UEFA have confirmed the decision to postpone the European Championship until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. A statement confirmed the postponement, with the dates of June 11 to July 11, 2021 proposed.
The official announcement from European football’s governing body also confirmed that the Euro 2020 play-offs, due to be played later this month, will now be played in the June 2020 international break.
It also confirmed that the 2020 Copa America would also move to 2021 to enable South American players based in Europe the opportunity to finish their league campaigns.
The statement did not confirm new dates for the Champions League and Europa League finals, with June 27 and June 24 having been reported.
There was also no confirmation at this stage as to whether the Women’s Euro 2021 would be moved as a result of the men’s tournament being postponed.
Instead the statement said decisions on dates for other UEFA competitions would be taken “in due course”.
The statement also hinted at some kind of compromise concerning the 2021 Club World Cup, with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin saying: “I would like to thank FIFA and its president, Gianni Infantino, who has indicated it will do whatever is required to make this new calendar work.
“In the face of this crisis, football has shown its best side with openness, solidarity and tolerance.”
Reaction: FAs back decision
The Football Association’s chief executive Mark Bullingham has backed UEFA’s decision to postpone Euro 2020.
“People’s health and well-being has to be the primary concern for all of us, so we fully support UEFA’s decision to postpone EURO 2020,” Bullingham said.
“We’ll 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.
“We’ll continue to work in collaboration with the PL, EFL and our football partners on the scenarios that could follow UEFA’s decision today and ensure we’re ready to put them into immediate action once it is appropriate to do so.
“Until then, we’ll continue to follow the advice of Government and the health authorities.”
Gary Owens, interim chief executive at the Football Association of Ireland, insisted plans will immediately get under way regarding the four fixtures set to be hosted in Dublin during the Euros, which will now occur in 2021.
He said: “UEFA has made the right decision today in the interests of the health and well-being of football players, fans and staff alike.
“We support this decision and we look forward to working with all our stakeholders on reorganising UEFA Euro 2021 for Dublin next year.
“We would like to thank all our partners – the government, Dublin City Council, Aviva Stadium and all the agencies and partners who have worked really well with us on the UEFA Euro 2020 project for the last few years.
“We have agreed with these partners that we will now begin to plan together for the four UEFA Euro 2021 games here next year which will be the centenary year of the FAI.”
FAI president Gerry McAnaney backed UEFA’s decision, adding: “The health of the community is of paramount importance to the FAI so we support this decision by UEFA today.
“The most important thing now is for football to work together during this pandemic. I appeal to our players, supporters and staff to look out for each other and to follow the HSE guidelines at all times.
“Irish football will return and we have much to look forward to now in the coming months and in welcoming Europe to Dublin in our centenary year of 2021.”
Scottish Football Association chief executive Ian Maxwell also backed UEFA’s decision, but cast serious doubt on the preferred timescale for the play-offs.
“I think it’s difficult to envisage a situation where the current situation clears up in time for us to play games in June,” Maxwell said in a video on the SFA’s Twitter account.
“Obviously there are a number of countries involved in the play-off, the virus is at various stages across the world and there may be some countries that see themselves coming out of that situation a little bit quicker than others.
“We will take advice from the medical teams and we will liaise with UEFA. Whether we can get the game played in June will be up for debate. We would love to think so but it’s probably unlikely at this point.”
- When will it now be played?
The tournament will now take place from June 11 to July 11 in 2021. Euro 2020 was due to be staged in 12 different cities across Europe from June 12 to July 12 this summer, with the semi-finals and final to be at Wembley.
- What happens to the play-offs?
The qualifying play-off semi-finals and finals, which were due to take place at the end of the month, have now been rescheduled for the international window at the end of June, subject to a review. Given the current levels of disruption that may seem ambitious, but UEFA knows a further delay
would impact the Nations League scheduled for the autumn. Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are all due to take part in the play-offs, with England and Wales having already qualified.
- How does this affect club competitions?
UEFA said the decision was made with “priority given to completing domestic competitions” before the European Championship takes place. No new dates have been given for the Champions League or Europa League games affected by the postponement, with a working group established to look at possibilities.
UEFA’s statement also confirmed that the 2020 Copa America is moving to prevent European clubs losing players to international duty as they are trying to complete their seasons. UEFA did not confirm the new dates for the confirmation, but it has been reported it will also be staged in the summer of 2021.
- Purpose over profit – Ceferin
UEFA president Alexander Ceferin said: “It was important that, as the governing body of European football, UEFA led the process and made the biggest sacrifice. Moving Euro 2020 comes at a huge cost for UEFA but we will do our best to ensure that the vital funding for grassroots, women’s football and the development of the game in our 55 countries is not affected. Purpose over profit has been our guiding principle in taking this decision for the good of European football as a whole.”