Football Association asks UEFA for extension on venue confirmation
The governing body of European football, UEFA, gave Estonia until September 24 to confirm the venue for home matches in the European Championships qualifying rounds. The government did not reach a decision on quarantine-free travel for athletes on Thursday however, leading the Estonian Football Association (EJL) to apply for an extension.
The Estonian men's national football team is set to host North Macedonia and Armenia in October, but as of the situation now, those matches can not be held on Estonian territory.
The Estonian Football Association (EJL) applied for a government exemption on Tuesday, September 22, allowing third country football national teams to enter Estonia for UEFA European Championships qualifying matches without the 14-day coronavirus isolation requirement.
Mihkel Uiboleht, head of the cooperation department at EJL, told ERR on Thursday: "[The government] did not reach a decision but they might do so next week. Our task is to try to discuss it with UEFA to get a few days extenstion on the decision. That is our main task now.
"Since the decision was not made, meaning they did not get to discuss it, it still leaves ends open and we will try to keep it on the table until next week," Uiboleht added.
He continued: "We will have to explain it to them (UEFA - ed.) that coronavirus infection rates have surged in Estonia lately and the entire package needs detailed review and that will take time in this situation."
Uiboleht said: "Regularly, UEFA sets all things in stone a long time ahead, but in this corona-situation, there have been changes made in the last moment and therefore we hope that they will meet us halfway and we can get this extension and forward our final answer next week. We're working toward that."
If the extension is not granted or the respective government decision comes back negative for the EJL, home matches will have to be played elsewhere as the women's national team did on September 22, playing a home match against Russia in Jurmala, Latvia.
"That has always been plan B, in case we can't play in Estonia, the alternative is to play abroad. That has to be concretely planned and agreed. We do have some readiness for it but we will not implement it before we need to. And we hope it will not be needed at all."
The government is set to discuss the athlete travel exemption on Tuesday next week. A similar exemption was established for WRC Rally Estonia in early-September.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste