Coronavirus: Euro 2020 delayed for a year
This summer's European Championship will be played in 2021, Uefa confirms, while all men's and women's competitions on hold 'until further notice'
Euro 2020 has been postponed by one year until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, Uefa has announced.
European football's governing body said in a statement that all its men's and women's club and national team competitions were also postponed.
The decision puts a halt to the current Champions League and Europa League, with global sport being brought to a virtual standstill by the coronavirus pandemic.
"All Uefa competitions and matches [including friendlies] for clubs and national teams for both men and women have been put on hold until further notice," said Uefa.
"The Uefa Euro 2020 play-off matches and international friendlies, scheduled for the end of March, will now be played in the international window at the start of June, subject to a review of the situation."
Uefa said postponing the Euros "will help all domestic competitions, currently on hold due to the Covid-19 emergency, to be completed."
It added that "the health of fans, staff and players has to be our number one priority".
A "working group" has been set up with the participation of leagues and club representatives to examine solutions to help the completion of domestic leagues, with England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain as well as many others postponing their seasons in a bid to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
Earlier, the Norwegian and Swedish Football Associations had let the cat out of the bag that this year's European Championship, to be held in 12 cities across the continent from June 12-July 12, was to be pushed back to 2021.
The Uefa statement also hinted at a compromise concerning the 2021 Fifa Club World Cup, with Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin saying: "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."
European football's governing body was holding an emergency video conference involving major stakeholders from its 55-member national associations, as well as representatives of the European Club Association, European Leagues and FIFPro Europe.
It is the first time in the history of the European Championship that the final stages have been postponed.
The tournament was due to take place in 12 cities: Amsterdam, Baku, Bilbao, Budapest, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome and Saint Petersburg, with the semi-finals and final due to be held at London's Wembley Stadium.
Twenty of the 24 teams set to take part have already qualified, but play-offs to determine the final four participants, due to be played later this month, will have to be rescheduled.
The move comes with football across the continent postponed as countries struggle to contain the spread of the novel Covid-19 virus.
The virus has infected almost 190,000 people and killed more than 7,500 worldwide, with the epicentre now in Europe as infection rates slow down in China where the outbreak began. Several European countries have issued border closures in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.
Several leagues, most notably Italy's Serie A, have urged Uefa to prioritise completing domestic competitions, reflecting a concern that clubs throughout Europe will lose significant ticket and other revenue by not completing the season while still having to pay their players and staff salaries.
Cancelled seasons would also risk significant compensation claims from rights-holding TV broadcasters, with England's Premier League, Spain's La La Liga and others broadcast around the world to huge audiences. England's Premier League were due to meet on Thursday to discuss their next move, with all matches postponed until at least April 4.
The 2021 Uefa Women's European Championship is set to take place in England and begins on July 7, four days before the proposed men's final.
The statement said decisions on dates for other Uefa competitions would be taken "in due course".
The Euros was not the only major tournament to see its dates moved.
Conmebol, the South American Football Confederation announced on Tuesday that this year's Copa America, due to be held in Argentina and Colombia from June 12-July 12, would also be pushed back 12 months.
The other major event on this year's sporting calendar, the Tokyo Olympics, will still go ahead, for now, at least, after the International Olympic Committee said it had no plans for any "drastic" decisions about the summer Games.
Updated: March 17, 2020 09:24 PM