Euro 2020 will now be taking place in 2021 in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic following an agreement reached by UEFA -- European football's governing body -- and other key organizations on Tuesday, per BBC. The tournament was originally scheduled to kick off on June 12, and sees 24 national teams playing in stadiums across Europe, the first time the contest was scheduled to be held beyond the confines of a single country. Euro 2021 is currently scheduled to take place between June 11 and July 11 in 2021.
The announcement of the delay follows an emergency meeting between UEFA and all 55 of its affiliated national federations, with representatives from several clubs and leagues also in attendance. The UEFA statement announcing the postponement also confirmed the delay of all men's and women's UEFA competitions -- and matches for clubs and national teams -- until further notice. This delay includes the qualifying playoffs for Euro 2020.
UEFA's decision grants the postponed domestic leagues across Europe the freedom to complete their schedule in their preferred method. UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin commented on the decision in the governing body's statement.
"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 had originally scheduled 16 matches -- matches that would have been played between March 26 and March 31 -- to determine the final teams to qualify for the tournament. Those matches are tentatively scheduled to go ahead in early June, subject to consideration at the time.
Euro 2020 is the latest sporting event to be canceled or postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. All five of Europe's major football leagues -- England, Spain, Italy, France, and Germany -- have been suspended, along with the Champions League, Europa League, and World Cup qualifiers. CONMEBOL, South American football's governing body, also announced that the 2020 edition of the Copa America would be delayed until 2021.
UEFA's decision sought to address concerns by clubs over the loss of ticket sales and match-day revenue if the domestic seasons were unable to be completed as originally planned. Ceferin explained that addressing those concerns -- and ensuring honoring of player contracts -- was of the utmost importance to UEFA.
"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."