UEFA has announced the postponement of EURO 2020 after a meeting between its 55 member nations discussed the coronavirus pandemic.
The tournament - which is due to take place in 12 different cities across Europe, with its semi-finals and final taking place at Wembley - will be postponed for a year, until the summer of 2021 as Ceferin hailed the decision as a victory for 'purpose over profit'.
"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. It is at times like these, that the football community needs to show responsibility, unity, solidarity and altruism," said Aleksander Ceferin, President, UEFA.
“The health of fans, staff and players has to be our number one 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.
“It was important that, as the governing body of European football, UEFA led the process and made the biggest sacrifice. Moving EURO 2020 comes at a huge cost for UEFA but we will do our best to ensure that the vital funding for grassroots, women’s football and the development of the game in our 55 countries is not affected. Purpose over profit has been our guiding principle in taking this decision for the good of European football as a whole.
Such a postponement could allow time for national football leagues across the continent to finish their domestic leagues, but the Women’s EURO 2021 is scheduled to overlap with the dates of the men’s competition.
The switch could mean both competitions taking place in England at the same time, with the latter stages of the men’s competition taking place during the opening days of the women’s.
Ceferin's announcement also came as the South American football federation, CONMEBOL, confirmed that the 2020 Copa America would also be moved to 2021.
“Football is an uplifting and powerful force in society," continued Ceferin. "The thought of celebrating a pan-European festival of football in empty stadia, with deserted fan zones while the continent sits at home in isolation, is a joyless one and one we could not accept to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the competition.
“I would like to thank the European Club Association, the European Leagues and FIFPro Europe for their great work today and for their cooperation. I would also like to thank from the bottom of my heart the 55 national associations, their Presidents and General Secretaries, and my colleagues from the Executive Committee for their support and wise decisions. The fine detail will be worked out in the coming weeks but the basic principles have been agreed and that is a major step forward. We have all shown that we are responsible leaders. We have demonstrated solidarity and unity. Purpose over profit. We’ve achieved this today.
“I would also like to thank Alejandro Dominguez and CONMEBOL, who have agreed to move CONMEBOL’s 2020 Copa America in order to follow the recommendations issued by the international public health organisations to enact extreme measures and as a result of EURO 2020 being postponed. This means that clubs and leagues in Europe will have as little disruption as possible in the availability of their players. These joint efforts and especially this coordinated and responsible decision, are deeply appreciated by the whole European football community.
“I would like to thank FIFA and its President, Gianni Infantino, who has indicated it will do whatever is required to make this new calendar work. In the face of this crisis, football has shown its best side with openness, solidarity and tolerance.”
The European football stakeholders teleconference involved all 55 member associations as well as the European Club Association and the European Leagues.