Coronavirus pandemic: UEFA postpones European Championships by 12 months, Copa America pushed too

After a meeting with member nations and clubs, UEFA announced on Tuesday that the European Championships were being moved from 2020 to 2021 in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

FP Sports March 17, 2020 18:23:31 IST
Coronavirus pandemic: UEFA postpones European Championships by 12 months, Copa America pushed too

After a meeting between UEFA and 55 affiliated national football federations and representatives of clubs, leagues and players on Tuesday, the continental European Championships have been moved from this year to 2021. The move comes following widespread suspension of domestic leagues due to the coronavirus . The tournament has been rescheduled for 11 June to 11 July in 2021.

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Representational image. AP

The tournament was initially planned for 12 June to 12 July across 12 nations.

To ensure a possible end to the domestic leagues, South America's continental tournament, the Copa America, scheduled for 12 June has also been postponed until next year.

"The health of all those involved in the game is the priority, as well as to avoid placing any unnecessary pressure on national public services involved in staging matches. The move will help all domestic competitions, currently on hold due to the COVID-19 emergency, to be completed," UEFA said in a statement.

"The UEFA EURO 2020 Play-off matches and international friendlies, scheduled for the end of March, will now be played in the international window at the start of June, subject to a review of the situation."

"A working group has been set up with the participation of leagues and club representatives to examine calendar solutions that would allow for the completion of the current season and any other consequence of the decisions made today."

“The health of fans, staff and players has to be our number one priority and in that spirit, UEFA tabled a range of options so that competitions can finish this season safely and I am proud of the response of my colleagues across European football. There was a real spirit of co-operation, with everyone recognising that they had to sacrifice something in order to achieve the best result," said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.

“It was important that, as the governing body of European football, UEFA led the process and made the biggest sacrifice. Moving EURO 2020 comes at a huge cost for UEFA but we will do our best to ensure that the vital funding for grassroots, women’s football and the development of the game in our 55 countries is not affected. Purpose over profit has been our guiding principle in taking this decision for the good of European football as a whole."

“Football is an uplifting and powerful force in society. The thought of celebrating a pan-European festival of football in empty stadia, with deserted fan zones while the continent sits at home in isolation, is a joyless one and one we could not accept to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the competition."

The postponement of the Euros frees a month to try to finish club competitions including the European club competitions — Champions and Europa Leagues — but will create bottlenecks for next year with multiple international tournaments next year and the qualifying for 2022 FIFA World Cup set to begin.

The postponement was expected and it emerged on Tuesday that UEFA had cancelled its hotel bookings in Copenhagen, one of the host cities, last week. The CPH Hotel told Reuters that UEFA had booked 80 of its 102 rooms but cancelled them a little over a week ago. The Marienlyst Strandhotel told Reuters that UEFA had cancelled rooms booked on behalf of the Denmark team, who are usually based there.

The European championship are usually held in one or two host nations, but was spread around the continent this time in what organisers said was a romantic one-off event.

The host cities are Amsterdam, Baku, Bilbao, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome and St Petersburg.

The virus has infected almost 180,000 people and killed more than 7,000 worldwide, with the epicentre now in Europe as infection rates slow down in China where the outbreak began.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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