The pandemic-delayed 2020 Euros remains on track to be held across 12 nations, per UEFA. Will another virus surge result in another postponement?
UEFA said it remains on track, for now, to hold the rescheduled and eagerly-anticipated European Championship this summer across 12 countries.
The announcement on Wednesday comes as the pandemic continues to cause trouble across the continent and vaccinations have been too slow to stop the virus’ spread.
“UEFA is committed to holding EURO 2020 in the 12 cities originally planned,” UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said in a statement. “The Euro is the flagship competition for national team football in Europe and is a vital source of funding for grassroots and wider football development.”
The continental competition was delayed last March just as the pandemic swept across Europe and eventually the rest of the world. The tournament had originally been scheduled to take place from June 12 to July 12, 2020.
The Euros, which coincided with the 60th anniversary of the tournament, was supposed to be held across 12 cities rather than in a single host nation.
UEFA said host cities will have until April to decide whether fans can attend games.
“I am optimistic that things are highly likely to be very different with regard to the virus as we move closer to the tournament and it is important that we give the host cities and governments as much time as we can to formulate an accurate picture of what will be possible come June and July,” Ceferin added.
What happens next?
Scrapping the tournament or delaying it again would be too financially disastrous, but UEFA will most likely have to restructure their plans.
A final decision on how the Euros will look is due sometime in March, according to ESPN, with an acceptance within UEFA that waiting until its Congress on April 20 would be too late to handle ticket refunds.
Ninety percent of tickets were sold before the pandemic and only a “minimal” number have been returned for a refund.
“Fans are such a big part of what makes football special and that is true of the Euro as much as it is of any game,” Ceferin said. “We must allow ourselves the maximum space to allow their return to the stadiums.”
What does Euro ’21 look like now?
The Euros, now scheduled to start on June 11, will open in Rome when Italy host Turkey at the Stadio Olimpico.
The tournament’s other host cities include London, Munich, Baku, Saint Petersburg, Budapest, Bucharest, Bilbao, Amsterdam, Glasgow, Dublin and Copenhagen.
London’s Wembley Stadium will host the semifinals and the final, now scheduled for July 11. Portugal are the defending European champions after winning the 2016 edition.
What is Plan B?
UEFA could decide to alter the format, like it did with the knockout stages of the Champions League last year, and hold the tournament in a bubble. That would be the use of just a few venues in a single country with limited or no fans.
Both England France could host such a tournament, although Russia is also a consideration since they hosted the World Cup just two years ago.