GENEVA (AP) — The champion of Slovakia on Monday became the second team to be removed from the Champions League qualifying rounds after players tested positive for COVID-19.
UEFA said its appeals committee made an urgent ruling that Slovan Bratislava must forfeit its first-round qualifying game against KÍ Klaksvík as a 3-0 loss after it was twice postponed in the Faeroe Islands last week.
Public authorities in the Faeroes had put two separate squads of players from Slovakia into quarantine because of positive tests by individual members of the visiting club’s group.
UEFA competition rules during the pandemic give authority over COVID-19 cases to local health officials who can effectively stop a game being played.
The UEFA rules are being tested as teams from 55 countries begin to compete in qualifying games through September.
Neutral venues are an option if a country’s pandemic situation means it cannot stage games organized by UEFA, whose president has identified a potential problem.
If governments or public officials overreach their authority to prevent games, UEFA head Aleksander Ceferin told The Associated Press on Sunday, “then we will have to think that the teams from those countries will have to play on a neutral ground.”
Kosovo league title winner Drita went out of the Champions League when it was prevented by authorities in Switzerland from playing a preliminary round game at a stadium next to UEFA’s headquarters. Two players had tested positive ahead of playing Northern Ireland’s Linfield.
On Monday, UEFA removed a second Kosovan team, Prishtina, from the Europa League preliminary round.
Multiple members of the Prishtina delegation, including around 10 players in squads who arrived on two different flights, tested positive and were put into quarantine in Gibraltar last week. The club had made emergency loans of players from other clubs to fulfil the UEFA fixture.
Prishtina’s game against Lincoln Red Imps was twice postponed, leading UEFA to declare a 3-0 win to the home team.
Lincoln Red Imps should now host Union Titus Pétange of Luxembourg on Thursday in the Europa League first qualifying round.
AP Global Soccer Writer Rob Harris in Lisbon, Portugal, contributed to this report
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