Two of this summer’s largest international soccer competitions, Euro 2020 and the Copa America, were pushed back until the summer of 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak, per multiple reports.
Both tournaments serve as continental championships, the Euros obviously for Europe and the Copa America for South America.
They are viewed as appetizers for the FIFA World Cup as both tournaments were set to take place in between the World Cup Finals, which take place every four years.
Euro 2020, which is played across 12 European cities rather than one host country, was set to open on June 12 in Rome, Italy — which was the country most affected by the coronavirus outside of China. The Final was set to be held at Wembley Stadium in London, England.
The organizers of the competition, UEFA, held a conference call with its 55 member associations, the board of the European Club Association, and the board of the European Leagues before coming to a decision.
The World Health Organization has revealed that Europe is now the epicenter of the pandemic rather than China.
In South America, Colombia and Argentina were set to host the Copa America. As of Monday, Argentina had 65 confirmed cases of coronavirus while Colombia had 57.
While the area hasn’t been affected as much as Europe, many of South America’s top players star in Europe’s top-flight leagues.
The decision allows more time for Europe’s top domestic leagues to finish their seasons after they halted amidst coronavirus concerns.
A majority of the leagues — ranging from Italian Serie A to England’s Premier League — usually wrap up in early May, allowing star players to return to their home countries and prepare for the summer’s international competitions.
Both competitions this year would have run from June 12-July 12 where 18 of the top 20 teams in the FIFA World Rankings would have been put on display.
With that comes the marquee names of the soccer world taking center stage. In South America, Argentina’s Lionel Messi was looking to win his first major international trophy with his country while in Europe, Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal looked to defend their continental championship won in 2016.