By now we can safely say that, no matter where you're reading this at the moment, your day-to-day routine has been impacted by the Coronavirus. From school cancellations, barren supermarkets, state mandated limits on crowd sizes and the closure of bars and restaurants, there haven't been many facets of modern life left unscathed by this pandemic.
For the non-Europeans among us, by virtue of following Italian football as closely as we do, we sort of had an indication where all this was heading. There was simply no way that norm-saving measures like closed door matches, no matter how well-intentioned, were going to last very long in the face of an actual global pandemic.
With virtually every European football association postponing their leagues indefinitely, the question quickly turned to continental football: What was going to happen to UEFA's elite club and international competitions?
For some reason, when UEFA convened last week to decide the immediate future of the Europa League and the Champions League—ultimately postponing those competitions indefinitely—they decided to punt the Euro 2020 decision down the road a week.
With most, if not all, of their member nations suspending their domestic leagues a minimum of 30 days due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the notion of holding Euro 2020 as planned, starting June 12th in Rome, was absurd. For one, Italy is practically the epicenter of the pandemic, and for another, there was simply no way domestic leagues could complete their full schedules and leave enough time for players, coaches, and national associations to prepare for this summer's Euros.
Considering all those logistical hurdles, UEFA finally made the call we've been expecting for over a week now:
UEFA today announced the postponement of UEFA EURO 2020.— UEFA (@UEFA) March 17, 2020
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...
According to the official release, UEFA has postponed Euro 2020 by one year, with the tournament kicking off on June 11, 2021 rather than June 12, 2020.
Per the release:
UEFA today announced the postponement of its flagship national team competition, UEFA EURO 2020, due to be played in June and July this year. 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. The move will help all domestic competitions, currently on hold due to the COVID-19 emergency, to be completed.
All UEFA competitions and matches (including friendlies) for clubs and national teams for both men and women have 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 EURO 2020 was scheduled to take place in twelve cities across Europe from 12 June to 12 July 2020. The proposed new dates are 11 June - 11 July 2021.
While it took a week longer than we expected, UEFA made the correct call here. With the outbreak showing no signs of abating in Europe yet, there is simply no way UEFA could have assumed things would correct themselves by mid June, especially not with the tournament taking place in multiple nations. This decision also indirectly affirms that most, if not all, major European domestic leagues will play their full schedules, which will likely spill into early summer.
With Euro 2020 essentially becoming Euro 2021, UEFA will be contesting two European Championships next summer, as the women's tournament kicks-off on July 7th in England. The compacted schedule certainly didn't spring from a positive well, but it should provide an exciting summer for fans of international football next year.
FYI: If you had tickets for Euro 2020 and cannot attend the new dates, UEFA says they will issue full refunds.