Kosovo team forfeits Champions League game over virus cases

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — A club from Kosovo had to forfeit its Champions League qualifier Wednesday because players tested positive for COVID-19, the first time UEFA had to make such a ruling during the pandemic.

UEFA said KF Drita must forfeit its preliminary round game in the 2020-21 competition and awarded it as a 3-0 win for Northern Ireland’s champion Linfield.

The teams could not play a scheduled game Tuesday at an empty stadium next to UEFA’s headquarters after the Drita squad was put into quarantine by local public authorities.

Two players had tested positive for COVID-19 in Switzerland since last Thursday and exposed other players to infection.

UEFA’s updated Champions League rules and protocol for playing games safely hold teams responsible if they cannot fulfil qualifying fixtures.

An urgent ruling was given by the chairman of UEFA’s appeals committee, Pedro Tomás of Spain, because the next round is pending.

Linfield now advances to play Legia Warsaw in a single-leg game in Poland next Tuesday.

The Linfield-Drita game was just the third game scheduled in the 2020-21 competition. The qualifying rounds are overlapping with the final knockout stages of the 2019-20 edition which resumed Wednesday at the quarterfinals.

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