Norway National Football Team banned from traveling to Romania due to positive COVID-19 test

Norway’s Nations League game in Romania on Sunday was canceled by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) after the Norwegian Government refused to allow the team to travel to Bucharest due to a positive COVID-19 test. According to the UEFA rules, the match is likely to be awarded to the host as a 3-0 “walkover” victory.

UEFA rules say that national teams must appear in the given country 24 hours before the game’s official kickoff; otherwise, the team looses the game without playing. And this is exactly what happened to the Norwegian national team, which was scheduled to face Romania at the Arena Națională in Bucharest Sunday evening.

The Norwegian players were already on their way to the airport on Saturday to catch a chartered flight to Bucharest when authorities told them that such a journey would breach the country’s strict coronavirus measures because a player on the squad (Galatasary right back Omar Elabdellaoui ) had tested positive; they were then told that they should not travel but go into a 10-day quarantine.

“The Norwegian Football Federation believes that we can travel within the regulations. The Norwegian government says “no” to this. We disagree with that, but, of course, we cannot defy the government,”

– Norwegian Football Federation (NFT) President Terje Svendsen said in a statement on Saturday.

According to the UEFA rules, the match is likely to be awarded to Romania as a 3-0 “walkover” victory. This would be a stroke of luck for Romania, as they have failed to win any of their last five matches against the Scandinavians. The final decision in the matter will be made by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary committee.

Otherwise, Norway is also scheduled to play one more game in the National League against Austria this week, on Wednesday. According to the NFT, it became clear on Sunday night that they will form a new team (with new players) and will travel to Austria to play this match. Since not only the original squad but the support staff is also in quarantine, the team will be led by U21 national team coach Leif Gunnar Smerud.


Title image: Norway’s forward Erling Braut Haaland scores his third goal to lead 4:0 during the UEFA Nations League football match between Norway and Romania, on October 11, 2020, in Oslo, Norway. (Photo by Vidar Ruud / NTB / AFP)

Author: Attila Szoó