UEFA are among the major event organisers faced with a difficult decision in the coming months, with European football’s governing body having to decide how it can stage the European Championships during a pandemic.
Initially billed by then UEFA President Michel Platini as a celebration of football across Europe, a pan-European tournament seemed complicated at the time.
The delayed 2020 tournament seems one of the least pandemic-proof events on the sporting calendar for the year, amid heightened restrictions in several countries.
The thought of staging a tournament across 12 cities in 12 different countries seems extremely challenging given the current climate, where travel corridors are being restricted to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Albeit different circumstances, the logistics and challenges already experienced by the Australian Open in flying tennis players to one venue in the circumstances would surely raise concerns about flying athletes to and from various locations.
UEFA are currently proceeding with the planned tournament, which is understandable given the work that has been put in by local organisers.
Under the current plans, Wembley in London is already set to host group stage matches, the semi-finals, and final. Munich, Rome, St Petersburg and Baku will host quarter-finals as well as group-stage clashes, while Copenhagen, Bucharest, Amsterdam, Dublin, Bilbao, Glasgow and Budapest will host group and last-16 action.
UEFA has reportedly asked the host cities to draw up plans for four different scenarios – full stadiums, 50 per cent capacity, 20 to 30 per cent capacity or behind closed doors, while there have also been suggestions organisers could reduce the number of venues used.
Another suggestion is to effectively revert back to the European Championships traditional model of having a single host, one which was put forward by Swiss Football Association President Dominique Blanc earlier this week.
“One option could be to host the Euro in one country, in Russia or Germany,” he told Swiss newspaper 24 Heures.
“A second option would be to pick a metropolis with enough stadiums to stage the six groups.
“London for example.”
Blanc’s suggestion makes sense to me for several reasons.
The coronavirus risks would surely be reduced by keeping the competing teams in a set location throughout the duration of the tournament.
I suspect a single host would be able to base teams at the training bases of club sides and benefit from the protocols they have used throughout the European club season to date.
These have largely been held successfully, albeit leagues have been impacted by postponements recently amid the rise in coronavirus…
Read More:Reverting to a single host appears the best option for Euro 2020