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UEFA has announced that Euro 2020 will be postponed to the summer of 2021. The decision was taken unanimously after consultation with the 55 member associations, including the KNVB. Naturally, this will test the patience of the Netherlands national team and all its fans. Here are the first reactions of those directly involved within the KNVB:
The first priority must be protecting people’s health
Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman: "This is, of course, a rather unpleasant message but we understand the choice that has been made. In light of recent developments, the decision does not come as a surprise to us. The first priority must be protecting people’s health and containing the coronavirus outbreak. Of course, I would have preferred to have the European Championship this summer, but we need to be realistic and accept the decision. In the coming period, we will start thinking about how we can prepare for the moment when the international football competitions are restarted".
KNVB Secretary-General Gijs de Jong is the tournament director in the Nethelands, responsible for the four Euro 2020 matches scheduled in Amsterdam. The municipality of Amsterdam, the Johan Cruijff ArenA, Schiphol Airport and the KNVB have joined forces in a special project group, which has been preparing for the tournament for almost two years. Gijs de Jong: "Throughout Europe many people have worked hard on Euro 2020. We very much regret that we have to move the European Championship due to an impressive case of force majeure. But there's no other option. As soon as the public health situation in Europe returns to normal, we'll pick up where we left off and carry on'.
Sport is at its best when all participants are at their strongest
KNVB Director of Professional Football Eric Gudde: "It’s a perfectly logical decision. Everyone in this country is aware that matches in all competitions have been called off until at least April 6 and that collective training sessions are impossible. In some European countries, some top players are under quarantine or have been infected with the virus. Sport is at its best when all participants are at their strongest from the start and when national teams are able to prepare together for key events. That’s what enthusiasts like us are looking forward to, but in many cases that's already out of the question twelve weeks ahead of the planned start of Euro 2020.”
Consequences for competitions
It’s not yet clear what the consequences of the delay of Euro 2020 will be for the professional football competitions in the Netherlands. Eric Gudde: "The new Euro 2020 start date is one of the pieces of the puzzle when we draw up the new fixture schedule. In collaboration with the cooperative bodies of Eredivisie clubs (ECV) and Keuken Kampioen Divisie clubs (CED), we are working on new scenarios, which will be affected by external developments."
"After the discussions this afternoon, it is now also clear that all domestic competitions in Europe should be completed by June 30th. We hope to be able to report more about the different possible scenarios soon. However, it has already been decided that we are looking for a new date for the Dutch Cup final. The current scheduled date (19 April) is too early, given the advice not to train collectively until 6 April in addition to the period needed to get the squads back to competition fitness."
"Euro 2020 is the next big final tournament, but the current coronavirus crisis will have consequences for more matches in the longer term. For example, new dates are being sought for the Women’s Euro 2021 qualifiers and finals. The same goes for the youth tournaments and matches."