The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the world of sport, and football has possibly been the most affected by it all.
Leagues across the globe were suspended for months, some even cancelled with the team leading the way given the title. France’s top division, for example, decided to scrap the 2019/20 campaign and declared Paris Saint-Germain champions.
The mass cancellation of competitions led to many concerns across the UK, one of the main ones being the effect it may have on the development of young players.
And the latest blow to the next generation is the cancellation of the 2020-21 UEFA Youth League, which was confirmed this week.Embed from Getty Images
Liverpool u19s were scheduled to take on Olympique de Marseille in the round of 64 next month, but this will now no longer go ahead.
A statement from UEFA said: “The UEFA Executive Committee has decided to cancel the 2020/21 edition of the UEFA Youth League due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects on the staging of competitions.”
The decision has come as a shock to many. UEFA consider it to be safe to allow the Champions League and Europa League to continue, despite it involving the same amount of travel as the Youth League.
As long as regular Covid testing takes place, there is no reason that the competition couldn’t be safe to play – just like the senior tournaments.
What does this mean for players?
The announcement will be a big shame for young starlets, who will no doubt have been looking forward to travelling and testing their mettle against some of the best teams in the world. The cancelling of the competition will most likely have big implications on the rest of their careers.
The opportunity to play the best players in your age gap is the best way to improve in football and being denied a year of that could have a huge impact. It is a key stage in your career that helps you to take the step up to senior football, as you get more use to the speed and physicality of the game.Embed from Getty Images
For Liverpool, top academy prospects such as Paul Glatzel, Leighton Clarkson and Marcelo Pitaluga will all miss out on vital game time for their development.
On a brighter note, most of these players will continue to get game time in the Premier League 2. Hopefully the scrapping of the Youth League won’t have too much of an impact on their development, but only time will truly tell.
It is a shame – and it once again highlights the focus on money that exists in the current game.
The senior competitions are being allowed to continue in part due to the high TV revenue they generate, along with all the advertising money through high broadcast audiences.
It feels like the youth competition has been cancelled because there is very little money in TV revenue and advertising, as once again the commercial aspect of the game shines through.
If UEFA is serious about nurturing a bright future for the next generation of talent, it’s vital to ensure next season’s youth competitions can go ahead.
If not, the body risks not allowing young talent to blossom into a new wave of superstars.
Don’t miss a thing
Get new content delivered directly to your inbox. It’s free!