Opinion

After Euros are postponed, Copa America will surely follow

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Australia coach Graham Arnold will be keeping an eye on Switzerland on Tuesday when UEFA has its emergency meeting with leagues and clubs in an attempt to work out what to do with the European season.

That campaign has ground to a halt. Should the European championships be postponed, it will certainly put pressure on the organisers of Copa America to do the same. 

And it looks as if Euro 2020 will be put back. Rome is hosting the opening game on June 12 but Italy is not in a position to be even thinking about that at the moment. 

“The postponement of the European Championship is the idea to follow,” said Gabriele Gravina, president of the Italian football federation on Monday. “Tomorrow we will ask for an act of responsibility from UEFA and all the federations, to follow a path that seeks to protect the health of the athletes and fans across the world.” 

Moving the tournament is the only way to free up some much-needed breathing space for the various football leagues that have stopped playing due to the coronavirus outbreak. It is the only weapon that football currently has. If UEFA does nothing then the chances of this current European seasons ever finishing reduce considerably. 

English football is postponed until April 3 but nobody expects the action to restart then. It is just a place-holder, a decision that buys time and, hopefully, a little more information, with which to make a more informed decision. 

The way things are, it is hard to imagine any football being played before the summer. If it is to be a choice between trying to finish the 2019-20 season and moving the tournament then it is not much of a choice at all. 

Indeed, the final qualifiers for the tournament, which has 16 teams fighting four places on March 26 and 31, are not going to go ahead. 

It is highly desirable that the current season finishes, if at all possible. The European Leagues body represents the national competitions, will be on the emergency call and issued a statement on Friday saying "it is most essential that domestic competitions can be completed this season, to limit the negative impact for the entire football ecosystem. 

Assuming that the call to delay the European championships is made then attention will move to South America. 

Ironically, Copa America 2020 is scheduled for exactly the same dates as its UEFA counterpart: June 12 to July 12 though there will be just 12 teams instead of 24. 

It is clear why Australia wanted in. It is a fantastic opportunity for the Socceroos to get some competitive action against some strong opposition in a tournament situation that has nothing to do with Asia. This only happens at the World Cup. Games against Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile would be warmly welcomed by Arnold. How often do Australia have the chance to play against South American teams in South America?

As things stand, the tournament is going ahead as FFA CEO James Johnson said last Friday: "We have to wait and see what the world will look like come the middle of this calendar year. We are in touch with CONMEBOL and FIFA on a daily basis on this matter but there's no update at this point. At this stage it's still going ahead."

It’s hard to imagine that it will do so. The situation in South America may not be as serious as Europe at the moment but that could well change in the coming days and weeks. Should the European Championships be postponed then it will surely be a matter of time before the same decision is taken with the Copa America and the tournament kicks off in  2021.

Source SBS The World Game