UEFA is predicted to postpone Euro 2020 by up to a year on Tuesday, as European football’s administration considers its response to the fallout of the continued coronavirus pandemic.
All of Europe’s leading domestic leagues ground to a halt last week with football confronting its biggest issue in times, and the fate of UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League competitions must even be determined.
UEFA will hold a video conference with representatives from all 55 member associations also as from clubs and players’ bodies. it’ll then hold an executive board meeting at 1400 (1300 GMT) at its Swiss headquarters.
The future of the European Championship, due to happen for the first time in a dozen different cities spread across the continent from June 12 to July 12, is up in the air.
The “dark scenarios” that UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin warned against envisaging when he spoke at the organisation’s congress in Amsterdam just two weeks ago now have to be considered.
Europe has become the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, with Italy and Spain on lockdown, France rapidly following suit, and other countries closing borders to halt the spread of the outbreak.
More than 2,100 people have died in Italy, which is supposed to host the opening game of Euro 2020 in Rome.
Postponed for a year?
The head of the Italian football federation, Gabriele Gravina, has already proposed that the Euros be postponed, with Italy coach Roberto Mancini calling for it to pushed back 12 months.
“We would have won the European Championship this summer, we can also win it in 2021,” Mancini told TV station Rai Sport.
It is a position that many across the continent are coming round to amid much uncertainty on when club football can resume.
“UEFA has no choice. they need to postpone the Euros and the Champions League,” one senior figure within the world game told AFP, although finding agreement across the board might not be easy.
German league chief Christian Seifert believes postponing the European Championship is inevitable.
“I firmly count on the fact the tournament will be postponed,” Seifert said. “The probability that we have perfect Euros this summer is measured by a number close to zero.”
German broadcaster ZDF reported that two possible options are on the table.
One is to push it back to 2021, although that’s not as simple as it might appear, as it would need FIFA president Gianni Infantino to agree to halt the inaugural edition of his highly lucrative Club world cup, due to take place in June and July next year in China with some of Europe’s top club sides involved.
FIFA offered “no comment” on Monday on the matter.
There is also the difficulty of the women’s European Championship, scheduled to run from July 7 to August 1 next year in England, with the ultimate at Wembley.
The London venue is also alleged to hold the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020. UEFA has also planned to stage an Under-21 Euros in Hungary and Slovenia in June next year.
The alternative option for UEFA, according to ZDF, is to maintain a Euro 2020 by playing it later within the year.
Financial stakes ‘enormous’
That supposes that the crisis will have calmed down by then, and there is also the issue of all the other football that has been suspended.
UEFA may decide to try to finish the Champions League and Europa League by curtailing the competitions, meaning ties up to the semi-finals could be decided in one-off matches.
Financially, UEFA would undoubtedly prefer postponing their flagship tournaments to canceling them altogether or playing matches behind closed doors.
“The financial stakes are enormous,” according to one senior figure in the international game. “We know that FIFA has significant reserves but we don’t realize UEFA or the various leagues.”