As most football fans will probably know, the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship, to give it its full name, has been postponed. The Euros, to use their much shorter name, were one of hundreds of sporting events affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Along with the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to take place from the 24th July to the 9th August 2020, the Euros were probably the biggest sporting showpiece to be either postponed or cancelled as a result of the pandemic.
Euro 2020, to use another of this football tournament’s common monikers, was originally due to begin on the 12th June, with the final set to take place on the 12th July. Due to the pandemic and the massive health and social concerns that revolved around it the decision was taken in mid-March to delay the competition by a year to the 11th June 2021 (with the final scheduled for the 11th July).
Given the Euros are commonly referred to using the year – Euro ’96, for example – this has created a problem with no easy solution. Is the championship still to be called Euro 2020, even though it will take place in 2021? Do we now refer to it as Euro 2021? Or are we to call it something else entirely?
Can Euro 2020 be Held in 2021?
Now disgraced former UEFA chief Michel Platini envisioned Euro 2020 as a unique football tournament that would be played nomadically around the continent as a romantic tribute to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Euros.
The first tournament, then called the European Nations’ Cup, was played in France in 1960 and just four teams took part, the Soviet Union seeing off the hosts, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. (Interestingly, or perhaps not, France is the only extant country of those four.) But returning to the current situation, Frenchman Platini’s plans for a continental celebration of football have been somewhat derailed.
The first ever travelling tournament will now take place 61 years after the inaugural competition but the bigger issue than trying to squeeze a 61st candle onto the continental cake is what to call the whole jamboree. All the branding, merchandise, ticketing, publicity and quite probably brand protection and trademarks too are based on “Euro 2020”. All the qualification process and prior to that the bidding process to host the tournament in the first place has been based on 2020. And yet the event will now (barring any further pandemics or global crises!) take place in 2021.
What Have UEFA Said?
In the modern world of mass communication and social media, ideas and concepts can very much take on a life of their own. Who would have thought a 99 (or should we call him 100?) year old man could raise £33m (at the time of writing)? Wow, that’s almost enough to sign Andy Carroll!
Our point is that what UEFA settle on may not count for much if fans decide the tournament will be known as “Euro 2020”, “Euro 2021”, “the delayed 2020 Euros”, “the 2020 Euros in 2021”, “the Corona Cup” or anything else. Of course, in reality the public and media will probably be led by the organising body, UEFA, but we wouldn’t be at all surprised if what UEFA officially decide on is not universally adopted. Of course, technically, as said, the event is the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship but how often does anyone call it that?
Twitter Mystery: Euro 2020 or Not?
Before football fans can follow, however, UEFA probably need to make up their mind. On the 17th March 2020 the sad but necessary decision to postpone the Euros was taken. The motivations for that decision were and remain unclear, with many feeling it had more to do with creating space for domestic football leagues to finish their seasons than genuine thoughts about the championship itself.
That issue aside, once the decision to move the competition to 2021 was made, it threw up the obvious question as to what the tournament would be called. On the 20th March UEFA quite rapidly decided that Euro 2020 would stick and this was widely reported at the time.
As is the modern way this information was released in a Tweet – now deleted – that said
“CONFIRMED: Although it will provisionally take place from 11 June – 11 July 2021, #UEFAEURO2020 will still be known as UEFA EURO 2020.”
Almost as soon as that missive was released, along came another; although not quite so quick as to be able to stop many sources picking up on the original Tweet. The seemingly confirmed news was promptly deleted and replaced by a new Tweet that stated:
With apologies for the earlier error, to be clear no decision has yet been made on the name of the rearranged EURO to be held in 2021. The earlier tweet was sent by mistake.
So the new news was that there was still no news but that there remained a possibility of news in the future. Keeping up? UEFA may have issues with fraud, corruption and their integrity but there can be no doubting their communication skills are in perfect shape and everyone knew exactly where they stood and what the Euros would be called.
Euro 2020 It Is!
On the 23rd April UEFA announced that the championship would keep its original name and that, yes indeed, Euro 2020 would kick off on the 11th June 2021. Seemingly they meant it this time too.
Following UEFA’s Executive Committee videoconference meeting (which primarily focussed on trying to resolve the completion of domestic seasons around Europe and eligibility for the UCL and Europa League), UEFA released the following information:
“…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) (and) serve to remember how the whole football family came together to respond to the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic …
This choice is in line with UEFA’s commitment to make UEFA EURO 2020 sustainable… A lot of branded material had already been produced by the time of the tournament’s postponement. A change … would have meant the destruction and reproduction of such items.”
So, in short, on the 23rd April 2020, UEFA said they would stick with Euro 2020 because:
- That way they would still be celebrating the 60-year anniversary (a year late)
- It would really trump Clap For Carers whereas Euro 2021 would be like a slap in the face
- They were very keen to save the environment at their Euros tournament that was being held using 12 different countries
Perhaps you’ve picked up on the slightest degree of cynicism. It certainly doesn’t take an ardent doubter to question whether there might be a difference between UEFA’s stated motivations and their real ones. In much the same way that there are those who believe the Premier League’s latest plan to complete the season using dolphins and crabs in a bio-secure bubble under the sea could be in order to avoid repaying an estimated £1.2bn in TV money and sponsorship deals, rather than due to concerns with player safety, societal benefit and the integrity of the league, there are also those who feel money may be the prime factor for UEFA.
Clearly switching the name of the tournament to Euro 2021 would be costly on many fronts, as well as possibly presenting various legal issues. Yes, it would be more damaging to the environment and sticking to Euro 2020 would certainly save resources. However, this situation is a little like the twee signs in hotels about not changing towels every day. Does anyone really believe that is down to a passionate commitment to environmental concerns, as opposed to an attempt to save money?
We have little doubt that a more accurate list of UEFA’s concerns would read thus:
- Avoid legal disputes over trademarked terms and protect their brand
- Avoid additional costs for rebranding, creating new merchandise, issuing new tickets and so on
- Some other stuff that sounds better in public
So, that’s that, Euro 2020 it is, see you there… in 2021! Whatever you think of the reasoning, the decision has been made and we now know for sure (unless something changes!).