Uefa has today decided to postpone its 2020 European Championship by 12 months in a bid to help domestic competitions across Europe be completed.
The move, which was anticipated, comes as a response to the Covid-19 outbreak and has been echoed by the rescheduling of South America’s Copa América national team tournament until 2021.
Announcing the decision made in conjunction with stakeholders, Uefa said this afternoon that “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”.
European football’s flagship national teams tournament was due to be staged this summer across a dozen different European cities between June 12 and July 12. It has now been rescheduled to June 11 to July 11, 2021.
Play-offs for the tournament, which were due to be held later this month, have been pushed back until the start of June, subject to a “review of the situation”.
Uefa said: “A working group has been set up with the participation of leagues and club representatives to examine calendar solutions that would allow for the completion of the current season and any other consequence of the decisions made today.”
The Nyon-based body held an emergency meeting today via videoconference with representatives from its 55 member associations, the European Club Association, European Leagues and a representative from FIFPro.
No decision was made on dates for the remainder of the 2019-20 Uefa Champions League and Europa League competitions.
As is stands, the expanded 24-team Fifa Club World Cup is scheduled to take place between mid-June and the start of July, 2021.
The postponement of Euro 2020 is expected to have the knock-on effect of a rescheduling of the 2021 Uefa Women’s European Championship, which was due to take place in England next summer (from July 11 to August 1). It is expected that the tournament will be moved to the summer of 2022 although Uefa has yet to confirm the plans.
Aleksander Čeferin, the Uefa president, said that moving Euro 2020 would come at a “huge cost” for the continental federation, adding that “purpose over profit has been our guiding principle in taking this decision for the good of European football as a whole”.
The Euro 2016 tournament in France, the first to involve 24 teams, generated €1.92bn ($2.07bn) in revenues, including €1.02bn in broadcast rights revenues. While still working to the plan of hosting the European Championship this summer, Uefa recently approved a budget of over €4bn for the 2020-21 financial year.
The Slovenian said: “The health of fans, staff and players has to be our number one priority and in that spirit, Uefa tabled a range of options so that competitions can finish this season safely and I am proud of the response of my colleagues across European football. There was a real spirit of co-operation, with everyone recognising that they had to sacrifice something in order to achieve the best result.
“It was important that, as the governing body of European football, Uefa led the process and made the biggest sacrifice…
“…football is an uplifting and powerful force in society. The thought of celebrating a pan-European festival of football in empty stadia, with deserted fanzones while the continent sits at home in isolation, is a joyless one and one we could not accept to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the competition.”
Conmebol’s Copa América tournament was due to take place from June 12 to July 12 this year but will now take place next year. The decision was taken given the number of South American players based in Europe who would have to travel back for the tournament and as European leagues try to finish their 2019-20 seasons.
The 2021 Copa América will, like the European Championship, be rescheduled to between June 11 and July 11, 2021.
Alejandro Domínguez, the Conmebol president, said: “It is an extraordinary measure for an unexpected situation, and therefore responds to the fundamental need to avoid an exponential evolution of the virus; present in all the countries of the member associations of the Confederation. It has not been easy for Conmebol to make this decision, but we must safeguard at all times the health of our athletes and all the agents who are part of the great family of South American football.”