Euro 2020

The European Championship represents a showcase for the best international teams in Europe. It comes around every four years with 24 sides doing battle over the course of a month. The 2020 European Football Championship or Euro 2020 will be the 16th edition of the European national team tournament. After being postponed for a year (but with the tournament name unchanged), Euro 2020 is tentatively poised to take place this summer despite the Covid-19 pandemic still raging across Europe. It will take place from June 11th to July 11th, 2021 and UEFA is the organizer. Learn everything about Euro 2020 and find out the latest new regarding the Covid-19 pandemic in this article.

European National Team Tournament

For the first time, 12 cities across the continent have been selected as hosts for the final phase of the European Championship. It is according to the decision adopted in January 2013 by the UEFA Executive Committee to celebrate the 60th anniversary. Thus, the 12 cities and stadiums are:

  • Amsterdam (Netherlands) – Johan Cruyff Arena
  • Baku (Azerbaijan) – Olympic Stadium
  • Bilbao (Spain) – San Mames
  • Bucharest (Romania) – Arena Nationala
  • Budapest (Hungary) – Puskas Arena
  • Copenhagen (Denmark) – Parken Stadium
  • Dublin (Republic of Ireland) – Aviva Stadium
  • Glasgow (Scotland) – Hampden Park
  • London (England) – Wembley Stadium
  • Munich (Germany) – Allianz Arena
  • Rome (Italy) – Stadio Olimpico
  • Saint Petersburg (Russia) – Krestovsky Stadium

Rome’s Stadio Olimpico will host the opening match on June 11th, while England’s national stadium Wembley will stage both semi-finals and the final.

Euro 2020
UEFA Euro 2020

Euro 2020 Classification

The 2020 Eurocup qualification began in March 2019 and culminated in November of the same year. As a result of the pan-European staging, no nation has been granted an automatic spot. So, all 55 teams took part in the qualification process. The Kosovo team made its debut in European competitions, after UEFA admitted the Kosovo Football Federation as a full member in May 2016. The qualifying tournament consisted of a group stage in which the 55 participants were distributed in 10 groups. Five of them had 6 teams and the other 5 had 5 teams. 

The Euro 2020 group-stage schedule

Each stadium will host three group-stage matches, which will take place between June 11th and June 23rd. The host cities have been paired off for the group stages. So, the groups are as follows:

  • A: Rome and Baku
  • B: Saint Petersburg and Copenhagen
  • C: Amsterdam and Bucharest
  • D: London and Glasgow
  • E: Bilbao and Dublin
  • F: Munich and Budapest

Every host nation that qualifies will play a minimum of two games at home in the group stages. Should both paired nations qualify (eg. if England and Scotland both qualify) they will be put into Group D. After that, a draw will take place to determine which nation will host their direct group-stage encounter.

The winners and runners-up of each group will reach the knockout stages, as well as the four best third-placed teams.

Wembley Stadium
Wembley Stadium

Criteria for Home Matches

The following criteria apply to define the home matches of the host teams within the same group:

– If both host teams qualify directly or both advance to the play-offs, a draw will determine which team will play all 3 games of the group stage at home (i.e. which will host the face-to-face match) and which will play only 2 home games.

– If one host team qualifies directly, and the other advances to the play-offs, the directly classified host team will play all 3 games of the group stage at home, and the other host will play only 2.

– If one host team advances to the play-offs, and the other is eliminated completely, the host team in the play-offs will play all three games of the group stage at home.

– However, no action will be necessary if both host teams do not qualify.

If a host team does not qualify in the playoffs , the winner of the route will take the place of the host in the match schedule. Therefore, it will play 2 or 3 matches according to the above criteria in the host city if the respective host could not classify. 

The Euro 2020 group draw

The final groups are as follows:

A: Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Wales

B: Belgium, Russia, Denmark, Finland

C: Ukraine, Netherlands, Austria, North Macedonia

D: England, Croatia, Czech Republic, Scotland

E: Spain, Poland, Sweden, Slovakia

F: Germany, France, Portugal, Hungary

The knockout schedule

Each city will host one last 16 or quarter-final match, before London takes centre stage for the semi-finals and final. There is no third-place play-off. The knockouts will run from June 26 to July 11.

Round of 16
26.06.2021: 1A v 2C, London – 2A v 2B, Amsterdam
27.06.2021: 1B v 3A/D/E/F, Bilbao – 1C v 3D/E/F, Budapest
28.06.2021: 2D v 2E, Copenhagen – 1F v 3A/B/C, Bucharest
29.06.2021: 1E v 3A/B/C/D, Glasgow – 1D v 2F, Dublin

July 2: Saint Petersburg and Munich
July 3: Baku and Rome

July 6 and 7: London

July 11: London

Will Euro 2020 still happen?

Europe is still struggling to contain Covid-19 and the infection rates across the continent are still high nearly a year into the pandemic. Hence, it is hard to imagine that the European Championships will take place in their originally planned iteration this summer. Moreover, what makes things more difficult is that Euro 2020 was planned as a one-off multi-nation event. The intent was to celebrate its 60th anniversary, with multiple European countries hosting the finals instead of just one. However, the ongoing threat of Covid-19 and the requirement of multiple travel routes between countries for players, staff, fans and media would no doubt exacerbate the infection rate of the virus.

With death rates and infection rates still at an alarmingly high number, it is likely that stadiums will not be filled to capacity with supporters this summer.

Covid-19 vaccines
Covid-19 vaccines

Will the vaccines change anything?

The introduction and rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines, however, might hint at not all games being played behind closed doors. Yet, that will still require a large majority of fans to have already been vaccinated before they travel for the tournament.

With healthcare workers, senior citizens and essential workers at the top of the vaccination list and the rest of the population not due to be eligible for a vaccine until months later, herd immunity would be hard to achieve by summer.

Julian Knight, the chair of the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, had outlined his doubt that Euro 2020 would be executed in its pure original form. He stated “I am beginning to wonder whether the likes of the summer’s rescheduled Euro tournament will be open to go ahead as planned across 12 countries.”

Other possibilities for organizing the Championship

Scrapping the entire tournament or delaying it once again would be too financially disastrous. So UEFA will most likely have to restructure their plans for the finals this summer.

A possibility, but one that is still highly unlikely say UEFA sources, according to ESPN, is that the tournament be played behind closed doors in just one country.

Moreover, they state that strictly-enforced bubbles would be implemented for each competing team in one country. And it will be similar to how the Champions League and Europa League took place last season in just one country – Portugal and Germany, respectively.

UEFA stated in December that they remain committed to their multi-city format, though should the Covid-19 infection rate not improve by spring, they would need to look at other avenues in line with public health standards.

“UEFA intends to hold Euro 2020 in the format and the venues confirmed earlier last year and we are working closely with all host cities on preparations,” the governing body said in a statement in December. They also stated that they will give more details about how each host nation will carry out their plans for this summer at the start of March.

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The European Championship is one of the most important sport events in the word. However, this Euro 2020 is going to be different from all its previous editions and we must accept it. The most important thing is for it to happen, and the format is less important. The majority of fans will be happy to enjoy the game from the comfort of their homes or from the summer terrace of a cafe.