A historic continental championship that the Corona pandemic turned into an “exceptional” version


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                The 2021 European Football Championship kicks off Friday evening with a promising match between Turkey and Italy in Rome.  The “2020” version was historic when the former president of the European Union (Wifa), French Michel Platini, proposed the idea of ​​distributing its matches to 13 different European cities for the first time in the history of the competition.  But it turned, in its unique form, into an “exceptional” version due to the emergence of the Corona pandemic at the end of 2019 in China and its ravaging of the world within weeks, causing the “euro” to be postponed to 2021 in a precedent that will remain immortal in memory.

                                    <p>The idea of ​​a "new formula" for the championship was launched <a target="_blank" href="https://www.france24.com/ar/20200317-تأجيل-نهائيات-كأس-أوروبا-لهذا-العام-حتى-2021-بسبب-فيروس-كورونا" rel="noopener"><strong>European Football Championship</strong></a>  In 2012!  Specifically, in early July of that year, when he scored <a target="_blank" href="https://www.france24.com/ar/20120701-football-spain-europe-champion-third-time-italy" rel="noopener"><strong>Spain national team</strong></a>  His second consecutive title in the competition after 2008, following a distinguished football tone that ended with a landslide victory over Italy 4-0 in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.  This was the third international title in four years for the "Roja" team, led by the stars of Barcelona and Real Madrid, with the title of the 2010 World Cup champion in South Africa.

At that time, the President of the European Football Association (UEFA) Michel Platini An idea that aroused the interest and support of many in the old continent as much as it generated questions and anger from others, led by the Secretary-General of the International Federation (FIFA) at the time, French Jerome Valcke, who was close to his president, Joseph Blatter (both of them are among the fiercest opponents of Platini). This revolutionary idea is to distribute the 2020 Nations Cup matches to 12 different European cities, which will eventually be: London (England), Rome (Italy), Baku (Azerbaijan), Munich (Germany), Saint Petersburg (Russia), Seville (Spain). ), Budapest (Hungary), Bucharest (Romania), Copenhagen (Denmark), Glasgow (Scotland), and Amsterdam (Netherlands).

Sports criticism on political backgrounds

The purpose behind the idea presented by Platini, The captain of the French national team in the eighties of the last century and a lover of beautiful and fair play, his keenness to provide the largest number of European countries with the opportunity to host the prestigious Nations Cup and their fans to watch the matches in their countries. The stated goal was to bring this prominent popular sport closer to European fans on a large scale, especially since the 2020 edition marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the tournament – the then-Soviet Union won the 1960 Cup over the former Yugoslavia 2-1 in a match held in Paris on July 10 .

But the criticisms leveled at the “Platini formula”, which was not without political conflicts in the context of the intense competition between UEFA and FIFA, or against the backdrop of The raging battle between Platini and Blatter About the presidency of the world body, it won the confidence of the Executive Committee of the European Commission at the end of 2012. The criticisms related, for example, to the vast distances between some cities (Seville and St. Petersburg, human rights in some countries (Azerbaijan), or the environment with the impact of the increasing flights due to the spread of Matches over different cities and states span on global warming.

The fierce battle between Platini and Blatter resulted in the loss of both contenders, to start another battle for them in the judiciary, which accuses them of corruption. The French left the chair of the UEFA presidency, to be replaced by the Slovenian Alexander Ceferin In September 2016, while the Swiss left his position to be succeeded by his compatriot (Swiss-Italian) Gianni Infantino On February 26, 2016.

The Olympic Stadium in Rome adds the opening match between Turkey and Italy

                    The Olympic Stadium in Rome adds the opening match between Turkey and Italy 
<strong>The pandemic came and the competition missed...</strong>

Platini’s fall did not prevent his idea from moving forward and achieving the dream of the former Juventus player, until the Corona virus appeared at the end of 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan and spread very quickly throughout the world. And she was Italy is the first European country to be affected by the epidemic Strongly, in the second half of February 2020.

Consequently, the disease spread on the European continent at lightning speed, which quickly led to the imposition of strict health and administrative restrictions, devoid of cities, countries closing their borders, and local or global organizations and bodies announcing Postponing and then canceling the majority of sporting and cultural events, economic or political. The world stopped activity because of… an unknown virus!

The inevitable result is that Euro 2020 has turned into a heavy burden in its organizational aspect. The European Football Association entered a stage of thinking and is looking at ways to save the most prestigious continental competition in the world, but how can a competition be organized in 13 European cities amid the outbreak of the pandemic? And how can international matches be held amid the continuing expansion of the virus and the inability of the international scientific community to find emergency solutions?

It seemed clear that the European Nations Cup 2020 will not be held on schedule, will it take place in its new format? Faced with these questions, Wifa announced its decision on March 17, 2020, three months before the scheduled start of the tournament: to postpone the competition for one year, while retaining its official format and name “European Cup 2020” distributed among the various cities and countries of the continent. This is a moral victory for Michel Platini.

The audience will be there

In light of the development of vaccines across the world and the improvement of campaigns to confront the Corona virus in developed countries, Europe gradually breathed a sigh of relief, despite the huge human toll as a result of the pandemic (so far, 3,764,250 people have died in the world since the World Health Organization office in China reported the emergence of the disease at the end of January December 2019). Sports competitions are becoming more and more popular In limited numbers, but they can rise in the coming days. For example, 14,000 people will attend Germany’s match against France next Tuesday in Munich in Group F competitions.

The presence of the public was a non-negotiable condition for UEFA, as it did not hesitate to exclude cities such as Dublin and Bilbao from hosting the matches due to the strictness of their health procedures. In the face of the fact, the Italian Football Federation was quick to confirm the attendance of fans (25 or 30 percent of the stadium capacity) during the opening match between “Squadra Azzura” and Turkey, which will take place on Friday evening at the Olympic Stadium in Rome.

The whistle of Dutch referee Danny McKelley, which will announce the start of the European Nations Cup 2021, will be the end of a sporting adventure with dramatic chapters that lasted nine years, an experience that will not be repeated in the next edition, which It will be held in 2024 in one country, Germany.

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