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Fifa: Football ‘quite different’ until vaccine developed

Kai Havertz scores from the penalty spot

The football environment will be "quite different" until a vaccine for coronavirus is developed, Fifa has told its member federations.

It also expects that regular testing will "most likely" become part of the game in future, with physical distancing predicted to be in place long term.

A set of 'medical considerations' were developed by a special Fifa working group and sent out to member associations, as well as a risk assessment tool that will help countries determine when it is safe for football to resume.

Fifa says everyone involved in staging football matches has a "responsibility" to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"Planning for a safe return to football must start now given the health, social and economic benefits of the game globally," the official guidance says.

"Football governing bodies must come together to cautiously and methodically prepare for a post-pandemic return to footballing activities."

Fifa's message comes as the Premier League prepares to resume on 17 June, having been shut down since 9 March, and many other major European Leagues are in the process of returning to action.

Uefa hopes to complete the 2019-20 Champions League and Europa League in August but is yet to finalise its plans.

The Fifa working group acknowledged some long-lasting changes to the game.

The guidance - joint effort in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other stakeholders - encompasses the whole game, from amateur to international football.

The use of testing has differed between leagues, but the guidance says: "In the future, regular testing (possibly both PCR and antibody testing) will most likely be a component of group training, play and travel."

The risk assessment requires detailed planning of events, including who would use personal protective equipment (PPE), detailed cleaning schedules and plans for the isolation of positive cases.

It has been specifically adapted for football from a risk-assessment tool put together by WHO for mass gathering events.

Once organisers have input the risks and mitigations, they will be given an "overall risk score" for the event ranging from "very low" to "very high".

Although Fifa appears to be encouraging planning for a return of all levels of football, it emphasised that this should not compromise the health system or health of those involved.

It said that "protecting the health and well-being of every individual globally remains of paramount importance" to the organisation.

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