In Depth

Euro 2020 postponed: Uefa president says ‘health of fans and players is the priority’

With the Euros rescheduled the aim is to now complete the domestic leagues and Uefa competitions

For the first time in the tournament’s 60-year history the European Championships have been postponed. 

The decision announced by Uefa yesterday that the 2020 competition, scheduled to be staged in 12 cities, will now kick off in 2021 took no one by surprise. 

But nonetheless it was still a momentous declaration, underlining the extent to which the world - and not just that of sport - has been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic.

European football’s governing body took the unprecedented decision during an emergency video conference involving major stakeholders. 

The reasoning behind the rescheduling of the Euros to 11 June to 11 July 2021 is to allow Europe’s domestic leagues to complete their seasons. 

With football across the continent expected to be closed down until the beginning of May, there could - if the virus is contained - still be time to finish league and cup competitions in May and June.

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Solidarity

“We are at the helm of a sport that vast numbers of people live and breathe that has been laid low by this invisible and fast-moving opponent,” said Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin.

“It is at times like these, that the football community needs to show responsibility, unity, solidarity and altruism. 

“The health of fans, staff and players has to be our number one priority and… there was a real spirit of co-operation, with everyone recognising that they had to sacrifice something in order to achieve the best result.”

Clash

BBC Sport reports that one result of the rescheduled Euros is that they will now clash with the Women’s European Championship, which is due to be held in England in July 2021, while the Nations League and the European Under-21 Championships are also inked in for that month.

Asked about the clash, Uefa said those tournaments will be “rescheduled accordingly”. According to the BBC “it is currently unclear if that involves minor tweaks to dates, or large-scale postponements”.

Working group

Euro 2020 was due to start on 12 June although there were still some qualifying play-offs to be completed. They were scheduled for this month but have been put back to June, as have a series of friendly international matches.

In the meantime Uefa has set up a cross-party working group to pore over the outstanding football calendar in an attempt to reach a solution that would permit all domestic leagues to be completed in May and June, while also allowing time to bring the Champions League and Europa League to a satisfactory conclusion.

Reactions to Uefa’s Euro 2020 decision

Barney Ronay, The Guardian

“A Euros in 2021 does at least offer the promise of some kind of re-emergence. Distant as it seems, it could even be a time of joy.”

Paul Hayward, The Daily Telegraph

“Postponements and cancellations in sport are not what the global health emergency is about. Terminations of life and livelihoods are at its core. Most of the players denied a chance to shine in an England shirt this summer will find that moment not erased but merely delayed. At club and international level their promise will survive the loss of a tournament that was configured, unwittingly, as the perfect virus-spreader.”

Martin Samuel, Daily Mail

“Agreeing to delay the European Championship by a year but keeping its pan-continental format reveals an absence of understanding of what is to come. Without coronavirus it was a rotten plan. At the time of the continent’s biggest crisis since the Second World War, when the air travel industry stands on the brink of oblivion - the International Air Transport Association’s prediction is that all but 30 of 700 commercial airlines will fold without government help - it is lunatic.”

Dave Kidd, The Sun

“The postponement of Euro 2020 by a year was an inevitable no-brainer and Uefa chief Aleksander Ceferin was right to rule out the prospect of staging such a jamboree of football behind closed doors.”

Today’s back pages

French Open farce creates ‘confusion and anger’ and Champions League could be played on weekend

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