RB Leipzig's first game in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League against Liverpool will not be held at Red Bull Arena due to COVID-19 restrictions. The German government has banned flights from high-risk areas which include the United Kingdom, throwing the game into turmoil.
Leipzig did apply for an exemption that would allow the reigning English Premier League champions to travel to Germany. That application was denied and now the host team must look for an alternate venue for the game.
"The corona protection order agreed by the federal government last Friday envisions only a few exceptions and no special arrangements for professional athletes," said the German Minister of the Interior. "The federal police has told the RB Leipzig club today that the circumstances of the given cause does not meet the requirements for an exemption."
Regulations during the pandemic place the responsibility of finding a venue on the host team, leaving Leipzig until Monday to find an alternate venue. There is a possibility that the first game could be played in Liverpool since people in German are still allowed to travel to the UK. Either way both legs of the Round of 16 must be completed by April 2nd in order of the competition to continue forward.
Alternatively, Lepzig could end up forfeiting the game should UEFA decide that they did not meet requirements. Such a decision would place the East German club in a hole for the second leg in Liverpool which still appears to be on schedule.
"We are in talks and we are working on a solution," said Leipzig executive Oliver Mintzlaff.