Exclusive Interview with Mr. Ahmed Khellil Abbassi, Executive Director of Competition and Football Development, Qatar Stars League.
Mr. Ahmed Khellil Abbassi, Executive Director of Competition and Football Development at the Qatar Stars League (QSL), spoke about the general plan for players to return to training after the end of their annual vacation in preparation for the resumption of 2019-20 QNB Stars League.
The following is the Exclusive Interview:
Mr. Ahmed Abbassi, the competitions will return after a long break. How do you view it?
It’s a positive step towards returning to normal life after a break. We should all adapt to and coexist with the current situation, so that things will return to how they were before the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19), taking into account safety and security measures for everyone.
We noticed a lot of engagement from the players during the break, through the commitment to distance training. How did you see that?
This period was very important for players to maintain fitness, as we noticed a great commitment being shown by them. The technical staff also developed appropriate programmes for distance training and they followed the players, either in person or via GPS devices.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the clubs, coaches and players for the great co-operation from their side during this difficult period, which reflects on the professionalism and discipline that we’ve achieved.
The QSL has taken many necessary measures to ensure players’ safety when they return to training. What’re the most prominent among them?
Ensuring the health and safety of players as well as technical and administrative staff is one of the most important priorities of QSL. Accordingly, we’ve developed a protocol approved by the Ministry of Public Health, taking into account the examples and protocols for leagues that have resumed again, as this protocol aims to minimize and control the risk of the virus for the teams and players when they return to training and matches while following all preventive and precautionary measures.
Also, according to the protocol and general plan, there’ll be three phases:
The first phase is the beginning of training after being tested negative on COVID 19, as per the precautionary measures. Training will resume on 10th June.
The second phase is team training in group after being tested negative on COVID 19 on the second examination, as per the precautionary measures.
The third phase is the start of official competitions and matches conforming to the approved precautionary measures and protocol for match-day operations.
It may be noted that there will be an educational video for players to explain the protocol and general plan, and a workshop will be organized to explain each phase for technical, administrative, and medical staff.
Will the players, technical and administrative staff undergo coronavirus (Covid-19) tests?
Yes, the coronavirus (Covid-19) tests will be carried out in the first phase on two occasions, the first on 8th and 9th June, and the second on 24th of the same month.
Is there co-ordination/arrangement for referees?
All procedures involving the players will also be applicable for the referees. There’s co-ordination/arrangement with the Referees’ Committee of Qatar Football Association and Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology will be used in all games.
When will the QNB Stars League schedule be announced?
Co-ordination is currently taking place between all authorities concerned to develop the final schedule and it’ll be announced officially after its approval.
As the weather gets hotter, will the air-conditioned stadiums be used for matches?
Yes, air-conditioned stadiums will be used after co-ordination and co-operation with the Ministry of Culture and Sports and Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, and the venues will be announced along with the schedule.
What’re the precautionary measures to be taken during the matches?
A protocol for match-day operations has been developed in co-operation with all parties concerned to ensure the safety of all and it will be announced before the start of competitions.
Are there arrangements for the media and Host Broadcaster?
There’re many media measures that will be followed during the resumption of matches to ensure the safety of everyone. Press conferences for clubs before and after the matches will be cancelled, and there’ll only be statements through the social media platforms of clubs and QSL. Journalists won’t be allowed to cover matches at the venue and QSL will provide the media with all necessary details. As far as the Host Broadcaster is concerned, we co-ordinated with them to explain the precautionary measures and the need to reduce the number of workers to a minimum, knowing that all of these steps to be followed will be evaluated according to the developments that take place.
FIFA recently approved five substitutions in a match for the remainder of this season. Will it be implemented?
The five substitutions approved by FIFA will be implemented, allowing teams to use a maximum of five substitutes on three occasions during a game.
What’re the latest developments on the extension of players’ contracts with the clubs?
Work is currently underway to co-ordinate with competent authorities in order to finalize the matter as early as possible.
About the resumption of this season’s Ooredoo Cup… Has it been included in the general plan and calendar?
The Ooredoo Cup is part of this season’s plan and its remaining schedule will be announced for completion at a later time when approved.
How will the changes this season affect the start of the 2020-21 season and the calendar in general?
FIFA has given the confederations the option to play or postpone the national team matches scheduled in the September FIFA Window as scheduled on the official FIFA calendar. Furthermore, the AFC has until now not announced its calendar amendments for various championships, be it for national teams or clubs. Therefore, we are awaiting the decisions on those dates to finalize the plan for the 2020-21 season, in alignment with the Asian and international calendars.
It should be noted that various phases have been laid out requiring co-operation from all parties concerned and that the measures and protocols will be subject to continuous evaluations and reviews adaptively according to the latest developments.