UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis joins football fans everywhere in hailing the resumption of UEFA's club competitions.
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After the unprecedented hiatus brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, football is steadily coming back to life. This edition of UEFA Direct reports on the imminent return of our elite competitions, assessing the obstacles that the European football community has had to overcome together to successfully rewrite UEFA’s competitions calendar – both for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.
UEFA’s return to play, with matches set to kick off in August, represents a milestone moment and the first chance to take stock of our journey to date through an extraordinary period.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s outbreak in the spring brought European football to a standstill, and there was understandable concern that UEFA would not be able to finish its 2019/20 club competition season. Other major competitions, such as UEFA EURO 2020 and Women’s EURO 2021, were postponed for a year. The outlook was uncertain, and the ramifications were difficult to predict.
As our president underlines in his interview on pages 6–7, despite these challenges, UEFA maintained a steadfast belief that better times would come. Now, following a great deal of hard work, cooperation and compromise behind the scenes, we are ready to deliver a match schedule in August and beyond that will bring the latest club competitions to completion, and set the 2020/21 competition campaign in motion. The moment when ‘live’ UEFA action returns to the spotlight will doubtless be one to savour, offering hope and joy to football lovers young and old.
Our sport has taken a back seat in recent times as the world has learned to live with the impact – personal, economic and otherwise – of COVID-19. Football has been missed during its absence – demonstrating clearly how much the game means to those who care about it and providing telling proof of football’s enduring status as part of the fabric of our society.
Consequently, UEFA strongly feels that by ‘returning to play’ – albeit in circumstances that will still require caution and great care for our matches to take place – we are contributing to raising the morale of millions of people. It also shows how UEFA is adapting to the current reality to continue delivering on its core mission: running competitions and protecting, promoting and developing European football.
I for one am sure to experience a multitude of emotions when the first referee’s whistle is blown in August – excitement, happiness, relief, anticipation. I am equally certain that those feelings will be shared and understood by anyone that holds the beautiful game close to their heart…