Doha, 1 September 2020 - The 2019-2020 football season has been a long phase that sports fans won’t forget in a hurry because of the Covid-19 situation around the globe. In general, the Qatar Football Association (QFA) took the lead in making the decision to conduct local competitions, making Qatar one of the first countries in the region to resume football in accordance with health and safety protocols approved by the government.
The QFA decided to resume local football activities for the 2019-2020 season between July 24 and August 26 after a circular issued by the Qatar Olympic Committee to sports federations requiring the completion of the current sports competitions for the season.
In this regard, Hamad al-Mannai, Chairman of the Competitions Committee of the QFA, has provided a detailed explanation that shows the complete roadmap of the game in the next few months and beyond. Excerpts from an interview.
Q: How do you see the resumption of football activity with the
precautionary measures taken by the QFA and the Qatar Stars League?
At the outset, I would like to emphasise that the Qatar Football Association was one of the first sports federations to resume football activity in co-ordination with all concerned authorities in the country and in accordance with precautionary measures to confront the spread of the Covid-19 disease. QFA employed an integrated plan that was developed in consultation with all relevant authorities, whether in QFA, QSL, or the concerned authorities in the country, especially the Ministry of Public Health.
We started with medical examinations of players and technical staff for the start of the football activity in the QNB Stars League matches and the games of the Second Division League. This also included referees and their assistants.
QFA and the Qatar Stars League have also implemented a media protocol for the media so they could cover training sessions, press conferences and post-match sessions. The aim of these protocols was to ensure the safety of everyone associated with football. This was followed by a decision to allow a limited number of fans back in the stadiums.
Q: What about the start dates of the other QFA competitions and what are the most prominent changes?
The Second Division competitions will start on September 20, which will be limited only to the following clubs: Al Shahaniya, Al Shamal, Mesaimeer, Muaither, and Al Markhiya. There will be no participation from Al Bidda, Al Waab and Lusail. The Qatargas U-23 League will start on 9/10/2020.
The 2020-2021 sports season will be the last of the Qatargas U-23 competition and it will be replaced by the Reserve League competition starting from the 2021-2022 season, while preserving the name of the commercial sponsor, with the participation of only division clubs participating in the QNB Stars League for the 2021 sports season. Also from 2022, with the abolition of the U-23 category list, a total of 28 players will be registered in a unified category of the first and reserve teams.
Q: Will there be specific amendments to the regulations for the 2020-2021 season?
The most prominent modification is the cancellation of the playoff match to settle the tie for first place, as the tie will be broken by several tie-breakers, which are:
1. The difference in goals scored in the matches of the concerned teams (head to head results), with the goal not counting with two goals outside the ground.
2. Goal difference in all matches.
3. The largest number of goals in all the matches of the competition.
4. Most wins in all the matches of the competition.
5. Obtaining the least number of coloured cards (red and yellow), where the yellow card is counted with one point and the direct or indirect red card with three points, and in the case of the direct red card after the yellow card, the two are counted with four points.
6. A draw between equal teams.
We have also made an amendment to Article 124 of the Discipline Regulation related to decisions subject to appeal, whereby the suspension clause has been amended to become three matches instead of two.
Q: What are the players’ registration periods for the new season and were there exceptions regarding transfers of players due to the current circumstances?
Indeed, the current circumstances imposed a new reality and it was necessary to make some exceptions regarding player transfers as the Executive Committee of QFA considered granting some players the freedom to move to any other club.
This is after their contracts expired at the end of June 2020 and so that the player does not remain away from action. As for the registration periods for the new season, transfers of players are allowed during the stipulated transfer period only, which is in two periods. The first registration period will start from 2/8/2020 to 10/25/2020 while the second period starting from 1/1/2021 to 1/31/2021.
Q: Will there be amendments regarding the number of players in the match list and what about substitutions?
It was agreed to increase the number of players in the match list for (QNB Stars – Second Division – Under-23) league matches from 18 to 23 players, provided that the number of substitute players registered and on the reserve board does not exceed more than 12.
Regarding the substitutions, each team will be allowed to make a maximum of five substitutions during one match, provided that the substitutions would be made in three calls during the course of a match.