Covid outbreak wouldn't cause Ireland to forfeit Euro play-off, Uefa confirm

It was confirmed that once 13 players are available from a submitted squad list of 23, the play-offs must proceed
Covid outbreak wouldn't cause Ireland to forfeit Euro play-off, Uefa confirm

Stephen Kenny’s Ireland side will face Slovakia on October 8 behind closed doors

The Republic of Ireland would not be forced to forfeit the upcoming Euro 2021 play-off against Slovakia if an outbreak of Covid-19 besets the squad.

At today’s meeting of Uefa's executive committee in Budapest, it was confirmed that once 13 players are available from a submitted squad list of 23, the play-offs must proceed.

If they have less, the European governing body will allow a rescheduling up to the international window in May/June just before the deferred finals.

That policy differs to the club competitions, where 3-0 walkovers will apply in the Europa and Champions League in cases where the 13-player threshold cannot be reached.

Czech Republic failed in their bid to have their recent Nations League game against Scotland postponed after their squad were forced into quarantine. The Czechs, using an entirely new squad and staff, went down to a 2-1 loss.

Slovan Bratislava are currently appealing their expulsion from the Champions League.

Uefa granted Faroese side KI Klaksvik a 3-0 win in the qualifying round due to positive Covid-19 tests in the Slovan squad. Linfield also availed of a walkover against Kosovar champions KF Drita for similar reasons.

Stephen Kenny’s Ireland side will face Slovakia on October 8 behind closed doors at the renovated national stadium in Bratislava.

Should they progress from that semi-final, which will be decided by extra-time and penalties if needed, a November 12 meeting with the victor from the other semi-final between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Northern Ireland will decide who advances to next summer’s Euro finals.

Two of Ireland’s group games would be held in Dublin, were they to qualify for a third time in a row.

Also agreed today in Hungary was the expansion of substitutions to five for all international games, as well as club matches from the group stages.

Only three were allowed in the opening pair of Nations League fixtures earlier this month, a restriction Kenny bemoaned following their 1-0 defeat to Finland in Dublin.

Kenny will have a hectic schedule in 2021 regardless of whether he can guide Ireland to the Euros.

Triple-headers for next March and September across seven-day international windows have been sanctioned to ensure no delays in qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The draw is due to be held in November.

Meanwhile, AC Milan have confirmed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss today’s Europa League match against Bodo after testing positive for Covid-19.

The Swedish legend scored in last Thursday’s 2-0 second qualifying round win over Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.

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