UEFA is considering allowing the teams playing the next Euro (June 11-July 11) to summon more than 23 players, as several coaches are calling for in the face of the health crisis.
“UEFA is considering the issue. No decision has been taken yet,” a spokesperson told AFP on Thursday, responding to a question about appeals from the coaches of Italy, Belgium. and France to expand the number of teams.
Such a measure would be unprecedented since the national teams went from 22 to 23 players, during the 2001 Confederations Cup: it would favor nations with a very dense reservoir, but would also require the management of larger collectives, a task humanly delicate.
Roberto Martinez, at the head of the Belgian selection, campaigned on Wednesday so that the selections could count “26 or even 27 players” because of the Covid-19, in a statement to the newspaper La Dernier Heure.
“There are discussions, especially with England and Italy. Everyone reacted in the same way. Enlarging the group, with for example one more player per row, would be a correct decision,” added the Spanish coach with the Belga news agency on Wednesday.
– “Chain, chain, chain” –
Italian coach Roberto Mancini defended the same idea after Nazionale’s victory in Lithuania (2-0) in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, completing an exceptionally busy international break.
“I do not know if UEFA will listen to us. I think it could be a relevant reflection, it would be a problem to lose players during the Euro. Possible replacements would then be on vacation,” said the Italian technician.
Didier Deschamps, who has noted for several days the state of fatigue of the players, faced with a schedule turned upside down by the Covid-19 pandemic and after a truncated summer preparation, recalled that they would have to “chain, chain, chain” until ‘to the Euro.
“I also think that if UEFA looked into the subject of being able to expand the list, by two or three players, that would be a good thing, provided they can all be on the scoresheet. ‘has not had a positive case but I think that with fatigue and all that (the Covid-19), it would be a good thing, “added the coach of the Blues.
Less enthusiastic, England coach Gareth Southgate knows “there are discussions” on this subject but is “not 100% favorable” to larger squads, he explained on Wednesday after his team’s victory against Poland (2-1).
– On the menu for April 19? –
“I know the Covid could play a role, but I think choosing 23 players is a skill,” said the former international. “You have to make good decisions, important decisions, and part of that may be lost if you have a large group.”
UEFA is holding its next executive committee on April 19, on the eve of its congress, after deciding at its last meeting on Wednesday to allow up to five player changes per match and per team during the Euro, a measure already in force in other competitions.
On the menu for April 19 are already the reform of European club competitions beyond 2024, the Champions League in mind, as well as the detailed organization of the Euro.
Already postponed for a year due to the pandemic, the continental tournament is to be held in 12 host cities in 12 different countries, a challenge made even more complex by UEFA’s desire for all stadiums to welcome the public.
On Wednesday, the body lifted the limit of 30% of spectators per stadium that it had defined last October for its competitions, leaving the local authorities to freely set the gauges.
© 2021 AFP
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