The UEFA Executive Committee met on Thursday via videoconference. It received updates on the Working Groups established in partnership with the European Club Association (ECA), European Leagues (EL) and FIFPRO Europe. Of the two scenarios being examined by the Calendar Working Group, both envisage domestic football starting before UEFA club competitions, with one seeking to run the competitions in parallel and the other to complete domestic matches before re-starting UEFA matches in August.
The Committee heard of the work of the newly-established Medical sub group, chaired by Professor Tim Meyer, examining the health issues surrounding a return to football, which is working alongside the ECA and EL to link the work already being done by leagues and clubs to produce a set of guidelines which will align with the best health protocols available. The Committee valued the unity shown across European football and the emphasis being placed on prioritising health in trying to establish a path to football’s return.
As a result of representations made by the football authorities in Belgium and Scotland, the Committee recognises the issues raised and approved the Guidelines on eligibility principles for 2020/21 UEFA club competitions. The Guidelines reflect the principle that admission to UEFA club competitions is always based on sporting merit.
Therefore, UEFA urges National Associations and Leagues to explore all possible options to play all top domestic competitions giving access to UEFA club competitions to their natural conclusion. However, UEFA stresses that the health of players, spectators and all those involved in football as well as the public at large must remain the primary concern at this time.
The ideal scenario, should the pandemic situation permit it, is to have the currently suspended domestic competitions completed enabling football clubs to qualify for UEFA club competitions on sporting merit in their original format. Should this outcome not be possible, in particular due to calendar issues, it would be preferable that suspended domestic competitions would restart with a different format in a manner which would still facilitate clubs to qualify on sporting merit.
While using best efforts to complete the domestic competitions, National Associations and/or Leagues might have legitimate reasons to prematurely terminate their domestic competitions, in particular in the following cases:
• existence of an official order prohibiting sports events so that the domestic competitions cannot be completed before a date that would make it possible to complete the current season in good time before the next season to start.
• insurmountable economic problems which make finishing the season impossible because it would put at risk the long-term financial stability of the domestic competition and/or clubs.
If a domestic competition is prematurely terminated for legitimate reasons in accordance with the above conditions, UEFA would require the National Association concerned to select clubs for the UEFA club competitions 2020/21 based on sporting merit in the 2019/20 domestic competitions:
• the procedure for selecting clubs should be based on objective, transparent and non-discriminatory principles. National Associations and Leagues, should otherwise have the ability to decide the final positions in their domestic competitions, having regard to the specific circumstances of each competition;
• the final determination of eligible places for the UEFA club competitions should be confirmed by the relevant competent bodies at domestic level.
UEFA reserves the right to refuse or evaluate the admission to any club proposed by a National Association from a prematurely terminated domestic competition in particular where:
• the domestic competitions have not been prematurely terminated based on the reasons given in these UEFA guidelines or on the basis of any other legitimate public health reasons;
• the clubs were selected pursuant to a procedure which was not objective, transparent and non-discriminatory so that the selected clubs could not be considered as having been qualified on sporting merit;
• there is a public perception of unfairness in the qualification of the club.
UEFA EURO 2020
Following the postponement of UEFA EURO 2020 to the summer of 2021 and after a thorough internal review as well as several discussions with partners, the Executive Committee has decided that the tournament will still be known as UEFA EURO 2020.
This decision allows UEFA to keep the original vision of the tournament to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the European Football Championships (1960 – 2020).
It will furthermore serve to remember how the whole football family came together to respond to the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficult times Europe, and the world, had to go through in 2020.
This choice is in line with UEFA’s commitment to make UEFA EURO 2020 sustainable and not to generate additional amounts of waste. A lot of branded material had already been produced by the time of the tournament’s postponement. A change to the name of the event would have meant the destruction and reproduction of such items.
UEFA European Under 21 Championship
The Committee heard that options for rearrangement or postponement of the tournament will be presented and analysed by the National Team Competitions Committee on 11 May, with a final decision being taken at the Executive Committee on 27 May 2020.
UEFA Women’s EURO
Meanwhile the UEFA Executive Committee has confirmed that the postponed UEFA Women’s EURO 2021 will be played in England from 6 to 31 July 2022. It is planned to use the same venues that were originally proposed to host the event.
The decision to move UEFA Women’s EURO came after UEFA announced on 17 March that UEFA EURO 2020 would be postponed to 2021 following the global outbreak of COVID-19 and the duty of UEFA to protect the health of all those involved in the game, while allowing domestic leagues and European competitions to be completed. The extensive discussions leading to the move included talks with organisers of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, with whom UEFA and the English Football Association (FA) continue to work with collaboratively to ensure that 2022 provides a memorable summer of elite sport.