Belgium 'mass events' ban extension puts Pro League in doubt

(File)
(File)

The Belgian government announced on Wednesday that mass events will be banned until 31 August, a decision that will have an impact on sport, especially football and cycling.

The containment measures in force in Belgium since mid-March have been extended until 3 May and no "mass event" can be held before 31 August, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said.

The decision makes it almost impossible to resume the current Belgian football league and means next season is likely to start behind closed doors.

"An analysis will be made next week," said Interior Minister Pieter De Crem.

The Belgian Pro League board had already suggested the current season should be declared over.

UEFA had responded to recommendation by threatening to ban from European competition all clubs that are members of a federation that had brought its domestic competitions to a "premature" and "unjustified" end.

But the decision is expected to be ratified by its clubs on 24 April.

Unless it is allowed to play behind closed doors, the Belgian campaign will not be able to come to an end and Club Brugge, would be crowned champions and qualify for the group phase of the next Champions League.

The national road-race cycling championship originally scheduled for 21 June but postponed until 23 August would also be in danger.

A championship behind closed doors seems to be the only option. But the mayor of the host town, Anzegem in Flanders, is opposed.

"We cannot organise a Belgian championship without fans or VIPs, when at the end of August many people are on holiday," mayor Gino Devogelaere told the Belga press agency.

There is also the question of the financing of the event since several sponsors, in financial difficulty, have withdrawn.

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