In less than five month, the pandemic-delayed European Championship will commence. Several speculations of cancelling the event, if not another postponement, are circulating. However, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) reaffirms that cancellation “not an option”, according to reports. Euro 2020 is set to take place in June and July this year.
The report details that cancelling the Euros would “prove ruinous to many of Europe’s 55 national associations and the UEFA initiatives and development programmes, all of which rely on the proceeds of major tournaments to operate.” A final decision on how Euro 2020 will look is due in mid-March, with an acceptance within UEFA that waiting until its Congress on April 20.
With Europe still battling to control the COVID-19 pandemic, the multi-city hosting of the tournament is in jeopardy. Earlier, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is hoping vaccination programmes, moving at different pace across the various host countries, will be determine the fate of the tournament. Ceferinalso revealed that there will be “backup options” in case a host country faced a problem.
The matches of the Euro 2020 were initially scheduled to be held at stadiums in 12 different cities across Europe, namely in London (England), Munich (Germany), Rome (Italy), Baku (Azerbaijan), St. Petersburg (Russia), Bucharest (Romania), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Dublin (Ireland), Bilbao (Spain), Budapest (Hungary), Glasgow (Scotland) and Copenhagen (Denmark).
Sources from various reports claim that ninety percent of tickets were sold prior to the pandemic and that only a “minimal” number have been returned for a refund, a logistical problem that UEFA will face as it is certain that Euro 2020 will not be played in front of full stadiums in the 12 host cities across the continent. The best-case scenario is stadiums being no more than 70% full.
The second scenario is a 30% full capacity of stadiums in case the roll-out of vaccine in Europe will not bring the region to normal by the time of the tournament. The third option, which sources admit that is highly unlikely, is a tournament played behind closed doors in one country, with strictly enforced COVID-secure bubbles for every team similar to the final-eight competition of last season’s Champions League.
This scenario, however, will create another logistical catastrophe as they have to cater 24 teams in a bubble. France or Germany is being considered to solely host the event. However, the COVID-19 situations in both countries are also not getting better. The sources then gave the fourth option – Russia, host of the 2018 World Cup, with a bubble limited to five stadiums in St Petersburg and Moscow.
However, UEFA earlier claimed that that a sole host and an event taking place in a sole Covid-secure bubble is ‘highly unlikely’ and a ‘worse-case scenario’. Meanwhile, the host cities have been asked to come up with two to three plans out of those options and it is possible different approaches will be taken in each venue.