Players’ Union Questions EURO 2020/2021 12-Country Format

James Mason
February 25th 2021, 12:51 pm
Last Updated 3 years ago
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UEFA has faced an extraordinary amount of trouble trying to celebrate the EURO 2020/2021 tournament. Saying that 2020 threw a wrench in the plans of the organisation would be an understatement.

Now, the leader of the world football player union, FIFPro, has spoken out about the upcoming event. FIFPro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann questioned the wisdom of hosting an ambitious 12-country championship with most audiences confined at home.

Anniversary Edition

Hosting a high-profile tournament like EURO 2020/2021 is never an easy task. Nevertheless, the unique conditions that Europe and the world have been going through in these years were real game-changers. The tournament was postponed—a first in recent history.

Meanwhile, 2020 was slated to be an exceptional year for the UEFA Euro Finals. The event was intended to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the UEFA European Championship. To make the anniversary edition unforgettable, the games were scheduled to be hosted across 12 countries.

This would make the tournament truly European, bringing massive crowds from all over the EU. England, Germany, Italy, Russia, Azerbaijan, Hungary, Spain, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Romania and the Netherlands were chosen as host countries.

Each host country would prepare a single city for the games. Cities include London, Munich, Rome, St. Petersburg, Budapest, Baku, Bucharest, Amsterdam, Glasgow, Dublin, Copenhagen and Bilbao. However, all that planning may end up going to waste.

Statements From Baer-Hoffmann

Baer-Hoffmann spoke out about the situation, painting a rather bleak picture. In statements to SNTV, he said there would be “no point” in a 12-country tournament without fans. Stadiums remain closed In much of the EU due to safety restrictions.

The FIFPro general secretary said he believes it comes down to, “the benefit of a 12 venue tournament,” which, in his opinion, “is only really a benefit…if fans would be able to go.” He added that any scenario where fans are present is looking increasingly unlikely.

“Is it realistic to believe that we would have substantial attendance come June and July in stadia? If that’s not the case, then there’s really no point in trying,” said Baer-Hoffmann.

Furthermore, Baer-Hoffmann highlighted the importance of developing multiple scenarios, including the ones he described. He said that he’s “sure UEFA would” consider such matters.

UEFA Doubles Down

Despite the odds mounting against the event, UEFA is giving no signs of backing down from its commitment. UEFA president affirmed that commitment as recently as last week, in statements to SNTV.

Ceferin said unambiguously that UEFA “is committed to holding EURO 2020 in the 12 cities originally planned.” That said, the organization is calmly weighing its options and biding its time. UEFA extended the deadline for countries to come up with alternative plans from March to April.

Each country has been asked to formulate plans for various fan numbers, ranging from 100% full stadiums down to 0%. We may need to wait until April to know how realistic the events might be, according to local restrictions.

James Mason

James is a regular commentator / reporter on all leagues across Europe and also has a wealth of written experience covering top-level football.