Image: Wikimedia Commons / Balkan Photos
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Balkan Photos

Coupe de France suspended amid French lockdown

The French Football Federation (FFF) announced last week that it is suspending the Coupe de France with immediate effect, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the second national lockdown in France.

The federation’s decision also concerns lower French divisions – the National 2, National 3 and the women’s Division 2 Féminine, as well as National Championships for young players.

All matches have been postponed and will be played at a later date.

The top three divisions in men’s football – Ligue 1, Ligue 2 and the National – as well as the women’s top division, the Division 1 Féminine, will continue as planned.

The decision was taken by the FFF following an announcement by French President Emmanuel Macron that the country would enter a second national lockdown from Friday 30 October 2020. France is currently seeing a rapid increase in cases of Covid-19, with the Health Ministry reporting 47,637 new cases on 29 October 2020 alone.

Under the new rules, intraregional travel is no longer permitted, non-essential businesses such as restaurants and pubs, as well as universities must close, employees should work from home wherever possible and people are only allowed to leave their homes for a restricted number of officially recognised reasons.

Minister of Sports and former world swimming champion Roxana Mărăcineanu confirmed before the French national assembly that, unlike during the first lockdown, professional sporting competitions will be allowed to continue. However, as a result of the ban on public gatherings, any events will have to be held behind closed doors.

“The upcoming weeks will be tough economically and humanely. That is why I wanted to confirm this evening that we will assure the continuity of sport which is practiced as a profession. High-level and professional athletes will be able to continue training. They will also be able to participate in competitions since travel for professional reasons is authorised,” she said.

Ligue 1 was suspended on 13 March 2020 after 28 out of 38 matchdays had been played

At the beginning of the pandemic, Ligue 1 was suspended on 13 March 2020 after 28 out of 38 matchdays had been played.

By contrast, the French Cup was almost completed, as the semi-finals were played on the 4 and 5 March 2020. The final was initially due to be played at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on 25 April 2020, however it was moved indefinitely as the pandemic rapidly grew in size.

On 28 April 2020, then-Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced before the French National Assembly that any mass sporting events “which bring together more that 5000 participants” would not be organised before September and explicitly stated that “the 2019-2020 season in professional sports, especially in professional football, will thus not be able to resume”.

Ligue 1 was therefore ended early and a final table was calculated using the points per game system, which resulted in a ninth league title for Paris Saint-Germain.

However, the final of the Coupe de France was rescheduled for 24 July 2020, and saw the Parisian side take the trophy in a 1-0 victory against Saint-Etienne, thanks to a 14th minute strike from star player Neymar.

The French lockdown is provisionally due to last until at least 1 December 2020

The French Cup is held over a fourteen-round format, with the first six rounds being held regionally and organised by local football associations. Ligue 2 teams join the winners of the local competitions for the seventh round, and Ligue 1 teams are added for the ninth round, also known as the round of 64.

Rule changes linked to the coronavirus pandemic mean that this season exceptionally sees Ligue 2 teams join in the eighth round, whilst teams from overseas territories, New Caledonia and Tahiti, are not participating.

It is unknown when the Coupe de France will be resumed. The French lockdown is provisionally due to last until at least 1 December 2020.

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