The plan to restart the professional football leagues in Turkey on June 12 will be implemented, Turkish Football Federation (TFF) chief Nihat Özdemir has insisted.
Many Turkish clubs, including the Süper Lig’s Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Kasımpaşa, last week announced coronavirus cases among their players and staff members, casting doubts over the plan to return the competition on June 12 behind closed doors as part of a plan announced by the TFF.
Özdemir said on May 16 that alternative plans had also been prepared, but there was no need to alter the current one.
“This is not a decision we have made alone,” Özdemir said on private broadcaster CNN Türk.
“We are a member of the UEFA and we always make our decisions in consultation with the UEFA,” he said, adding that the European football’s governing body asked its member federations to complete their leagues by the end of July if possible.
Özdemir noted that the plan “for now” was to start the games on June 12.
“We have seven main and three sub scenarios based on different variables,” he said. “We may even start the leagues with spectators in July, what matters is the course of the coronavirus disease. The situation is getting better every day [in Turkey], we are one of the countries that deals with the disease best in Europe and the world.”
The leagues will start behind closed doors with home and away games, but with still a month to go, the situation may change, the TFF chief added.
Özdemir said Germany’s Bundesliga, which ended its break over the weekend, will be a guide for football leagues across Europe.
All precautions to protect human health will be taken when leagues resume in Turkey, he reiterated.
The country’s basketball and volleyball federations last week ended their leagues, without declaring any champions. Özdemir said that does not set an example for football.
“They play in closed halls, we play in open air,” the federation chief said.
“And their clubs do not want to play. In football, 12-13 Süper Lig clubs [out of 18] want to complete the season, First Division teams also want to play.”
The competitions will continue even if more players and staff members test positive for the coronavirus, Özdemir insisted.
“The teams will often test their employees during the preparations,” he said. “There may be positives, they will be eliminated, and the preparations will continue. Bundesliga decided to continue playing even if a team drops down to 14 players, they want to play the games anyway. This our determination, too.”
Özdemir noted that finances were a big part of the decision.
“Almost 40 percent of the income of our four major clubs come from the official broadcaster of the league, it goes up to 80 percent for some teams,” he said.
“Without the games, beIN stopped payments. We have a deal for two more years and we want to continue with them, they are one of our strategical partners and we make decisions after consulting with them.”