Coronavirus outbreak: Euro 2020 postponed for a year

Updated: Mar 18, 2020, 08:06 IST | AFP | Lausanne

UEFA postpone European football championship scheduled for June-July to next year in the wake of Coronavirus outbreak

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo. Pic/ AFP
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo. Pic/ AFP

The European championship, due to be played in June and July this year, has been postponed until 2021 because of Coronavirus, European football's governing body UEFA said on Tuesday. UEFA said the new proposed dates for the tournament were June 11 to July 11 next year, as Euro 2020 becomes Euro 2021.

It said the postponement would "will help all domestic competitions, currently on hold to be completed". The announcement comes after UEFA held crisis talks with its national associations as well as clubs and players bodies via videoconference, as the continent fights to deal with the health crisis. "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," UEFA said in a statement.

Most of Europe's domestic leagues have ground to a halt over the last week as football confronts its biggest issue in modern times. Europe has become the epicentre of the virus, with France on Tuesday joining Italy and Spain in applying strict lockdown measures and European leaders also planning to ban all non-essential travel into the continent.

The UEFA Champions League and Europa League competitions for clubs have been suspended, with both still in the Last-16 stage, but postponing the European Championship means they, along with national leagues, will have the chance to be completed, assuming travel restrictions are lifted in time. UEFA has set up a working group involving leagues and clubs which will try to come up with a new match calendar to allow for the season to be completed. Twenty of the 24 nations set to take part in the Euro have already qualified, but play-offs to determine the final four participants, due to be played this month, have been postponed.

UEFA said those matches, and other scheduled friendlies, would now be played in June "subject to a review of the situation." "People's health and well-being has to be the primary concern for us all, so we fully support UEFA's decision to postpone EURO 2020," said the English FA's CEO, Mark Bullingham. Meanwhile, French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet gave the postponement his "full support", calling it a "wise and pragmatic decision".

As for its club competitions, UEFA could still come to a decision to try to complete the Champions League and Europa League by curtailing the competitions, meaning ties up to the semi-finals could be decided in one-off matches. Reports on Tuesday indicated both tournaments could conclude with a 'Final Four' meeting in the scheduled host cities—Istanbul for the Champions League and Gdansk in Poland for the Europa League.

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