UEFA give Champions League all-clear

Thursday, March 01, 2001
UEFA have confirmed that next week's European matches will go ahead, despite the recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

With doubt being cast over a host of sporting events, football's European governing body believes the games should go ahead as normal.

There remains concern on the continent about the ability of the disease to spread at speed and all anyone travelling abroad has been told is that they will not be allowed to take food with them.

Arsenal are scheduled to face Spartak Moscow, Leeds travel to Real Madrid, and Manchester United are away at Panathanaikos, for the latest round of Champions League games, while Liverpool face Porto in Portugal in the Uefa Cup quarter-finals.

"There is no reason for these games to be cancelled," said a UEFA spokeswoman. "We have not had any notification that the matches should be cancelled.

"We have followed the news in Britain and are aware of the position of the British government and at the moment the games will be played normally."

But UEFA acknowledge that they cannot order the games to take place, should national governments request that the matches are postponed.

"It is a national issue and we cannot force the games to take place," added the spokeswoman. "But we have had no contact from any of the clubs involved and there is no reason to believe they will be called off."

There was also a boost from the British government, as they confirmed that the clubs had been told that they could travel without any sizeable risk.

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport added: "The risk of the spread of the disease by humans is minimal.

"Our advice is that unless the clubs are travelling from a restricted area, then the games can all go ahead as planned."