A tough decision was made by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), as their largest European Championship men’s soccer tournament was called off and will resume after a year due to the threat of global pandemic, COVID, which is currently crippling European countries. The tournament is the first biggest major sporting event to be postponed because of the pandemic.
In a statement, UEFA announced “the postponement of its flagship national team competition, UEFA EURO 2020, due to be played in June and July this year. 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.” This move also helps domestic leagues complete their season according to the body.
The most glorious 24-team European Championship, which was being held across Europe to mark UEFA’s 60th anniversary, will now take place from June 11 to July 11 in 2021. The governing body also announced that all club men’s and women’s international club competitions, including the Champions League and the Europa League will be postponed until further notice.
“We are at the helm of a sport that vast numbers of people live and breathe that has been laid low by this invisible and fast-moving opponent. It is at times like these, that the football community needs to show responsibility, unity, solidarity and altruism,” UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said after the teleconference with all 55 of its affiliated federations and representatives from clubs and leagues.
There are 200,000 confirmed cases of COVID globally, reaching more than 9,000 deaths. Last week, the WHO recognized Europe as the new epicenter of the pandemic. In Italy alone, over 30,000 confirmed infections and nearly 3,000 deaths at the time of writing. “It is the biggest crisis that football faced in history,” Ceferin added in an interview.
Held every four years, Euro 2020 is considered the most popular football tournament next to the World Cup in terms of international prestige. The European Championship generates around €2 billion for UEFA from sponsors and broadcasters. The economic situation in Europe and in the world will harm us as well,” Ceferin said in a separate interview.
The FA’s chief executive, Mark Bullingham also said, “People’s health and wellbeing has to be the primary concern for us all, so we fully support Uefa’s decision to postpone Euro 2020. We will be considering the implications for all England teams and our organisation over the coming days, including any implications on the date of the 2021 women’s Euro which we are very proud to be hosting.”
Previously, all five of Europe’s top domestic soccer leagues – Premier League (England), La Liga (Spain0, Serie A (Italy), Ligue 1 (France) and Bundesliga (Germany) – are halted. Meanwhile, this year’s Copa América by the South American Football Federation was also postponed and also due to resume from 11 June to 11 July 2021. The announcement came shortly after UEFA’s decision to cancel Euro 2020.
“It’s an extraordinary measure due to an unexpected situation, and therefore responds to the fundamental need to avoid an exponential evolution of the virus,” said CONMEBOL. “We also thank UEFA and its president Aleksander Ceferin for working together and the co-ordinated decision to also postpone the 2020 Euros for the betterment of the whole football family.”