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March 17, 20204min380

This summer’s European Championship has been postponed until 2021, Uefa has decided, as it contemplates the unprecedented disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

European football’s governing body held its scheduled conference call with the continent’s 55 national football associations at noon UK time and 17 minutes later the Norwegian FA was the first to tweet the news that the tournament has been postponed until next year. Shortly after 2pm GMT, Uefa confirmed the news in a statement.

The proposed new dates are Friday 11 June until Sunday 11 July 2021, with decisions on dates for other club and international competitions for men or women to “be taken and announced in due course”.

“We are at the helm of a sport that vast numbers of people live and breathe that has been laid low by this invisible and fast-moving opponent,” said the Uefa president, Aleksander Ceferin. “It is at times like these, that the football community needs to show responsibility, unity, solidarity and altruism.

“The health of fans, staff and players has to be our No 1 priority and in that spirit, Uefa tabled a range of options so that competitions can finish this season safely and I am proud of the response of my colleagues across European football. There was a real spirit of co-operation, with everyone recognising that they had to sacrifice something in order to achieve the best result.”

The tournament was due to have been held this year from 12 June to 12 July in cities of 12 countries right across Europe, including London, Glasgow and Dublin. Wembley was due to host seven matches, including the semi-finals and the final.

The postponement was widely expected after national leagues and Uefa’s own Champions League and Europa League club competitions were suspended last week and Europe became locked down by severe travel and social restrictions.

It emerged on Tuesday that Uefa last week cancelled its hotel bookings in Copenhagen, one of the host cities. The CPH Hotel told Reuters that Uefa had booked 80 of its 102 rooms but cancelled them a little over a week ago. The Marienlyst Strandhotel told Reuters that Uefa had cancelled rooms booked on behalf of the Denmark team, who are usually based there.

The postponement of the Euros potentially frees a month this summer to try to finish club competitions, which the Premier League, EFL and all European leagues hope to do, but this remains highly uncertain as it is impossible to know when normal life, including football and other sports, can resume.

The European Club Association (ECA), European Leagues and the international players’ union were involved in separate video-conference calls with Uefa after the first one with the 55 FAs, to discuss the possibilities for domestic competitions, and the Champions and Europa Leagues. (Additional reports from agencies)

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