UEFA’s decision to postpone this year’s Men’s European Championships until next year, has been met with disappointment, but equally, an understanding and acknowledgement that this was undeniably the correct decision.
The decision was taken at an emergency video conference involving major stakeholders on Tuesday, but has surprised few, given the number of high-profile sporting events which have been cancelled in recent days.
The Championships are scheduled to take place next year now, between 11th June and 11th July, with the remaining qualifying matches moved to later this June.
In order to accomodate the men’s edition however, UEFA have also confirmed that the Women’s EUROS, which was due to start in England on 7th July 2021 at Old Trafford, will also have to be rescheduled.
The understanding is that the Women’s tournament will now fill the vacant 2022 summer slot, with the men’s World Cup that year already pushed back to the winter to suit Qatar’s weather conditions.
However, UEFA’s President Aleksander Ceferin has not necessarily ruled out the option of playing the men’s and women’s EUROS back to back, and insists this idea is still very much on the table.
Both of these options have their complications. Pushing the women’s competition back to 2022, would likely see sponsors have to be re-negotiated, as would Phil Neville’s contract, if he were to continue, which is set to expire in 2021.
Yet at the same time, would following the men’s tournament prevent the women’s game from receiving the level of exposure it not only needs, but also deserves? Would fans engage with the women’s EUROS after the men’s is over? Would it not be better to put the women’s competition before the men’s?
These are all questions that need answering but are yet to be addressed. Postponing the men’s EUROS may undoubtedly have been the best decision from a safety perspective, but there is still a chance that the re-scheduling could be hugely detrimental to the women’s game.
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