The Coronavirus Outbreak Puts UEFA Euro 2020 At Risk

Tuesday03 March 2020 | 8:33
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The 2020 UEFA European Football Championship is supposed to take place in Summer 2020; nevertheless, the competition seems to be at risk as coronavirus continues to spread through the world.

UEFA Euro 2020: A joyful event to unify the world

UEFA Euro 2020 represents the 60th anniversary of the competition. In order to celebrate this milestone, UEFA has decided to hold the football matches of the tournament in several cities across Europe, and thus engage the continent.

This commitment is mainly made to unite the people with different nationalities, histories and cultures. Furthermore, UEFA Euro 2020 provides a great opportunity for many cities and countries to improve their economic situation. As Gianni Infantino stated: “Instead of having a party in one country, we will have a party all over Europe in the summer of 2020… An opportunity like this, to give many cities and many countries the possibility to host even just one part of a Euro, is certainly an excellent thing; especially in times when you have an economic situation where you cannot expect countries to invest in facilities in the way that such an event requires.”

Accordingly, UEFA is attempting to bring the competition closer to the fans and use football as an unifying effort. 12 cities would host UEFA Euro 2020 from 12 June to 12 July and bring forth a great time for the fans to learn about a variety of arts, histories and cultures. Focusing on the fans, UEFA offers digital services that involve free public transport in most of the host cities on match days.

It would be interesting to know that even “Uniforia”, the official match ball of UEFA Euro 2020 made by Adidas, represents the diversity of the football fans who will cross the boundaries and borders to join together.

It appears that UEFA’s endeavors has paid off and the world is embracing Euro 2020 with passion. At the moment, UEFA Euro 2020 has received a record number of 28.3 million ticket requests while the overall available tickets of the competition are 2.5 million. Indeed, football has shown its’ exceptional power to unify the world one more time.

Coronavirus outbreak: A tragic event to keep the humans apart

Reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019, coronavirus (COVID-19) started spreading throughout the world rapidly. The virus can lead to severe respiratory diseases and may involve symptoms such as fever, cough, or difficulties in breathing. It should be noted that the symptoms of the new coronavirus may appear several days after exposure. One of the main problems with COVID-19 is how the virus spreads from one person to another. This type of Coronavirus can spread from person-to-person by having a close contact with an infected person or inhaling his/her respiratory droplets when he/she coughs or sneezes. It also can spread through contact with infected objects and surfaces. At the moment, more than 90,000 cases are known to be infected around the world. Despite the attempts to contain the spread of the virus, many countries are now affected by the disease.

Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise to know that sports, including football, have not remained intact. First of all, it seems that China might have to endure a chaotic period through which Chinese Super League clubs, who have signed illustrious foreign players in recent years, will fail to do well in the transfer market. Moreover, China, Japan, and South Korea have kept the domestic league games on hold. Many countries are trying to continue the league fixtures; nonetheless, the coronavirus outbreak is closing many stadiums and forcing numerous football matches to be postponed or played without any spectators.

The most notable league that is severely affected is Serie A. Outside of Asia, coronavirus has infected Italy the most. Reports suggest there are more than 2000 cases and 52 deaths in the country so far. This dire situation has led five football matches in Serie A to be played in empty stadiums. Among these matches is the clash between Juventus and Inter Milan; the Italian giants who are very close to each other in the race for the league title this season. Coronavirus also messed with Europa League as Inter Milan was forced to meet Ludogorets behind closed doors at San Siro Stadium as well. Another sad news involved UEFA Champions League where a Valencia fan who tested positive for the new coronavirus after attending the club’s match against Atalanta in Italy. It seems clear that a variety of major sporting events are at risk because of the worldwide outbreak of coronavirus.

UEFA Euro 2020 vs Coronavirus

UEFA Euro 2020 kicks off in Rome on 12 June with the opening ceremony and the first match of the tournament taking place in Stadio Olympico. Italy, with the most coronavirus cases in Europe, is one of the 12 hosts for UEFA Euro 2020 and is planned to host three matches in group A and one quarter-final. Meanwhile, as coronavirus fears moment, all of the football fans are becoming uncertain about the execution of the tournament and wonder if it is better for UEFA to decide to cancel it. Many fans, not denying the importance of football, believe that people’s health should be a priority. Of course, there are still a few months until UEFA Euro 2020 begins and we all have to wait and see what will happen in the future. In an interview with Rai Radio 1 Sport, Michele Uva, an Italian member of the UEFA executive committee, said: “We are at the waiting stage. We are monitoring country by country, and football must follow the orders of the individual countries. The sporting path will only be closed if the situation gets worse”.

What seemed to be a joyful party across Europe, now seems to have become a serious disadvantage. Professor Christopher Dye, an epidemiologist at the University of Oxford who has the experience of working with the IOC in response to the outbreak of Zika virus before the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, believes that “It is a disadvantage that the Euros are to be held on a number of different sites. The idea of controlling spread close to venues would essentially be an impossibility. The risk assessment that will be taken when we reach June is how widely spread the virus has become, how many contracted it, how many are getting seriously ill and how many infected in congregant settings like football stadiums. What is happening in Italy at the moment will be one factor that will be taken into account. But when it comes to April and May, what happened in Italy in February will look like the relatively distant past.”

On the whole, according to Daily Telegraph, a UEFA spokesperson has stated: “Euro 2020 will kick off on 12 June 2020 in Rome. UEFA is in touch with the relevant international and local authorities regarding the coronavirus and its’ development. For the moment there is no need to change anything in the planned timetable. The issue will be kept under constant scrutiny.”

Indeed, there is still a long way to UEFA Euro 2020. The football fans needs to be cautious about the new coronavirus disease, and meanwhile, tolerate the ambiguity regarding the summer tournament. Hopefully, the world will be better prepared to face the novel coronavirus in the months to come.

Is football able to bring the world together in Summer 2020? Or will coronavirus be successful in keeping humans apart? Please, share your thoughts with us in the comment section.


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