Fauci warns NFL 'may not happen this year' due to virus

NEW YORK (AFP) - The NFL and major US college football programs probably must look at a "bubble" format to conduct a season due to the global coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Thursday.

Fauci, a leading medical voice on the White House task force dealing with the deadly virus outbreak, told CNN the nature of the sport and the method of transmitting COVID-19 could make any sort of 2020 campaign problematic.

"Unless players are essentially in a bubble -- insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day -- it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall," Fauci told CNN.

"If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year."

NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills responded to Fauci's comments in a statement to NFL Network, saying the league continued to work with the players union and medical advisers to "mitigate the health risk to players.

"Make no mistake, this is no easy task," Sills said. "We will make adjustments as necessary to meet the public health environment as we prepare to play the 2020 season as scheduled with increased protocols and safety measures for all players, personnel and attendees.

"We will be flexible and adaptable in this environment to adjust to the virus as needed."

In a conference call on Wednesday, Sills said the idea of the NFL playing in a bubble was a non-starter.