England’s September Nations League games away to Iceland and Denmark are almost certain to be postponed, as Fifa currently explore two primary options to fulfil the international calendar over the next 18 months. Those are an extended “rugby style” break at the end of 2020, or more space in 2021.
While the uncertainty around the coronavirus crisis meant those post-summer games were likely to be put back anyway, the world governing body are keen to give sufficient space for the domestic leagues to get up and running, as the “bread and butter of the game”.
There is similarly a recognition that players can hardly be expected to play international football just as efforts are made to get the club game back. National federations are still under as much economic pressure as clubs, since they need international games for funding, and thereby need some kind of roadmap for the next 18 months beyond a rescheduled Euro 2021.
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Fifa are thereby currently exploring two primary options. Both involve domestic football being played straight through September and October, without an international break.
The first option would be for an extended international break over November and December, that could take in as many as three to six matches per country – akin to rugby union.
The second would be to add an extra match-date onto the November 2020, March 2021, June 2021 and September 2021 windows, so national teams play three games in each rather than the usual two.
There is naturally optimism that a deal can be struck on either. This new goodwill has also been one other effect of the Coronavirus crisis. While the situation has created many problems at club level of the game, sources at the higher levels say it has actually fostered better relationships between the overall bodies.
There had previously been acrimony over Fifa’s attempts to shoehorn a new 2021 Club World Cup into the calendar, but the decision to postpone that was a key fist step. The governing body similarly backed Uefa and Conmebol on moving Euro 2020 and the Copa America. ”The tension has calmed,” one source said.
England are currently scheduled to play Iceland in Reykjavik on 5 September, and Denmark away on 8 September. Both are now virtually certain to be moved.
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