After several selectors requested it, UEFA on Tuesday authorized the teams to play the next Eurocup (June 11-July 11) to summon 26 players instead of the usual 23, to face the risks of contagion by coronavirus and possible quarantines.
On the other hand, in order not to demarcate from the football laws, governed by the International Board (Ifab), only 23 players may appear on the sheet for each match, the European body specifies in a statement, so the selectors will have to adjust this list as the duels progress, thanks to the three additional players.
The coaches have until June 1 to submit their list of 26 players to UEFA. But between that date and their first match, they may freely substitute a player in the event of “serious injury or illness”, proven with a medical certificate. “Players who tested positive for covid-19” or those who were isolated as a “contact case” fall into the category of “serious diseases,” adds UEFA. On the other hand, the goalkeepers may be substituted before each match “in case of physical incapacity, even if one or two goalkeepers from the list are still available”, the executive committee decided.
Claimed by several coaches in the face of the risk of the pandemic influencing the squad, this expansion of the main roster is unprecedented since the national teams went from 22 to 23 players at the 2001 Confederations Cup. special “for the European Championship, aimed at ensuring” the proper development and continuity of the competition during the pandemic, “says UEFA, and not the final adoption of a” list of 26 “in selection.
On paper, this measure favors nations endowed with a dense reserve of players, but also coaches will have to face the task of piloting larger groups, a delicate task, since they will have to leave three players in the stands in each game .
“We have not had positive cases, but I think that with fatigue” and the health crisis, passing 26 players “would be a good thing, provided that they can all be on the match sheet,” said Didier Deschamps, the French coach, during the concentration of March, in the qualifications for the World Cup 2022.
Roberto Mancini and Roberto Martínez, Italy and Belgium coaches, had been the most fervent advocates of this measure, recalling that potential substitutes in the event of serious injury or illness could be on vacation. “The ideal would be to have an additional goalkeeper, a defender, a midfielder and a forward, on a list of 26 or 27,” said Roberto Martínez at the end of March.
Less enthusiastic, England coach Gareth Southgate was not “100% in favor of longer squads”, he pointed out at the international truce in March, after England-Poland (2-1). “I know that the covid could play a role (in the tournament), but I think that choosing 23 players is a competition,” the former international had specified. “You have to make good decisions, important decisions, and a part of that can be lost if you have a large group.”
The UEFA executive committee had decided at the end of March authorize up to five player changes per game and per team during the Eurocup, a measure already taken by other competitions in the face of the health crisis.
Already postponed one year due to the pandemic, the continental tournament will be played in eleven cities in eleven different countries, after Bilbao and Dublin were ruled out on April 23, as they could not guarantee the presence of spectators, and that Seville recovered the matches planned in the Basque city.
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