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90 DAYS TO KICKOFF, EURO 2020 COULD BE DELAYED BY A YEAR

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UEFA will consider the option of postponing Euro 2020 during a video conference with its 55 federations, a source close to European football’s governing body said on Thursday as the sport faced up to the growing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 24-team European Championship, scheduled in 12 countries from June 12 to July 12, could be pushed back a year or be reorganised with different venues, the source said.

UEFA will hold a video conference meeting on Tuesday and, as well as the federations, representatives of clubs, leagues and players will discuss the impact of the coronavirus on all European fixtures.

The quadrennial championship is the biggest national team tournament after the World Cup and a major source of revenue for UEFA and its member organisations.

UEFA has declined to discuss the options, saying on Thursday that the “discussions will include all domestic and European competitions, including UEFA Euro 2020”.

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“Further communication will be made following those meetings,” it said.

The source added that as well as postponement, other options that will be considered include switching venues and a possible change to the format of the tournament.

One complication is the need to finish domestic and European club competitions before the tournament begins to ensure qualification for next season’s UEFA competitions is decided.

One football federation official said “all options are on the table”, but suggested the priority was finding ways to finish the club season – even if games are delayed until the summer.

This season’s Champions League and the second-tier Europa League were thrown into doubt with UEFAannouncing yesterday that all matches next week will be postponed. The discussions are expected to cover the range of options for the two elite club competitions, including switching to one-legged games, the source said.

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English Premier League side Chelsea, who were scheduled to travel to Bayern Munich for their last-16 second-leg Champions League game on Wednesday, were in quarantine after winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for the virus.

Juventus and Real Madrid were also isolated for similar reasons, with their Champions League matches on Tuesday against Lyon and Manchester City respectively postponed.

Two Europa League games on Thursday had to be deferred because Getafe refused to travel to face Inter Milan, and AS Roma said they could not travel to face Sevilla because of flight restrictions.

Domestic leagues around the continent had also been put on hold or their matches were taking place behind closed doors.

REUTERS

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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