Chelsea news: Blues could be forced to play Champions League tie without unvaccinated players

Chelsea's Champions League clash with Lille in March will be affected by France's new Covid-19 rules, which state unvaccinated athletes can't enter the country.

France's new Covid-19 regulations denying unvaccinated athletes entry into the country could mean unvaccinated Chelsea players will be absent from their Champions League last-16 tie against Lille.

Previously the rules stated that athletes could get medical exemption if they were still unvaccinated, but the new regulations could leave visiting teams without players.

The news follows the deportation saga surrounding tennis star Novak Dkjokovic in the lead up to the Australian Open this month, and now France have adopted a similar approach.

UEFA released a statement on Thursday morning stating that teams would be required "in principle" to abide by applicable rules in any country, but are yet to update their own regulations for the tournament's upcoming knockout phase, with the governing body insisting they will provide "further guidance".

French president Emmanuel Macron has taken a firm stance towards the unvaccinated population, previously commenting that he intentionally wanted to "p*** them off" by limiting their access to public areas.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has adopted a similar mindset regarding Covid-19, having previously shown his support for the vaccination.

Therefore, it seems unlikely that UEFA will insist on matches being played in neutral venues, and with Chelsea the first team to make the trip to France since the rule change, any unvaccinated players in Thomas Tuchel's squad are expected to be denied entry.

It'll certainly be a point of interest, not only for how France, UEFA and Chelsea handle the situation, but it will also highlight which stars have decided against taking the vaccine.

It's been a hot topic in the Premier League of late, with criticism piling in over their handling of Covid-19 postponements.

All 20 clubs are scheduled to meet next week to discuss any amendments for the current rules - which state teams must have less than 13 first team players if they are to have the game postponed.

If any amendments are decided upon, we can expect them to be in place for the start of February.

READ MORE: When will Salah, Mahrez, Mane and the rest of AFCON Premier League players return?

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