Euro 2020 postponed as UEFA makes ‘biggest sacrifice’ to solve fixture crisis

The European Championship has been moved to the summer of 2021 as UEFA made “the biggest sacrifice” to tackle the disruption to the football calendar caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

A meeting convened by European football’s governing body agreed to switch the tournament in order to find a way to break the logjam of fixtures created by the spread of the virus throughout the continent.

The new dates proposed are June 11 to July 11, 2021, and the move appears to have met with the approval of national associations across the continent.

UEFA confirmed the Euro 2020 play-offs, due to be played this month, would now take place in the June international window.

The Women’s Euros, as well as the Nations League Finals and Under-21 Euros, all of which were due to take place in the summer of 2021, will be rescheduled, while it is understood dates of June 24 and June 27 were pencilled in, but not officially confirmed, for the Europa League and Champions League finals.

UEFA, the European Club Association, European Leagues and players’ union FIFPRO Europe have signed a joint resolution committing to completing all domestic and European club competitions by June 30, “should the situation improve and resuming playing be appropriate and prudent enough”.

To help with scheduling, domestic league matches might be played in mid-week and UEFA competition matches on weekends.

In the event the club season cannot be completed by the end of June, the qualifying rounds for next season’s Champions and Europa Leagues may be adapted.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin admitted the postponement of Euro 2020 came at “huge cost” to the governing body but that ploughing ahead – potentially behind closed doors – was not something UEFA had wanted to consider.

“There was a real spirit of co-operation, with everyone recognising that they had to sacrifice something in order to achieve the best result,” he said following Tuesday’s meeting.

“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.”

HEALTH Coronavirus
HEALTH Coronavirus

Ceferin was later pressed on the financial impact moving the showpiece championships would have on Europe’s governing body.

“We will start assessing that these days, but it will go to hundreds of millions of euros,” he said.

“I’ve seen some fake news these days that we were putting a condition that leagues and clubs pay us the amount of 300million (euros) (£272m) to postpone the Euro. I can say that it’s a complete nonsense. We didn’t ask them to pay anything as a condition to postpone the Euro.”

The UEFA president added: “I don’t think that we should cannibalise the women’s Euro with the men’s Euro just one month before.

“I would say it is the biggest crisis that football faced in history, but it is also a possibility to…reset some things, put some things differently.

“Honestly speaking, I’m optimistic about the future. We will have to be a bit careful at the beginning, but we are capable of coming back.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said the postponements of Euro 2020 and Copa America 2020 until next year would be formally accepted on Wednesday.

The Club World Cup – due to take place in China in the summer of 2021 – will also be discussed, with that competition set to be rescheduled either until later in 2021, 2022 or 2023.

In a statement from Infantino, the world governing body pledged a direct contribution of USD 10million to the World Health Organisation Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

He said: “To protect the interests of all stakeholders and competition organisers, whether they be national, continental or worldwide, I have called for a bureau of the council conference call tomorrow to see how we can progress matters collectively.

“During this call, I will suggest the following next steps: to accept the postponements of the CONMEBOL 2020 Copa America and the UEFA Euro 2020 to the June/July of 2021; to decide at a later stage – when there is more clarity on the situation – when to reschedule the new FIFA Club World Cup, later in 2021, in 2022 or in 2023.”

England’s June friendlies against Austria and Romania have been called off. Gareth Southgate’s men were due to travel to Vienna for a friendly on June 2 before facing Romania at Villa Park on June 7.

Juventus and France midfielder Blaise Matuidi has tested positive for the virus and “is in voluntary home isolation, is asymptomatic and is fine,” according to the Serie A club.

Callum Hudson-Odoi is progressing well
Callum Hudson-Odoi is progressing well

LaLiga side Espanyol also confirmed that six cases of Covid-19 have been detected among their first team and the technical staff.

Chelsea coach Frank Lampard says Callum Hudson-Odoi is progressing well after his coronavirus diagnosis on Friday, and the Blues’ training ground has been reopened after a deep clean.

The summer’s other big sporting attraction, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is still on schedule according to the International Olympic Committee.

Following meetings with international sports federations, the IOC said it remained “fully committed” to the Games, which are due to start on July 24.

However, heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson has questioned the IOC’s advice that athletes should continue their preparations for Tokyo 2020 “as best they can”.

The British star, who lives and trains in France, wrote on Twitter: “I feel under pressure to train and keep the same routine which is impossible.”

Tennis’ second major of the year, the French Open, has been postponed until September 20 and is due to conclude on October 4, while the US PGA Championship has been postponed and will be “rescheduled for later this summer”, organisers have announced.

An update on my situation, stay safe everyone

— Alex Hales (@AlexHales1) March 17, 2020

In cricket, England batsman Alex Hales has revealed he is in self-isolation after developing coronavirus symptoms.

The 31-year-old returned home early from the Pakistan Super League – which has subsequently been postponed – on Saturday and began feeling ill on Sunday.

The worldwide sporting calendar continued to be decimated by the pandemic with racing, snooker, boxing, cycling and swimming all called off.

All racing in Britain will be suspended from Wednesday until the end of April.

Runners and riders pass the empty stands at a race meeting at Wetherby on Tuesday
Runners and riders pass the empty stands at a race meeting at Wetherby on Tuesday

Snooker’s Coral Tour Championship has been postponed along with the first three Diamond League athletics meetings of the season.

The British Boxing Board of Control has announced that “all public tournaments” under its jurisdiction have been cancelled, and the position will be reviewed in early April.

British Cycling has suspending all activities until at least April 30, while the Tour de Yorkshire has been postponed.

British Swimming confirmed the Diving World Series event scheduled for London later this month has been postponed with the British Swimming Championships and British Para-Swimming International Meet cancelled, and British Eventing suspended all fixtures with immediate effect.