Coronavirus pandemic: Years of continuous football on the cards on the back of potential Euro 2020 postponement

By postponing Euro 2020, this summer could be used to complete domestic campaigns and UEFA club competitions, with league bosses determined to bring their seasons to a conclusion.

Reuters March 17, 2020 16:12:02 IST
Coronavirus pandemic: Years of continuous football on the cards on the back of potential Euro 2020 postponement

Tuesday is decision day on football's European Championship but if the coronavirus epidemic forces it to be postponed until next year, as is widely expected, it will be only the first of many such calls to be made on the sport’s ravaged calendar.

Coronavirus pandemic Years of continuous football on the cards on the back of potential Euro 2020 postponement

General view as the groups are displayed on a screen following completion of the Euro 2020 draw. Reuters

European football’s governing body UEFA is holding a teleconference call with all 55 member associations on Tuesday and, amid pressure to find time to complete the major domestic leagues that are all currently suspended, shifting the Euros back a year looks the most obvious first step.

A decision is expected to be announced late in the European afternoon.

Currently set to be held in 12 venues, with the semi-finals and final in London, it would obviously be a logistical and financial challenge but one that UEFA would be confident of carrying off.

Next year, however, is far from being the “fallow year” many people think. The women’s European Championship is due to be held in England in the summer 2021, while FIFA’s revamped Club World Cup in China is currently pencilled in from 17 June - 4 July and will feature eight European club sides.

It will be the inaugural staging of the expanded tournament, which FIFA President Gianni Infantino has pledged “will become the best cup competition in the world”, but it would appear impossible for it to retain its spot in the calendar if the Euros are moved.

Additional clashes are with the European Under-21 Championship, set for June in Slovenia and Hungary, and the UEFA Nations League finals.

Elsewhere, the Copa America in Argentina and Colombia, which is set to take place this summer and features a host of Europe-based players, could follow Euro 2020 in being pushed back by a year.

The Gold Cup in the United States is also scheduled for the summer of 2021, with the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon taking place in January/February.

In addition, European World Cup qualifying matches for Qatar 2022 are set to begin in March 2021, and another two matchdays scheduled for June would presumably need to be moved to make way for the Euros.

How these competitions will intertwine remains something for the governing bodies to wrestle with, as is the future of this season’s club competitions.

By postponing Euro 2020, this summer could be used to complete domestic campaigns and UEFA club competitions, with league bosses determined to bring their seasons to a conclusion.

As for the Champions League and Europa League, there are suggestions that they could be settled by a mini-tournament, with the remaining knockout fixtures played over several days in the host cities for the finals, Istanbul and Gdansk.

But there is of course no certainty over when a resumption of football might be possible or safe.

Even if the 2019/20 season is completed by July or August, the following campaign would not be able to start until September or October, to give players some rest.

A late start to the domestic season could make it difficult for 2020/21 to reach a conclusion before the European Championship, perhaps forcing the way for some sort of truncated season.

If that did not happen, there is the possibility of almost continuous club football taking place between this summer and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The tournament is set to be staged from 21 November - 18 December, the first time it will be staged in the winter months.

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