Ahmed Khellil Abbassi, Executive Director of Competition and Football Development at the Qatar Stars League (QSL), speaks about the general plan for players to return to training after the end of their annual vacation in preparation for the resumption of 2019-20 QNB Stars League.
The competitions will return after a long break. How do you view it?
It’s a positive step towards returning to normal life after a break. We should all adapt to and coexist with the current situation, so that things will return to how they were before the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19), taking into account safety and security measures for everyone.
We noticed a lot of engagement from the players during the break, through the commitment to distance training. How did you see that?
This period was very important for players to maintain fitness, as we noticed a great commitment being shown by them. The technical staff also developed appropriate programmes for distance training and they followed the players, either in person or via GPS devices.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the clubs, coaches and players for the great co-operation from their side during this difficult period, which reflects on the professionalism and discipline that we’ve achieved.
The QSL has taken many necessary measures to ensure players’ safety when they return to training. What’re the most prominent among them?
Ensuring the health and safety of players as well as technical and administrative staff is one of the most important priorities of QSL. Accordingly, we’ve developed a protocol approved by the Ministry of Public Health, taking into account the examples and protocols for leagues that have resumed again.
Also, according to the protocol and general plan, there’ll be three phases:
The first phase is the beginning of training after being tested negative for Covid-19. Training will resume on 10th June.
The second phase is team training in group after being tested negative on Covid-19 on the second examination.
The third phase is the start of official competitions and matches conforming to the approved precautionary measures and protocol for match-day operations.
Also, an educational video to explain the protocol and general plan, and a workshop will be organised to explain each phase for technical, administrative, and medical staff for players.
Is there co-ordination/arrangement for referees?
All procedures involving the players will also be applicable to the referees. There’s co-ordination/arrangement with the Referees’ Committee of Qatar Football Association and Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology will be used in all games.
When will the QNB Stars League schedule be announced?
Co-ordination is currently taking place between all authorities concerned to develop the final schedule and it’ll be announced officially after its approval.
As the weather gets hotter, will the air-conditioned stadiums be used for matches?
Yes, air-conditioned stadiums will be used after co-ordination and co-operation with the Ministry of Culture and Sports, and Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, and the venues will be announced along with the schedule.
What are the precautionary measures to be taken during the matches?
A protocol for match-day operations has been developed in co-operation with all parties concerned to ensure the safety of all and it will be announced before the start of competitions.
Are there arrangements for the media and Host Broadcaster?
Press conferences for clubs before and after the matches will be cancelled, and there’ll only be statements through the social media platforms of clubs and QSL. Journalists won’t be allowed to cover matches at the venue and QSL will provide the media with all necessary details. As far as the Host Broadcaster is concerned, we co-ordinated with them to explain the precautionary measures and the need to reduce the number of workers to a minimum, knowing that all of these steps to be followed will be evaluated according to the developments that take place.
FIFA recently approved five substitutions in a match for the remainder of this season. Will it be implemented?
The five substitutions approved by FIFA will be implemented, allowing teams to use a maximum of five substitutes on three occasions during a game.
What’re the latest developments on the extension of players’ contracts with the clubs?
Work is currently underway to co-ordinate with competent authorities in order to finalise the matter as early as possible.
About the resumption of this season’s Ooredoo Cup… Has it been included in the general plan and calendar?
The Ooredoo Cup is part of this season’s plan and its remaining schedule will be announced for completion at a later time when approved.
How will the changes this season affect the start of the 2020-21 season and the calendar in general?
FIFA has given the confederations the option to play or postpone the national team matches scheduled in the September FIFA window. Furthermore, the AFC has until now not announced its calendar amendments. Therefore, we are awaiting the decisions on those dates to finalise the plan for the 2020-21 season, in alignment with the Asian and international calendars.(QSL)
Qatar coach Sanchez names squad for summer training camp
Qatar coach Felix Sanchez yesterday announced a squad of 34 players for a summer training camp, Qatar Football Association (QFA) has confirmed. The Spaniard has invited the players for the June 12-July 3 camp after co-ordinating with QFA, the Qatar Stars League and the clubs.
QFA said the players and the coaching staff will strictly adhere to medical protocols outlined by Ministry of Public Health.
The Qatar squad will gather to prepare for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers set to be held later this year. Qatar has three more matches to qualify for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup to be held in China.
Squad: Mohamed al-Bakri, Bassam al-Rawi, Mohamed Ayyash, Sultan al-Berik, Asim Madbo, Karim Boudaif, Abdullah Abdel Salam, Ismail Mohamed, Abd al-Rahman Mohamed, Mohamed Montari, Al-Moez Ali, Saad al-Sheeb, Meshal Barsham, Pedro Miguel, Khoukhi Boualam, Tariq Salman, Abdel Karim Hassan, Mohamed Waad, Hassan al-Haydos, Akram Afif, Youssef Hassan, Mahdi Ali, Hammam al-Amin, Moayad Hassan, Ahmed Alaa, Musab Khader, Ahmed Fathi, Jassem Jaber, Youssef Abdel Razzaq, Mohamed Salah, Abdulaziz Hatem, Fahd Younis, Ahmed Moeen and Ahmed Suhail
Coach: Felix Sanchez
Asian football getting ‘closer’ to return: official
Asia’s Champions League is getting closer to a return but it will have to wait until domestic competitions are back in action, a senior football official told AFP yesterday.
Football is gradually resuming around the world after closing down because of the coronavirus, although most leagues are still yet to return.
Asian Football Confederation general secretary Windsor John said: “We are approaching closer to the return of football.”
“We have to wait for all the domestic leagues to start first,” added John, when asked about the return of the AFC’s club tournaments.
The AFC Champions League, Asia’s top club competition, and the second-tier AFC Cup have both been on hold since March, along with World Cup and Olympic qualifiers.
Of the 12 countries involved in the Champions League, South Korea is the only league back in action, with four more restarting in June or July and Thailand scheduled for September.
John said the AFC was “still in discussion” about when its competitions will restart, declining to reveal a possible date.
Asked if there were any proposals to change the tournaments’ home-and-away format to avoid potential infections, John said talks were ongoing.
John said it was a “positive sign” that sport was beginning to return around the world, adding that the AFC had several contingency plans to cope with travel restrictions.
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