France’s top two soccer leagues will not see out the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign. Edouard Philippe, the nation’s prime minister, announced on Tuesday that gatherings of more than 5,000 people cannot take place until September at the earliest as the country is battling the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Philippe announced that football, along with all other professional sports in the country, will not be played for the time being.
⚠ BREAKING: French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced that "events that bring together more than 5000 people … cannot be held before September."
"The 2019-20 season of professional sports, which include football, will not resume."
Doubts over PSG and OL in CL.
— Robin Bairner (@RBairner) April 28, 2020
The news comes on the same day that the chairman of FIFA’s medical committee recommended Sept. 1 as the earliest day that soccer should return.
FIFA Medical Committee chairman Michel D'Hooghe does not believe football should return until September 1 at the earliest.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) April 28, 2020
France is not the first European nation to see its top league’s seasons come to an abrupt end. Last week, the Eredivisie announced it would cancel the 2019-20 campaign altogether, meaning that no champion would be crowned and promotion/relegation would be put on hold.
It is unclear if that is a path that Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 will go down — currently, Paris Saint-Germain holds a comfortable 12-point lead on second-place Marseille with a game in hand. The Parisians are the best team in the league, and barring the catastrophe to end all catastrophes, they would have came out on top. However, there is no guarantee that they will be crowned champions, while things like Champions/Europa League spots and promotion/relegation with Ligue 2 still need to be figured out. According to reports out of France, a call will occur on Tuesday evening.
Emergency LFP meeting called for 18:45 local time this evening to decide the outcomes of the 2019/20 Ligue 1 & Ligue 2 seasons following French govt announcement that the campaigns are over.
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) April 28, 2020
On the Champions League, there is no word on how this impacts French teams participating should the tournament resume. PSG and Marseille are both still in the tournament, but ESPNFC reports that there is increasing skepticism that it will be able to resume, regardless.
The decision ends Ligue 1 and Ligue 2’s hopes of returning to training in May for a mid-June restart and puts further pressure on UEFA regarding the Champions League, with Paris Saint-Germain in the quarterfinals and Lyon leading Juventus in their round-of-16 tie. UEFA had planned to play the Champions League to a finish in August but this is becoming increasingly doubtful.
There has been rumblings of potentially resuming Champions League play in August, with the thought being that this would give domestic leagues the opportunity to finish out their campaigns before the focus could turn to European competition. But of course, predicting what will happen in the next day is remarkably difficult while dealing with an unprecedented virus, making the act of predicting what will happen weeks and months down the road next to impossible.