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French football and rugby seasons facing cancellation with team and contact sport off until September

The French prime minister confirmed the measures as part of a gradual plan to lift coronavirus restrictions in the country.

A view of the Stade de France, Paris.
A view of the Stade de France, Paris.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

FRENCH PROFESSIONAL SPORT’S 2019/2020 seasons, including those of football and rugby, are set to be cancelled after it was confirmed major sport will not be permitted to resume in the country before September.

Prime minister Edouard Philippe made the announcement as part of a gradual plan to lift coronavirus restrictions in France. He said no event where more than 5,000 people gather would be allowed until at least September, nor would “team or contact sports”.

The news is also likely to affect the Tour de France, due to embark from Nice on 29 August and where huge crowds would be expected to gather at the start and finish lines.

“The 2019-2020 professional sports leagues, notably football, cannot yet restart,” Philippe told a televised address to French parliament at the National Assembly.

“I would like to be precise here: no large sports gathering or any gathering of 5,000 people or more, needing the permission of the local police and long prior arrangements, will be allowed before September,” Philippe said.

The announcement appears to scupper the plans of French football’s top division Ligue 1 to start again in June with players being recalled as of 11 May. It could also provide a problem for Uefa, who were looking into completing football’s continental club competitions in August.

It’s understood that French football league officials will meet next month to discuss the matter further, during which time they are expected to make decisions on the awarding of titles as well as promotion and relegation as they pertain to Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.

The picture for rugby is currently less clear, but the Top 14 will now not resume as planned in August.

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France is currently under a nationwide lockdown until 11 May and around 23,000 people have died so far of coronavirus-linked illnesses in the country.

© AFP 2020

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