Postponing Euro 2020 was ‘least disruptive’ option available to UEFA – academic

Postponing Euro 2020 was the “least disruptive” option available to UEFA but could have a major impact on the welfare of players, according to a senior academic in sport management and policy.

The tournament has been pushed back until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic and in a bid to ease congestion in the sporting calendar caused by the suspension of major European leagues.

Dr Borja Garcia, a lecturer at Loughborough University, believes the governing body’s decision to reschedule the showpiece event limits potential economic losses.

However, he fears too much may be expected of top professionals when football eventually does resume due to the pressure of clearing a logjam of club fixtures ahead of next summer’s rescheduled international competition.

“This decision is probably the least disruptive for UEFA and also for football in Europe because UEFA took that decision taking into account the European leagues,” Dr Garcia told the PA news agency.

“By postponing, UEFA still tries to ensure that the tournament happens so any economic consequences are at least not disastrous because the tournament will happen. In a way, it’s about limiting your losses.

“I think that another important domino effect as we start to accumulate games and competitions is going to be on the players.

“How many games are top professionals going to have to play between June 2020 and the end of June 2021? I think that is a major issue.

“I was looking the other day at the fixture list of Manchester City. If the Premier League would restart in the middle of April – which I actually don’t think it will – it was almost one game every three days for two or three months.

“The welfare of players is actually one consequence that is very important.”

Euro 2020 is scheduled to be staged in 12 cities across the continent and is set to now run from June 11 to July 11, 2021, with the semi-finals and final to be played at Wembley.

Wembley will host the final of Euro 2020
Wembley will host the final (Mike Egerton/PA)

UEFA opted to delay the start of the competition on Tuesday during an emergency video conference involving major stakeholders.

Cancelling the event may have helped alleviate a forthcoming fixture pile-up but, in addition to the financial implications of doing that, Dr Garcia believes such a decision could have damaged the collective mood of a population consumed by the Covid-19 outbreak.

“I think scrapping the tournament could have had more negative consequences than positives,” he said.

“We should not forget perhaps the morale of the population because if you tell them right now that we are going to scrap it altogether, people will say, ‘oh this is very big, this is very important’.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin admitted the postponement of Euro 2020 came at “huge cost” to the governing body
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin admitted the postponement of Euro 2020 came at “huge cost” to the governing body (Niall Carson/PA)

“It (coronavirus) is a very important crisis but you still need to think about the morale.

“In organisational terms, I think there was a case to say, ‘we’ll leave it for in four years’ time and use this time as a breathing space for European football to concentrate on other matters’.

“(However), I don’t think there are perfect solutions in this situation.”

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