Opinion: Scrap Euro 2020 multi-host format after coronavirus postponement | Sports | German football and major international sports news | DW | 17.03.2020

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Opinion: Scrap Euro 2020 multi-host format after coronavirus postponement

UEFA only had one choice when postponing the Euro 2020 until next year. But given the rapid spread of coronavirus, it would also be common sense to backtrack on the plan for multiple countries to host the tournament.

In December of 2012, Michel Platini announced the baffling decision to organize a multi-country Euro 2020. The then UEFA president knew it was nuts, even using the word "zany” when first floating the idea.

Instead of handing exclusive rights to willing bidders Turkey, the disgraced former president declared that 12 cities across Europe would host the tournament. It was an obvious attempt to appease as many stakeholders as possible.

But Platini's "legacy” should now be scrapped.

Combined with the outrageous carbon footprint the tournament will emit, the rapid arrival and spread of coronavirus throughout Europe and the world means it would be irresponsible for UEFA to continue with its current plans.

These are uncertain times and sending hundreds of thousands of people around Europe for a four-week football tournament feels negligent.

The current climate, and the tournament's postponement, at least gives new UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin a legitimate chance to campaign for a backflip.

Deutsche Welle Janek Speight Portrait

DW's Janek Speight

Environmental consequences

When Ceferin came to power in 2016 he was already burdened with Platini's plans. But the Slovenian moved to quash any chances of a multi-host tournament repeating in the future.

It's clear that he's not a fan of the idea, but his hands were already tied.

The tournament will feature 51 matches across 12 cities. The distance between Dublin in the west and Baku in the east is an incredible 4,400 kilometers.

The carbon costs of transporting not only national teams and UEFA officials but also hundreds of thousands of fans will be astronomical.

To take one example: Swiss fans will travel more than 9,760km kilometers (as the crow flies) from Geneva to Baku in Azerbaijan, over to Rome, and then back to Baku in order to play their three group games. Nevermind "zany" - it's simply insane.

UEFA has acknowledged the growing concern of climate change and football's impact. And in an attempt to offset the carbon cost, has pledged to plant 50,000 trees in each host country and invest in renewable energy projects in partnership with South Pole, a carbon finance consultancy.

They know the environmental impacts and even Ceferin has admitted the current plan will "pollute a lot”.

Taking a stand in the current crisis and committing to a more sustainable future would be befitting of an organization which holds a lot of influence among societies across the world. Not to mention an organization with deep pockets.

UEFA holds responsibility

The spread of the coronavirus will hopefully be under control by the time the rescheduled Euros come around, but that's still less than certain.

How the virus affects future travel between countries and major events is also impossible to determine.

It's time for the world to take stock and learn from this pandemic and UEFA can set one example to show that football is serious about tackling pressing problems in society.

There may be financial consequences and some associations will be furious to lose a chance to host part of a major international tournament. But if the coronavirus has taught us anything, it's that football, amongst many other things, must come second behind social responsibility.

Choosing a single host is the right direction to take and a chance to right Platini's wrongs. Hopefully UEFA is willing and able to act.

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