Victor Osimhen Champions League Hopes Crushed As French Ligue 1 Ends Prematurely

LilleÕs Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen (L) gestures during the French Cup football match between Epinal and Lille at the stade de la colombiere in Epinal, eastern France, on January 29, 2020.

Super Eagles trio Victor Osimhen, Moses Simon and Simon Kalu have had their Ligue 1 season truncated prematurely after the French government banned all professional sports events including behind closed doors, until September because of coronavirus restrictions.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe made the announcement on Tuesday as part of a gradual plan to lift the lockdown in France.

French Football Federation (FFF) had hoped to resume the season on 17 June and finish the campaign on 25 July.

Football was suspended indefinitely in France on 13 March.

No decision has yet been taken over the awarding of titles or promotions and relegations, with reports in France suggesting that the Ligue de Football Professionnel will meet next month to decide the outcomes.

The same goes for European qualification, with UEFA announcing last week that it will use on-field performance to determine which clubs make up next season’s European club competitions.

If league seasons cannot be finished, it said national associations would need to select clubs to qualify for Europe.

This means Victor Osimhen’s Lille will miss out on Champions League qualification as they sit in fourth place just a single point behind Rennes who occupy the final Champions League spot.

It is a crushing blow to Osimhen’s hopes of featuring in Europe’s premier competition next season and could hasten his departure from the club with many European heavyweights already weighing up moves for the 21-year-old star.

Defending champions Paris St-Germain are 12 points clear of Marseille at the top of Ligue 1, with 10 rounds of matches and one outstanding fixture left to play.

Toulouse are bottom of the table, 17 points from safety, and 10 points behind Amiens. Nimes are 18th and in the relegation play-off spot, three points behind St Etienne in 17th.

“The 2019-2020 professional sports leagues, notably football, cannot yet restart,” Philippe told a televised address to French parliament at the National Assembly.

“I would like to be precise here, no large sports gathering or any gathering of 5,000 people or more, needing the permission of the local police and long prior arrangements, will be allowed before September.

“It will be possible, on sunny days, to practice an individual sporting activity outdoors, obviously respecting the rules of social distancing.

“It will not be possible, neither to practice sport in covered places, nor team or contact sports.”

The verdict means that the top two flights of French domestic football will not be able to complete their remaining fixtures, while the French Cup final between St. Etienne and Paris Saint-Germain will not be played.

Thomas Tuchel’s side are also scheduled to face Lyon in the League Cup but that fixture will now no longer hold.

UEFA have given European leagues until 25 May to decide whether they want to complete or cancel their seasons.

The Dutch Eredivisie was abandoned on Friday with no promotion or relegation and no champions, while on Monday Belgian clubs postponed a vote on confirming the cancellation of their top flight until next week.

Last week, the German Football League (DFL) signalled that it is ready to resume from May 9, albeit behind closed doors and with players tested regularly for the virus.

The DFL still needs permission from German Chancellor Merkel and the leaders of the states, who are due to meet on Thursday.

More than 23,000 people have been confirmed to have died after being infected with coronavirus in France, making it one of the world’s worst-hit nations.