Football’s governing bodies in Europe and South America have postponed this year’s scheduled continental championships by a year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
UEFA said it has decided to delay Euro 2020 – due to be staged this summer in 12 different European countries – over health concerns and to avoid placing further pressure on national public services. UEFA, which held a videoconference with all its member federations earlier today (Tuesday), added that the move is also in part to help all domestic competitions, currently on hold due to the COVID-19 emergency, to be completed.
UEFA added that 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 during today’s videoconference.
UEFA Euro 2020, which was scheduled to open in Rome on June 12, is now likely to be played between June 11 to July 11 of next year. CONMEBOL has also delayed South America’s Copa America, which was scheduled to take place in Argentina and Colombia in June and July.
“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,” said Aleksander Čeferin, UEFA’s president.
“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.
“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.”
All UEFA competitions and matches for clubs and national teams for both men and women have now been put on hold until further notice.
The UEFA Euro 2020 play-off matches and international friendlies, scheduled for the end of March, will now be played in the international window at the start of June, subject to a review of the situation.
“UEFA would like to reassure existing ticket buyers and hospitality clients that if they cannot attend the tournament in 2021, the face value of their tickets and packages will be refunded in full,” UEFA added.
“Within the next month, further information on the refund process will be communicated to existing ticket buyers via e-mail and on euro2020.com/tickets.”
Čeferin added: “I would also like to thank Alejandro Dominguez and CONMEBOL, who have agreed to move CONMEBOL’s 2020 Copa America in order to follow the recommendations issued by the international public health organisations to enact extreme measures and as a result of EURO 2020 being postponed.
“This means that clubs and leagues in Europe will have as little disruption as possible in the availability of their players. These joint efforts and especially this coordinated and responsible decision, are deeply appreciated by the whole European football community.”
International motorsport, tennis and golf events have also been postponed due to the virus outbreak. On Tuesday it was announced the French Open at Roland Garros, scheduled for May, will now begin in September.
Major US leagues and domestic football competitions around the world are also on hold.
However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has today reaffirmed its commitment to hosting the Tokyo 2020 Games this year.
In a statement it said: “With more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage; and any speculation at this moment would be counter-productive.
“The IOC has confidence that the many measures being taken by many authorities around the world will help contain the situation of the COVID-19 virus.
“In this context, the IOC welcomes the support of the G7 leaders as expressed by Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, who said: ‘I want to hold the Olympics and Paralympics perfectly, as proof that the human race will conquer the new coronavirus, and I gained support for that from the G-7 leaders.'”
Organisers have already amended test events, altered the torch relay and are analysing the supply chain and considering the likely disruption to international travel.