UEFA postpones its flagship tournament until the summer of 2021 so that clubs can play, enter and pay salaries.
Soccer left behind its personalities and vanities to act as most governments hit by the pandemic do. First, health; then the economy. Gathered together by UEFA electronically and often at odds with each other due to their interests, such as leagues, national federations and the player unions grouped in Fifpro, they all agreed to seek a way out together, with assignments, based on the sacrifice offered by Aleksander Ceferin .
The president of the highest body offered his jewel, the Eurocup, to give hope in the form of time to the national leagues and, of course, to his own tournaments already underway, Champions and Europa League. The way in which they are re-signed and ended will depend on the evolution of the pandemic. In an optimistic scenario, the Istanbul final would be played a month later, on June 27, but it is only a hypothesis.
The health of everyone, footballers and fans, is, of course, the organism’s priority, as Ceferin insisted. Secondly, the measure is the most appropriate for the sustainability of a very expensive football and dependent on television rights, not subject to insurance against circumstances such as this pandemic. “Not finishing the competitions would lead to ‘crack’ many teams”, says Christian Seifert , president of the German league.
2,500 MILLION IN LOSSES
Only the audiovisual rights of the five major continental tournaments (Premier, League, Series A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1) add up to 9.5 billion euros, according to the latest assessment by the KPMG consultancy. If they could not continue the domestic tournaments, the global loss would exceed 2,500 million only in rights, to which we would have to add the ones that would derive from the marketing and the subscriptions and ticket offices. Bankruptcy would be a real threat to some clubs. The great ones, in addition, would lose the income derived from the European tournaments.
The situation could also be a threat to the salaries of many soccer players. “We see that in Spain there are already companies that are doing their ERTE, but if we can continue with our competitions, we may not have to go through it,” says David Aganzo , president of the AFE. “However, now what concerns us most is health, and that is why we insist that the League be stopped. Suspending the Eurocup was common sense ”, continues the leader of the Spanish players union.
The location of the Champions League final on June 27 and the Europa League three days before, on the 24th, is indicative and would start from a scenario in which the competitions could be held again, even if it was behind closed doors, at the beginning of may. If this were not possible, they should be lengthened, which would pose a labor problem, since there are player contracts that end on June 30. For Aganzo, “it would not be a problem, we would find a way to lengthen them until necessary.”
Self Luis Rubiales , who as vice president of UEFA was in contact with Ceferin electronically, was clear: “No one can say that the competitions will end before 30 June.” The Federation president admitted that at the UEFA meeting there was talk of “health, economy and competitions.”
Now it is up to all groups to agree to find the dates and formulas, always depending on the evolution of the pandemic and the indications of the health authorities. The own League directed by Javier Tebas celebrated the decision and highlighted the “unity” of all groups. UEFA will set up committees for this purpose. Aganzo warns that “when they can play again, they will have to give the players a period to adapt, because now they only work at home.”
UEFA, for the moment, gave the dates on which the postponed Euro Cup will be held, from June 11 to July 11, 2021. It is confident that the 12 countries involved accept. The Copa América moved to the same period, which from this edition is accompanied to the European tournament to standardize the work of footballers and clubs. Ceferin had the support of Gianni Infantino , when FIFA postponed the new Club World Cup to be held in 2021, in China. “It will be in 2022 or 23, it will be seen,” said the Swiss leader.
While soccer took the first step by postponing one of its major tournaments, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) transferred to the international federations that the roadmap of the Tokyo Games remains, although with concern for athletes, mainly Spanish , Italians and French, who cannot train. They need solutions.