Football’s Euro 2020 postponed to 2021

Euro 2020 was scheduled to start on June 12 hosted by 12 different countries. (AFP)
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Updated 18 March 2020

Football’s Euro 2020 postponed to 2021

  • The new tournament dates will be June 11 to July 11
  • Euro 2020 was scheduled to start on June 12 hosted by 12 different countries

LAUSANNE: UEFA has postponed the European Championship, due to take place across the continent in June and July this year, until 2021 after holding crisis meetings, European football’s governing body said on Tuesday.
The move comes with global sport having largely ground to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic which has led to lockdowns in several countries and border closures.
UEFA said the postponement would allow “priority” to be given to finishing domestic leagues that have been suspended due to the crisis.
“The move will help all domestic competitions, currently on hold due to the COVID-19 emergency, to be completed,” UEFA said in a statement.
It said playoffs to decide the remaining qualifiers for the European Championships “will now be played in the international window at the start of June, subject to a review of the situation.”

The new tournament dates will be June 11 to July 11, the Norwegian football association announced during a conference call that UEFA hosted with its 55 national member federations.
The UEFA executive committee was due to make a formal decision in a separate consultation immediately after the members’ session.
A busy day of back-to-back calls for UEFA began with a session based on club football’s challenges to complete the current season that is now on hold.
Euro 2020 was scheduled to start on June 12 hosted by 12 different countries from Ireland to Azerbaijan, and Russia to Italy. A one-year postponement became UEFA’s favored option last week. It would clear several weeks in the congested calendar to complete domestic league and cup competitions, plus the Champions League and Europa League.
Still, it is far from clear when the public health crisis could ease enough for European football to emerge from its near-total shutdown.
The freeze on games has put broadcasting deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars on hold and could lead to the 2019-20 season being annulled in some competitions.
UEFA’s first call was with leaders of the European Club Association and European Leagues groups, plus the FIFPro players’ union.
Completing domestic league seasons would allow titles to be awarded and decide entries for the next Champions League and Europa League. The first qualifying games are already scheduled for late June.
If resuming the season is possible, UEFA’s options to complete this season include playing the quarterfinals and semifinals as single games instead of over two legs where each team has a home match.
The Champions League final is scheduled for May 30 in Istanbul, but the Turkish city could also be asked host the semifinals in a mini-tournament at a later date.
Sixteen of UEFA’s members are involved in the Euro 2020 playoffs, which were scheduled to be played on March 26 and 31. They will decide the last four entries in the 24-nation final tournament.
Postponing Euro 2020 has also created a backlog of national team games in a packed calendar managed by FIFA.
The June 2021 was occupied by the UEFA Nations League final tournament of four teams, plus the start of FIFA’s inaugural 24-team Club World Cup. It is due to be hosted in China and feature eight European clubs but no broadcasting or sponsor deals have yet been announced.
FIFA has not commented on revising its Club World Cup plan.
Qualifying games for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are also scheduled for June 2021 in most European countries. There is currently no space in the calendar to reschedule all those games, and a reduced qualifying program will likely be considered.
However, any cuts in national team matches will impact member federations’ revenue and centralized broadcasting deals managed by UEFA.


Lin Dan retirement ends era of ‘Chinese sports superstar’

Updated 08 July 2020

Lin Dan retirement ends era of ‘Chinese sports superstar’

  • The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded

SHANGHAI: The retirement of two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan signals the end of a golden era of Chinese sporting superstars, state media said on Tuesday.

Arguably the greatest badminton player of all time, the 36-year-old said on Saturday that he was bringing the curtain down on a career that also brought five world titles.

NBA All-Star Yao Ming, Olympic gold-medal hurdler Liu Xiang and two-time tennis Grand Slam champion Li Na have all retired in the last decade.

“With the ‘Super Dan’ curtain call, people cannot help but sigh,” Xinhua news agency said.

“The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded.

“When will the next Lin Dan appear? Or when will the next Yao Ming, Liu Xiang and Li Na appear?

“Where is the next Chinese sports superstar who will create a collective memory for us?”

The quartet were not just world leaders in their sport and popular in China, but also had “considerable influence in the international arena and became a window for the world to understand China,” Xinhua said.

Of prominent Chinese athletes left, women’s volleyball player Zhu Ting has the potential to rise to superstar level, Xinhua said, while disgraced swimmer Sun Yang “enjoys high popularity (in China), but unfortunately he is banned.” 

The 28-year-old is appealing against an 8-year ban for refusing to give a doping sample. The three-time Olympic freestyle champion’s career will effectively be over if he loses his appeal at the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

China has world champions in other sports, and finished third behind the US and Britain in the medal table at the Rio 2016 Olympics, but they are not generally well-known even inside the country, Xinhua said.

Table tennis player Zhang Jike, another three-time Olympic gold medalist, deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Lin, said the Oriental Sports Daily.

But at 32 his best days are behind him and as far back as 2016 he signaled his intention to retire, before having a change of heart.

“When will the next Lin Dan and China’s next sports superstar appear again?” asked the newspaper.

“This question may not be answered in a short space of time.”