Coronavirus: The Netherlands bans professional sport until September due to pandemic

Dutch FA: "The board of professional football intends not to continue playing the 2019-20 league."

Hakim Ziyech in action for Ajax during an Eredivisie match against ADO Den Haag
Image: Hakim Ziyech is due to join Chelsea this summer and may have played his final game for Ajax

The Dutch FA says it is not intending to continue the 2019-20 season after a government ban on events was extended until September 1.

The KNVB had planned to resume the suspended football season for the top two divisions on June 19, behind closed doors.

But a three-month extension to the government ban was announced on Tuesday - meaning the season is over, pending consultation with UEFA.

All major public events, including professional sports and music festivals, are prohibited until September 1 to prevent a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte looks on during a press conference after the consultation of the Ministerial Crisis Management Committee (MCCb) about the COVID-19 outbreak
Image: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has extended the ban on major public events by three months

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: "It's better to be cautious now than to have regrets later.

"I would love to say we could go a lot further. But that is very scary and dangerous. We see a little improvement in the data, but just imagine that we would relax some measures, causing the virus to peak again.

"That's something we all absolutely don't want."

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A subsequent statement from the KNVB said: "No professional football can be played, even without an audience, until September 1.

"As a result, the board of professional football intends not to continue playing the 2019-20 league.

AZ Alkmaar are behind leaders Ajax on goal difference with nine games to play
Image: AZ Alkmaar are behind leaders Ajax on goal difference in the Eredivisie

"Based on the government's decision today, the KNVB will consult with Uefa after which a decision will be confirmed.

"On Friday, the clubs and other parties involved will meet to discuss the consequences."

Ajax currently lead the Eredivisie - but only on goal difference from AZ Alkmaar.

UEFA softened its tone on Tuesday toward competition organisers who want to end seasons early before completing all games.

A statement read: "There was a strong recommendation given to finish domestic top division and cup competitions, but some special cases will be heard once guidelines concerning participation to European competitions - in case of a cancelled league - have been developed."

UEFA said any decisions on those guidelines would be announced after Thursday's meeting of its executive committee.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands rose in the past 24 hours by 729 to 34,134, health authorities said on Tuesday, with the total deaths standing at 3,916.

Restaurants and bars were ordered to remain closed for another three weeks until May 19.

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