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UEFA in 2020 – Part 1: Facing extraordinary times

It's been a year like none before for UEFA and European football, which has had to confront the outbreak and widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across the continent.

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin addresses the Amsterdam Congress
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin addresses the Amsterdam Congress UEFA.com

In the first part of our review of events in 2020, from January to June, we look back at how UEFA faced up to this unprecedented crisis – and how the football community's unity and solidarity paved the way for the game's resumption in the summer.

JANUARY

The 2018/19 UEFA Foundation for Children's activity report explains how the foundation's efforts to use football to drive social good are improving the lives of more than one million children across some 100 countries.

UEFA.com Fans' 2019 Team of the Year
UEFA.com Fans' 2019 Team of the YearUEFA.com

After a month of voting during which more than two million votes were cast, seven players make their debut in the 2019 UEFA.com Fans' Team of the Year.

UEFA's latest annual club licensing benchmarking report on European club football for the 2018 financial year brings positive news – the second consecutive year of overall profitability for European top-division club football.

FEBRUARY

Playmakers encourages more young girls to love football
Playmakers encourages more young girls to love footballGetty Images

UEFA and Disney join forces to launch a ground-breaking football programme – Playmakers – using Disney's world-renowned storytelling to encourage more young girls to kickstart a lifelong love of football.

MARCH

At UEFA's 44th Ordinary Congress in Amsterdam, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin warns that the European football community must act to prevent the over-commercialisation of the game, by putting "purpose before profit".

UEFA EURO 2020 was postponed until summer 2021
UEFA EURO 2020 was postponed until summer 2021UEFA via Getty Images

The outbreak and rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus in recent weeks leads UEFA to postpone the UEFA EURO 2020 finals in June/July by 12 months. "It is at times like these that the football community needs to show responsibility, unity, solidarity and altruism," says UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin. "The health of fans, staff and players has to be our number one priority." The move is also crucial because it eventually enables 2019/20 domestic competitions across Europe to be completed when football returns in the summer.

With Europe's club competitions brought to a halt, UEFA also decides to postpone the May finals of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Women’s Champions League.

APRIL

The UEFA Women’s EURO will take place in 2022
The UEFA Women’s EURO will take place in 2022AFP/Getty Images

The COVID pandemic continues to have a dramatic impact on life across Europe and beyond, and with football at a standstill in its wake, UEFA postpones the 2021 UEFA Women's EURO in England to summer 2022. The move means that the Women's EURO will be the major international sporting event of that period – giving a significant boost to women's football into the bargain.

UEFA also postpones all national team matches due to be played in June.

In light of the COVID crisis and widespread financial difficulties faced by many European clubs, UEFA immediately releases club benefit payments related to the clubs' contribution to UEFA national team competitions.

In another solidarity gesture, UEFA releases €236.5m to help its 55 member associations meet the challenges of COVID-19 in their respective countries. "Our sport is facing an unprecedented challenge brought about by the COVID-19 crisis," says UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin. "I believe this is a responsible decision to help as much as we can."

The UEFA Foundation for Children – caring for children in Europe and beyond
The UEFA Foundation for Children – caring for children in Europe and beyondUEFA.com

The UEFA Foundation for Children celebrates five years of using football and its social power to support and defend children in Europe and beyond.

UEFA's 2018/19 Football and Social Responsibility Report showcases crucial commitments to using football's power for sustainable development.

MAY

In an extension of UEFA's first-ever pan-European grassroots programme for 5-8 year old girls, Playmakers, UEFA launches Play at Home with Playmakers, featuring characters from Disney and Pixar's Incredibles 2, to help children across Europe have fun while staying safe at home.

JUNE

©UEFA

UEFA announces that its 2019/20 club competitions will resume in August with a revamped match schedule – eight-team single-match knockout tournaments hosted in one country in the UEFA Champions League (Portugal), UEFA Europa League (Germany), UEFA Women's Champions League (Spain) and UEFA Youth League (Switzerland). Matches will be played behind closed doors and with strict medical precautions in place.

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin welcomes the 'Return to Play' – the result of outstanding cooperation and flexibility shown by UEFA, clubs, leagues, associations and players' unions. "The whole of the football community has worked hand in hand together to arrive at the point where the game can resume," he says.

The UEFA Executive Committee approves temporary emergency Financial Fair Play measures taking into account the adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on club finances.

UEFA announces the creation of a new framework to assist national associations in creating and developing their own women's football strategies.

The UEFA Foundation for Children awards €1 million in grants to 20 European charities in recognition of their work to improve the lives of deprived or socially excluded children.