By Michael Donovan
The governing body of European soccer has postponed its marquee championship for one year.
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.
The tournament that was due to open on June 12 in Rome is now scheduled for 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.
The European Championship final typically attracts a broadcast audience of 300 million worldwide and the 51-game tournament made UEFA a profit of 830 million euros ($912 million) four years ago.
“Moving Euro 2020 comes at a huge cost for UEFA,” Ceferin said in a statement.
In a later interview with The Associated Press, Ceferin estimated the cost of postponing the tournament at “hundreds of millions” of euros (dollars). UEFA reported reserves of 574.8 million euros ($632 million) in its annual accounts published this month.
Playing in June 2021 also takes match dates from other national team games for which UEFA already sold broadcast and sponsor rights.