Today we can add the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship to the list of victims of coronavirus pandemic. According to L’Equipe newspaper, UEFA is going to reschedule the tournament, which is to be held in June–July, 2020. Such a decision can save the time for the postponed football European cups of this season.
L’Equipe newspaper has recently published material on the situation around international football competitions. The meeting is scheduled for March 17th in the Union of European Football Associations. UEFA has invited 55 national football federations‘ representatives to the meeting. The event will be dedicated to actions UEFA should undertake to diminish the spread of coronavirus pandemic.
L’Equipe claims UEFA has already formed a position on this issue.
We can wait for the temporary suspension of both UEFA Cups – Champions League and Europa League. Nevertheless, UEFA still hopes both tournaments will be completed. Such a decision would require moving the final stages to the summer period.
Thus, there would be no time left for the major football tournament of the season. It was to be held from June 12 to July 12 in 12 countries of the continent. The matches should have been hosted by Rome, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, Baku, Dublin, London, Munich, Budapest, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Glasgow, and Bilbao.
According to L’Equipe, UEFA will insist on postponing the European Football Championship for a year. Yet, there is a problem. The International Federation of Football (FIFA) has already planned the main tournament – a reformed FIFA Club World Cup– for the summer of 2021. The French newspaper claims that to realize its plans, UEFA will have to hold tough negotiations with FIFA.
The leadership of UEFA, represented by Union President Aleksander Cheferin, has spoken out against such a scenario for a long time. But this outcome seems to be inevitable. The main reason – national championships and European major league cups cannot be finished before the start of the European Championship, which was scheduled for June 12.
As for the European Cup matches, the postponement of the games is also forced. It has been previously reported that the matches of the 1/8 finals of the Europa League ‘Inter – Getafe’ and ‘Sevilla – Roma’ were postponed.
Getafe refused to go to Milan for a game with Nerazzurri, and Italy has already declared a quarantine throughout the country. Sevilla cannot also wait for their rival – the local authorities have banned the plane to land in Spain.
Initially, UEFA offered Inter and Roma the option to voluntarily refuse participation in the Europa League, so as not to harm the calendar of the entire tournament. Yet, two Italian clubs responded by refusing to do so. It was expected that UEFA would decide to exclude the teams forcibly, but they took some time to consider the situation instead.
We will not witness two Champions League games: Manchester City – Real Madrid and Juventus – Lyon. In these two cases, the problems are much more severe.
Three days ago, Juve defender Daniele Rugani passed a positive test for the coronavirus. In this regard, the entire team was closed for quarantine, and the star of the Italian club, Cristiano Ronaldo decided to stay at home in Portugal and not to return to Turin.
Real Madrid is also closed for quarantine– not only the football team but the entire sports club. One of the players of Real Madrid’s basketball team also had been diagnosed with a coronavirus. The name of the basketball player is not mentioned. In Madrid, the decision was made to isolate the athletes.
Earlier this week, the Italian Tuttosport newspaper claimed several European football unions had submitted an application to UEFA. They requested to postpone the European Championship from 2020 to 2021 due to the aggressive pandemic of the coronavirus. However, later, UEFA has denied this information. They claimed the postponement of the championship was the last resort.
Most European countries have taken measures to counteract the coronavirus. For example, the Italian football championship was suspended until April 3. While in Germany and France, the games will be held without spectators until mid–April.
That is the main reason UEFA is convening a general meeting of all national league representatives on March 17. It will be decided what to do with European football in a pandemic situation. It is expected that on this day, a decision on the postponement of Euro 2020 to the summer of 2021 will be announced.
The measures that UEFA has already taken speak in favor of such a cardinal statement. All tournaments for junior teams have been canceled lately. Lots of matches of club tournaments – Europa League or Champions League – are disrupted. Some of them are held with empty stadiums. So, the next logical step should be to freeze these tournaments as well.
According to the UEFA schedule, all national tournaments, as well as the Champions League and Europa League, should be over by May 30. So, Euro 2020 should have started on June 12. But if the national leagues would be moved by a month, there will be no time left for the European Championship. It is unlikely that its start can be moved to mid–July, and the final to mid–August.
So, March 17 is the day UEFA will probably make a final choice. What to sacrifice: club tournaments, which will be interrupted and not finished, or Euro 2020 for national teams? So far, the most obvious decision is to move the European Championship to 2021. This option also has many drawbacks. UEFA will surely lose multiple profits; it will destroy the games‘ schedule. Moreover, there are more problems expected with the 12 cities that should host Euro 2020 (or Euro 2021).
It becomes obvious that the spread of coronavirus and the status of a pandemic will force UEFA to reschedule the Euro. We will monitor the situation. We hope that the measures taken by states to stop the spread of coronavirus will help to stop the epidemic and give us back the opportunity to enjoy our favorite sports.