UEFA response to coronavirus: Assessing the possible impact on Champions League, Euro 2020
Reactions to the coronavirus pandemic have thrown world football into uncertainty. In the past 72 hours, a host of leagues joined Switzerland and Italy in suspending operations, including Spain, Portugal, Norway, Belgium, Denmark, Scotland and Holland, along with Major League Soccer in the USA. The Premier League soldiered on until Friday, when it announced that it, too, was shutting down. The same call was made by officials in France and Germany to shut down their domestic competitions.
Other leagues are opting to play behind closed doors. UEFA did that with some games this week, but have postponed all of next week’s Champions League and Europa League games, with the fates of both competitions hanging in the balance.
Among the players and officials affected, Arsenal announced late on Thursday that manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus. So did Juventus defender Daniele Rugani, on Wednesday, and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi on Thursday. A host of clubs around Europe are adopting self-isolation protocols following presumed positive tests at Bournemouth, Leicester City and more.
There is a very real possibility that Euro 2020, the second-biggest football tournament in the world after the World Cup, could be canceled or postponed. Already, a number of friendlies scheduled for the international break later this month have been called off, while some of the qualifying playoffs for Euro 2020 are also at risk. (It’s worth noting the other competitions still hanging in the balance across the globe, like the CONCACAF Nations League, Olympics and South America’s signature Copa America, too.)
As the pandemic spreads, governments react and policies change, and the simple truth is that we can only speculate as to what might happen next. But football authorities are working on scenarios and contingencies.
Here is an attempt to answer some questions you might have concerning the rest of the European season and beyond.