UEFA | Coronavirus

UEFA postpone Euro 2020 to allow leagues to be completed

Tuesday sees European football's governing body discuss Euro 2020, Champions League, Europa League and all the domestic competitions.

UEFA postpone Euro 2020 to allow leagues to be completed
Yves Herman REUTERS

UEFA has confirmed that Euro 2020 is to be postponed to 2021. The news arrived around 15:00 CET on Tuesday after it had already been leaked earlier in the day. There was no mention that this delay of the summer tournament - which is to aid domestic leagues from completed their schedules, along with UEFA competitions - that there is a demand for a ‘€300m solidarity fund’ from European leagues which was being reported.

UEFA meet with league associations

It was confirmed at the end of last week, on the back of leagues around Europe postponing games as the spread of coronavirus grew, that UEFA had summoned its 55 affiliated federations for a meeting at noon on Tuesday 17 March to discuss numerous key elements. As well as the postponement of the European Championships, which was planned to be hosted in various cities this summer, they are also aiming to come to an agreement on how to conclude the Champions League and the Europa League. The meeting, which is being held by video conference for obvious reasons, is also hoping to make some decisions on how domestic competitions should deal with their own situations.

As reported by David Ornstein in The Athletic, the above figure is the estimated cost to UEFA for postponing the international tournament to 2021. They have stated that a task force will be created - made up of representatives of UEFA, the European Club Association (ECA) and European Leagues (EL) - to come up with a draft schedule after analysing all the available information. Many of the associations are still focused on completing their leagues, potentially extending them over the summer.

Journalist Tariq Panja has been keeping a close eye on developments and around 13:00 CET tweeted that the initial part of the meetings had produced some decisions. As expected, Euro 2020 will be moved to next year and, if the spread of the virus can be brought under control, domestic leagues will be completed using this time over the summer. This news was then corroborated by the FA of Norway, who stated that it would be played between 11 June and 11 July, and this was then confirmed officially by UEFA. Copa América 2020 will also be moved to 2021.

UEFA's Alesksander Ceferin said:

“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. 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 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.

“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.

Champions League and Europa League finals

Further information, as yet unconfirmed, was then leaked to state that UEFA are proposing a delay to the Champions League final, moving it to 27 June, and the Europa League final, for 24 June. Again, like all these plans, this will be dependent on countries getting to grips with the spread of coronavirus.

Clearly there are a number of related issues to be ironed out to make this work - player contracts, TV rights, etc - and working groups are being set up to deal with these.