Doha, 2 September 2020 - Ahmed Khellil Abbassi, Executive Director of Competitions and Football Development, Qatar Stars League (QSL) speaks about the season that went by and preparations for the 2020-21 QNB Stars League which starts on Thursday.
On evaluation of the 2019-20 QNB Stars League season
It was an exciting and difficult season in terms of competition between the teams from beginning till end and for various positions.
The season also witnessed some rare challenges and difficulties, especially during the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which led to the stoppage of football activity before it was successfully resumed by adhering to the approved health protocol developed by the QSL in co-operation with the Ministry of Public Health and Aspetar Hospital. Aligning with the plan to complete the 2019-20 season, I would like to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Interior, Qatar Red Crescent, Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Qatar Football Association, Aspetar Hospital, clubs, players, technical, administrative as well as medical teams, and everyone who worked with and supported us in facilitating the successful resumption of the league championship.
The 2020-21 season QNB Stars League is starting this Thursday (September 3). What are the special plans ahead of its launch?
Preparations and arrangements are well made for the launch of the league in the new season in co-operation and co-ordination with the authorities concerned and partners. A meeting was held with club coaches to explain the season’s plan and listen to their comments and suggestions, which were taken into consideration by QSL.
With regard to the health protocol and match-day operations, it has been decided to follow the same protocol that was implemented post-resumption, such as periodic coronavirus tests (Covid-19) for players, technical and administrative staff of clubs and all workers associated with the matches, to ensure the health and safety of everyone.
We are also into the fourth stage of health protocol from the beginning of September, and we stress that strict controls are needed for teams, players and everyone in order to implement all precautionary measures. Lifting some restrictions does not mean that there’ll be complacency in implementing the procedures of health protocol.
The new season is starting immediately after the previous season. Will that have an impact on the players and teams?
I think the impact will be positive because the clubs are ready as we saw in the last five rounds of 2019-20 season, where competition was intense and technical as well as physical levels gradually rose.
What’s the criteria by which the schedule is finalised and changes are made to some weeks and matches?
It must be emphasised that we believe in embracing changes based on reality and developments, and discussions that take place with all partners, including the clubs, are taken into consideration. The Competitions Department of Qatar Football Association always discusses all perceptions and proposals while giving shape to the season’s calendar and we, at the QSL, are keen on setting the schedule for league matches suiting all parties concerned and after co-ordination with them.
What is the criteria for determining the stadiums for matches and their readiness to host competitions?
A number of factors were taken into account to determine the stadiums, including their readiness, schedule of specific periodic maintenance, tournaments and matches hosted in Doha during the upcoming period, most notably the 2020 AFC Champions League.
Will the five substitutions continue to be applicable during the new season after FIFA approved them during the final stages of 2019-20 season?
Yes, the five substitutions approved by FIFA will continue to be applicable from the final stages of 2019-20 season, allowing teams to make a maximum of five substitutions on three occasions during the match and between the two halves, in order to help coaches and players maintain the technical level of teams.
We’re facing some other challenges during the new season and we’re confident of achieving common success with all our partners and stakeholders. We’ll continue our work with everyone in order to present the season in the best possible way, on the technical and organisational fronts, as we’re keen at QSL to achieve our goal of making QNB Stars League the best in Asia.
Emphasis must be on the importance and necessity of the commitment of players and everyone towards the implementation of approved protocol and all precautionary measures, which’ll be subject to continuous evaluation in accordance with the latest developments.