Euro 2020 soccer championship postponed by one year

UEFA announces that Euro 2020 will be held next summer due to coronavirus outbreak.

Ben Ariel ,

Soccer (illustration)
Soccer (illustration)

UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, on Tuesday postponed its marquee championship for one year, The Associated Press reported.

Euro 2020 became Euro 2021 in a major shift for an international soccer calendar that is on lockdown because of the coronavirus outbreak and with no clear end in sight.

The virus currently "makes football and all life in Europe quite impossible," UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said, according to AP.

The tournament was due to open on June 12 in Rome but is now scheduled to take place next year from June 11 to July 11, in the same 12 host nations.

It is far from clear when the public health crisis could ease enough for European soccer to resume. Still, taking Euro 2020 off the calendar clears valuable weeks in June when domestic leagues and cups, and the Champions League and Europa League, could be completed.

"We think postponing the Euro is the only (way) to get a chance to the national leagues and to all the club competitions to finish," Ceferin said.

The UEFA executive committee made the decision after hosting a video conference call with its 55 national member federations.

Euro 2020 was scheduled to be played in a dozen countries from Ireland to Azerbaijan, and Russia to Italy. A one-year postponement became UEFA’s favored option last week.

"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," UEFA said on Tuesday.

Qualifying games for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are also scheduled for June 2021 in most European countries. There is currently no space in the calendar to reschedule all those games, and a reduced qualifying program will likely be considered.

The soccer championships are the latest major sporting event to be affected by the coronavirus epidemic.

The NBA suspended its season last week after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus.

It was followed by the NHL which suspended its season as well, and MLB which cancelled Spring Training and delayed the start of its regular season, which had been scheduled for March 26.

As of now, the Tokyo Olympics scheduled for this summer have not been cancelled or postponed, though that could eventually change.