Chelsea’s Unvaccinated Players Set to Miss UCL Tie at Lille

UEFA has warned that Chelsea may have to leave unvaccinated players at home when they travel to France to face Lille in the last 16 of the Champions League next month.

The Blues are due to play Lille at Stamford Bridge on February 22 with the return tie against the French champions taking place in northern France on March 16.

However, France is tightening its Covid rules insisting that all professional athletes competing in the country are vaccinated against the virus.

UEFA has now said ‘in principle’, it expects teams to comply with local laws around Covid.

French lawmakers have modified the country’s coronavirus health pass into a vaccine pass.

The Sports Ministry said on Monday there would be no exemption from a new vaccine pass law approved on Sunday, which requires people to have vaccination certificates to enter public places.

“This will apply to everyone who is a spectator or a professional sportsperson. And this until further notice,” the ministry said.

The French position is also expected to impact Real Madrid, who travel to Paris Saint-Germain on February 15 for the first leg of their knockout tie.

UEFA says it is still in discussion with stakeholders over its plans for the knock out stages of the European competitions and more guidance will be provided.

Last season, European club matches were moved to neutral venues where country’s had imposed travel bans as a result of Covid rules.

However, this situation is different in that the travel ban does not apply to everyone, only specific individuals who have not been vaccinated.

In these circumstances it would be harder to justify moving the entire fixture to another country and stadium.

In addition, UEFA’s President Aleksander Ceferin has spoken strongly in support of vaccination for Covid.

“The specific conditions under which matches are played in each country are subject to the decisions of the competent authorities in that country,” UEFA said in a statement on Thursday.

“Each team will in principle be required to comply with the applicable rules in the country where the match takes place, but the specific competition annexes – still under elaboration – which contain special rules due to COVID-19 applicable to the knock-out phase, may provide further guidance in this regard.”

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