Dutch teams get ready for European football; No "home" match for AZ Alkmaar

2018-2019 UEFA Nations League match ball
The official match ball of the 2018/2019 UEFA Nations League. Sept. 4, 2018Photo: katatonia82 / DepositPhotos

European football federation UEFA announced that Champions League qualifiers will take place on August 25 or 26, meaning Dutch team AZ Alkmaar will not be able to play their home match in the Netherlands. The country currently has a ban on paid professional sporting events and events which draw a large crowd until at least September 1, because of the country's response to the global health crisis. 

Four other Dutch teams playing in European football matches, including Ajax, Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven, and Willem II. They will not be affected by UEFA's scheduling. Ajax is likely to play on the 22nd, 23rd, 29th and 30th of September in Champions League play, while Willem II has their first Europa League match on September 17. PSV will play a week later.

Meanwhile, UEFA said it supported Dutch association KNVB's decision to cut the 2019-2020 season short and to award teams positions in the Champions League and Europa League based on the teams' standings at that time. The decisions by the KNVB were mired in controversy when they were announced to the public.

UEFA Deputy General Secretary Giorgio Marchetti said at a press conference last week that the KNVB took the European organization's guidelines, and stuck to them. AZ Alkmaar and FC Utrecht both sent cases to UEFA showing their displeasure at the way the KNVB handled the situation. 

AZ Alkmaar felt that they should have been given the Champions League place without having to qualify having beaten league leaders Ajax twice. Nevertheless, Ajax was at the top when the league was halted on account they had a stronger goal differential. The KNVB used the final league standings before the season was halted to decide who punched their ticket to the Champions League, who would go to the Europa League, and who would remain in the Netherlands.

FC Utrecht was one of the clubs in the latter category. They were scheduled to play the Dutch cup final de KNVB Beker against Feyenoord, with the winner receiving a Europa League spot. The Utrecht squad accused the KNVB of not trying hard enough to reschedule the match.