Coronavirus casts gloom over Euro 2020
Uefa keeps to planned timetable for 12-city championship, as coronavirus invades the continent
Today marks 100 days to go before Euro 2020 but, as preparations are fine-tuned for the first European Championship to be played across the continent, the coronavirus outbreak could pose a potentially serious threat to the tournament.
The decision to stage the second 24-team Euro in 12 different cities in 12 different nations, from as far apart as Baku to Dublin and Glasgow to Rome, was an ambitious move.
Uefa says all venues and transport links are ready, that demand for tickets is through the roof, and there are no obvious security worries.
Except for the coronavirus outbreak, with its unknown potential consequences, which could cast a shadow over the entire event.
On Monday, Uefa said decisions over whether to cancel matches, including the Euro 2020 play-offs, will be made by governments and health authorities and not the game's ruling organisations.
The coronavirus crisis was raised at an executive committee meeting of European football's governing body in Amsterdam on Monday, but Uefa is remaining calm over the possible repercussions for Euro 2020.
"Uefa is in touch with the relevant international and local authorities regarding the coronavirus and its development," it told AFP.
"For the moment, there is no need to change anything in the planned timetable. The issue will be kept under constant scrutiny."
Euro 2020's opening match is scheduled for June 12 in Rome, with Italy facing Turkey.
Yesterday, Uefa said it has set up a working group with the European Leagues association to handle any fixture congestion which may be caused by coronavirus postponements.
General secretary Theodore Theodoridis said at its congress that the body had been set up on Monday to "work on calendar issues".
During the congress, Fifa chief Gianni Infantino had said "it is important to work with authorities but not to panic", but Swiss FA president Dominique Blanc warned of serious consequences to the sport.
"Due to the coronavirus, we are in a situation that could shake, for a part of us, professional football to its foundations," he told the congress.
Most matches in Italy's Serie A were called off at the weekend with the country the hardest hit by the outbreak in Europe, with 52 deaths and more than 2,000 cases as of Monday.
Meanwhile, neighbouring Switzerland - with 24 confirmed cases - on Monday announced the postponement of all games in its top two divisions until the end of March. - AFP