Manchester United‘s final Champions League Group F opponents, Young Boys, have appealed to the Swiss government to be granted sporting exemption status in order to travel to England for next Wednesday’s fixture at Old Trafford, sources have told ESPN.
The Dec. 8 clash is in doubt following the Swiss government’s decision to add the United Kingdom to its list of countries with a “variant of concern” following the emergence of the Omicron strain of COVID-19 in recent days.
As a consequence of the UK’s status on the “variant of concern” list, anyone entering Swizterland from the England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland must isolate for 10 days, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or posted a negative COVID-19 test result.
As it stands, there are no exemptions for athletes entering Switzerland from the UK, meaning that the Young Boys squad and officials would be forced to quarantine for 10 days on returning to Bern from Manchester following the United game.
Young Boys are now waiting for a response from the government in relation to their request, but sources at UEFA have told ESPN that arrangements will be made for the game to take place in a neutral country if the Swiss rule out an exemption for Young Boys to travel the UK.
UEFA has been forced to move several European fixtures to neutral countries since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and the United-Young Boys game is regarded as a problem that can be resolved.
However, with five other European countries — Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Netherlands and Portugal — also on Switzerland’s “variant of concern” list, UEFA would be forced to move the game to a nation that would enable both teams to travel freely to and from the venue.
It remains unclear yet whether United will have new interim manager Ralf Rangnick available for this match due to delays over his visa, sources have told ESPN.
United have already qualified for the round of 16 as group winners, but the game is still consequential for Young Boys, who can secure a place in the Europa League if they beat United for a second time in the group and Atalanta lose against Villarreal.