Football national team and clubs could play matches in neutral countries ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Estonian men's national football team.
Estonian men's national football team. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

After the cancellation of a Europa League meeting between Estonian side Nõmme Kalju and Slovenian club NŠ Mura on on Thursday, the Estonian Football Association (EJL) says there is a precedent now of holding matches on neutral grounds, even in foreign countries, in the future.

Mihkel Uiboleht, head of communication at EJL, said: "I don't know what UEFA (governing body of international football - ed.) will decide going forward regarding the match, or other matches, but the initial signals are that if there are countries where international fooball can't be played, matches are canceled - they could relocate the matches to neutral grounds in the future."

He continued: "It is the reality of coronavirus, we must take it into account - can we allow it in some cases or not? We might have to play matches in other countries."

The situation might not just be limited to European club series but even national team match-ups. The men's national football team is to host Georgia on August 5.

Uiboleht noted: "We hope it can happen according to plan but there might be supplemental regulations and questions from UEFA. They consider it very important to have a guarantee that these matches will happen. That risks would be minimized.

"[UEFA] will certainly make an initial decision soon. The discussions will most likely continue in a disciplinary committee," Uiboleht said.

Aivar Pohlak, head of the EJL, told portal Soccernet on Friday: "We have been in constant communication with UEFA yesterday and today (Thursday and Friday - ed.) and we only have a few days to ensure that the Nations League match between Estonia and Georgia can take place next Saturday."

He continued: "We had a clear understanding that earlier regulations set by the Ministry of Culture were enough to hold international matches."

Pohlak noted: "The alternative is to hold the match in a third country, which is not normal, considering that Estonia is one of the few countries who would not have the opportunity to play at home. I don't like speaking of damages but undoubtedly - football would suffer financially and the reputation for both football and the country would suffer."

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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