UEFA chief “optimistic” that Euro 2020 will be joined by fans in stadiums

In statement earlier this week, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) chief is both hopeful and confident that fans may be able to attend the postponed 32-team European Championship next year. In March, a tough decision was made by the UEFA, as their largest European Championship men’s soccer tournament was called off due to the threat of global pandemic.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin talked in an exclusinginterview regarding the future of the tournament. The governing body chief did not rule out the possibility of having to change the controversial format for the tournament, which is due to be staged in 12 cities all across the continent. It is learnt that the format of the tournament was once criticized by many outlets.

“What didn’t seem strange in January seemed strange in March.Maybe something that seems strange now will not seem strange in December or January,” Ceferin told a news portal in Lisbon, where the Champions League restarted its matches. “We still have time to think about it. For now we stay at the same format, and we hope and believe that we will have spectators in the stadiums.”

The European Championship, which was set to be held across Europe – Azerbaijan, UK, Hungary, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Romania, Scotland– to mark UEFA’s 60th anniversary will now take place from June 11 to July 11 in 2021. Twenty-four teams will be competing for the trophy currently held by Portugal across six groups

Earlier, UEFA has confirmed its intention to use the same 12 host cities for the event next year but has yet to confirm a schedule for matches. “The UEFA EURO 2020 is foreseen to take place between 11 June and 11 July 2021 with the intention of having the same match schedule and the same host cities,” UEFA spokesperson told a news outlet.

When asked if the current restrictions that include playing without the fans will be applied for next year’s tournament, Ceferin remained optimistic. “I don’t want even to discuss about no spectators or a limited number of spectators. I want to stay optimistic, send positive energy, and I really personally believe we will have spectators,” he said. “If it turns out to be impossible, we will discuss then about it.”

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 tournament is the first biggest major sporting event to be postponed because of the pandemic. It was then followed by the Olympics in Tokyo.