Why Belgium prematurely ended professional season
IMAGE: Club Brugge were declared champions while a five-man working group was set up to decide the issue of relegation and promotion. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters
Belgian football defended its decision to end the season in a call with UEFA on Friday after the governing body threatened countries that do not attempt to complete their league campaign with a ban from continental club competition.
Belgium's Pro League on Thursday cancelled the remainder of the season, which has been suspended from last month because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Club Brugge were declared champions while a five-man working group was set up to decide the issue of relegation and promotion and places in next season's European club competitions.
But the league was almost immediately rapped over the knuckles when UEFA told members it was of "paramount importance" that competitions, including domestic leagues, were decided on the field and that stopping should "really be the last resort".
It appeared to suggest that, where competitions did not end on the field, the clubs involved might not qualify for European competition next season.
"Since participation in UEFA club competitions is determined by the sporting result achieved at the end of a full domestic competition, a premature termination would cast doubts about the fulfilment of such condition," a letter signed by UEFA, the European Club Association and the European Leagues umbrella group said.
The Belgian football association (KBVB) said it explained the motivation for the cessation of this season's league campaign on the grounds of public health and economics.
It also said it told UEFA they did not agree to an approach that forces leagues to continue their season during the current general health crisis, on pain of being excluded from next season's competitions.
"Both the KBVB and the Pro League are strong supporters of European football solidarity. It is precisely from this solidarity that our representatives advocated a policy that would make it possible to deal with this situation while respecting the specific context of each league," a statement said.
It added that the parties planned to talk again next week.
The majority of Belgium's professional clubs had been agitating for a cancellation of the season because of a mounting costs amid no revenue while the country has had more than 1,000 deaths from the deadly flu-like virus.