BRITAIN SOCCER UEFA EURO 2020 CORONAVIRUS
After being forced to postpone the European Championship for one year, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin fears football on the continent is facing its biggest crisis ever.
Taking a tough decision that became more inevitable by the day, the governing body of European soccer postponed Euro 2020 on Tuesday.
UEFA's marquee championship 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.
"It is the biggest crisis that football faced in history," Ceferin said in a television interview with The Associated Press from his native Slovenia.
"We all know that this terrible virus that is all across Europe made football and all life in Europe quite impossible. We knew we have to stop the competitions."
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.
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 ($A1.5 billion) four years ago.
"Moving Euro 2020 comes at a huge cost for UEFA," Ceferin said in a statement.
Euro 2020 was scheduled to be played in a dozen countries from Ireland to Azerbaijan, and Russia to Italy.
"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.
Also, 16 of UEFA's members are involved in the Euro 2020 playoffs, which were scheduled to be played on March 26 and 31.
They will decide the last four entries in the 24-nation final tournament, and could now be played in early June.
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.
Completing domestic league seasons would allow titles to be awarded and decide entries for the next Champions League and Europa League.
If resuming the season is possible, UEFA's options to complete this season include playing the quarter-finals and semi-finals as single games instead of over two legs.
Postponing Euro 2020 has also created a backlog of national team games in a packed calendar managed by FIFA.
In a coordinated move, UEFA was followed on Tuesday by South American soccer body CONMEBOL, which postponed the Copa America one year to the same playing dates.