KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- UEFA will decide in March on the shape of the rescheduled European Championship finals in June and July but the prospects of maintaining the original 12-venue extravaganza appear increasingly remote.
Dominique Blanc, president of the Swiss federation, has brought the issue out into the open by suggesting that the European federation should consider staging the finals in a tournament bubble in one single country – such as Germany or Russia - or even a single city such as London.
Everything rests on how and when Europe’s nations may emerge from the latest second wave of Covid-19. Even then the likelihood of any fans attending will be in the balance. Those fans who have purchased tickets have only until January 26 to claim a refund.
The tournament, to be held in 12 cities, was originally scheduled to take place from June 12 to July 12, 2020. Last March UEFA postponed it for one year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The rearranged timespan is June 11 to July 11 this year.
Blanc told local media in Switzerland: “I believe that the Euro finals will be played but no-one can yet say how. We are not sure what could happen.
“In view of the health situation, I personally believe that the initial version, with competition spread throughout Europe, is unlikely to see the light of day, given the travel restrictions.
“It seems to me, in any case, difficult. Right now I cannot imagine that Switzerland will be going to play in Baku as the draw states. ”
Blanc also assessed a return of spectators as “premature” this summer and proposed two alternatives for consideration.
He said: “The first variant would be to play the Euro in a single country, in Russia or Germany for example. The second solution, even more restrictive, would be to resort to a single large city, with enough stadiums to house the six groups. This could be the case in London.”
UEFA has insisted all along that any opinions about the finals are personal and that no decision will be taken until the executive committee meets in early March.
Last November UEFA refuted media reports in Paris and Moscow that next summer’s rescheduled Euro 2020 finals would be staged in Russia.
UEFA president Aleksandr Ceferin has insisted: “For now we are planning exactly the same Euro as we have planned. […] So we don’t have any plan Bs for now. We will wait and we will see. We will monitor the situation.
“We are always concerned about the situation but we are absolutely sure that the Euro will be played. It has to be played; it can be played.
“The only thing is that we don’t know if it will be with part of the spectators, full stadiums or no spectators. That depends on the health situation, but sport and football have to go on.
“For now, the plan is that we do it exactly as it is but I have to say that we could do a Euro, instead of in 12 countries, in 11, in eight, in five or in one country. So, we are still assessing the situation, we will see.”
The 12-country concept was developed and promoted by Frenchman Michel Platini during his term as president when UEFA was uncertain whether any country would bid to host the 2020 finals.
UEFA has been stuck ever since with a project whose air travel demands on teams and fans has come in for increasing criticism from ecological campaigners.