Liverpool have been barred from entering Germany for a Champions League match against RB Leipzig on February 16 because of strict entry rules imposed because of the pandemic, the German interior ministry said Thursday.
"German federal police informed RB Leipzig today that the described case does not meet the requirements for an exception" to the travel restrictions, the ministry said in a statement.
UEFA's regulations decree that Leipzig must find a way of hosting the last-16, first leg match or risk forfeiting it as a 3-0 defeat, but the planning for the match has been upended by Germany's updated travel restrictions.
RB Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff said the club would find an alternative location for the match.
"We are in talks and we are working on a solution. We will play somewhere," he told AFP's German sport subsidiary SID. The new German rules, slated to last until the day after the game, ban travellers from countries hit by new, more contagious, coronavirus variants such as Britain.
Potential solutions include playing the game in another country, or switching the home and away legs of the tie so that the first leg would be in Liverpool.
"The Europa League has a different branding from the Champions League. So the stadium must be prepared two days before and the turf must be in top condition," Salzburg's media spokesman Christian Kircher told German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse.
The decision also places a question mark over another Champions League last-16 match, between Borussia Moenchengladbach against Manchester City which is due to be played in Germany on February 24.
The Champions League, Europe's top club competition, was heavily disrupted by the pandemic last season.
It was placed on hold when sport across Europe was halted in March.