursday that three players had “extremely mild illness.”

The suspension in England also covers the Championship, League One, League Two and the top two women’s divisions.

The French league also suspended games Friday.

The German football league on Friday halted first division Bundesliga games with immediate effect over the pandemic, the first such suspension since World War II.

“Given the developments of today with new coronavirus infections and suspected cases directly linked to the Bundesliga and the 2nd division, the German Football League has decided at short notice to postpone today’s matches,” said the league in a statement.

Soccer in Scotland was also postponed Friday until further notice, hours before a game was due to start. That measure also affects Sunday’s Old Firm match between Glasgow rivals Rangers and Celtic. Domestic games in Wales and Northern Ireland are also off.

Four places in the 24-nation lineup for Euro 2020 still have to be decided in playoffs scheduled for March 26 and 31. Those playoffs seem unlikely to be played on time.

The Euro 2020 tournament was expected to be played in 12 host nations.

The plan requires teams, fans and officials to travel across the continent — an added risk to spread the virus.

After more than half of the host nations suspended their domestic leagues, or will play without spectators, Russia said it was willing to take on extra European Championship games on top of its current allotment of four in St. Petersburg.

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