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UEFA in 2020 – Part 2: Returning to Play

In the second part of our review of UEFA’s year, covering the period from July to December, we look at the restart of UEFA’s major club and national team competitions in August, and how UEFA and European football continued to face the challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Bayern München celebrate winning the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League
Bayern München celebrate winning the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

JULY

The Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) Voetbalkampen is just one national training centre that has benefited from the HatTrick programme
The Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) Voetbalkampen is just one national training centre that has benefited from the HatTrick programmeEric Verhoeven/Soccrates

UEFA’s HatTrick programme, which invests profits from UEFA EURO tournaments back into European football, begins a new four-year cycle that will see €775.5 million devoted to developing the game.

UEFA publishes the first-ever overview of how Europe’s 55 national football associations implement its club licensing system.

Interviewed for UEFA Direct, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin talks about UEFA's leadership during the COVID-19 crisis, underlining that the solidarity shown by football's stakeholders offers a positive lesson for the future.

UEFA Direct also reports on how UEFA and Europe’s football stakeholders joined forces to plan and launch the game’s return across the continent in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.

UEFA Champions League clubs say "Thank You"
UEFA Champions League clubs say "Thank You"

AUGUST

UEFA’s elite club competitions resume with every player’s shirt carrying the words ‘Thank You’ in their team’s chosen language – European football’s recognition of key workers for their tireless contributions on the COVID-19 front lines. “We must not forget the people whose dedication has given us the opportunity to start playing again,” says UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin.

UEFA releases a medical and operational protocol for its senior men’s and women’s club and national teams, as well as for all matches in the club competition final tournaments in August.

An exciting and unique UEFA Champions League final tournament in Lisbon ends with Germany’s Bayern München claiming their sixth title in Europe’s premium club competition.

There’s also a sixth UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup title for Spanish outfit Sevilla in the climax to an outstanding final tournament in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region.

Lyon clinched their seventh UEFA Women’s Champions League title
Lyon clinched their seventh UEFA Women’s Champions League titleGetty images

Lyon continue their domination of European women’s club football, clinching a fifth straight UEFA Women’s Champions League title and seventh overall in the final tournament in Spain’s Basque Country. Positive feedback accompanies the return to play in the premier club competition in women's football.

Real Madrid capture their first UEFA Youth League title in the final tournament in Nyon

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin reflects on the successful return of UEFA’s club competitions

The UEFA Executive Committee decides to allow September’s 2020 UEFA Super Cup match in Budapest to be played with a reduced number of spectators – up to 30 % of the capacity of the stadium – to evaluate the impact of spectators on the UEFA Return to Play Protocol.

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin emphasises that common efforts are required in the fight to eradicate racism from European football. “UEFA is well-placed to unite and coordinate fans, players, clubs, leagues, administrative bodies and the media,” he says. “To slay the beast of racism, we will all need to stand and act together.”

UEFA’s determination to fulfil its long-term strategy for women's football in Europe, Time for Action, is reflected in impressive first-year results.

SEPTEMBER

In addition to the recovery of dates lost due to the cancellation of the March 2020 window and the postponement of EURO 2020 by extending the March and September 2021 windows in the FIFA international match calendar, UEFA’s Executive Committee allows five substitutions at matches in 2020/21 club and national team competitions.

Grassroots football – crucial for the game’s well-being
Grassroots football – crucial for the game’s well-beingAFP via Getty Images

UEFA Grassroots Week provides the chance to show how UEFA and its member associations are working together to find new ways of supporting grassroots football.

In an entertaining encounter against Sevilla in Budapest, Bayern München win the UEFA Super Cup for the second time.

OCTOBER

Spanish outfit Barça become only the second club to win a third UEFA futsal club title as they clinch the UEFA Futsal Champions League crown in the finals in their home city Barcelona.

Following the successful pilot at the UEFA Super Cup match in Budapest, UEFA’s Executive Committee decides to allow the partial return of spectators for UEFA matches where local laws permit. The number of spectators will be capped at a maximum of 30 % of the respective stadium capacity, and away supporters will not be allowed into the games until further notice.

Didier Drogba with the UEFA President's Award
Didier Drogba with the UEFA President's AwardUEFA via Getty Images

Former Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba – one of the greatest players ever to come out of Africa – receives the 2020 UEFA President’s Award at the UEFA Champions League draw ceremony in Geneva.

Bayern München’s Polish forward Robert Lewandowski and former VfL Wolfsburg and current Chelsea FC forward, Denmark’s Pernille Harder, are crowned 2019/20 UEFA Men's and Women’s Player of the Year respectively.

FC Internazionale Milano and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku is named the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League Player of the Season

UEFA Direct highlights how UEFA’s ambitious overall strategy for European football, launched a year ago, is already proving its worth.

NOVEMBER

North Macedonia celebrate qualifying for their first-ever EURO finals
North Macedonia celebrate qualifying for their first-ever EURO finalsUEFA

Dramatic playoff finals see four teams book their tickets for next summer’s UEFA EURO 2020 tournament - Hungary, North Macedonia, Scotland and Slovakia

At the end of the group phase, Belgium, France, Italy and Spain book their places for the UEFA Nations League finals next autumn.

UEFA delivers an unprecedented insight into one of the toughest jobs in football with the release of an original documentary series – 'Man in the Middle' – showing up close and personal what it takes to be a UEFA Champions League referee.

The UEFA Grassroots programme
The UEFA Grassroots programme

Nominees from Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Italy and Poland take the highest honours in UEFA’s 2020 Grassroots Awards as the European body rewards excellence in the grassroots game.

The UEFA Foundation for Children’s board of trustees approves 55 children’s projects in Europe and beyond in 2020/21.

DECEMBER

The UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League group stages come to an end having suffered minimal disruption - the health protocols and logistical efforts continuing to help deliver European football in a safe environment.

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, meeting by videoconference, discuss climate action cooperation and vaccination awareness, and commit to strengthening the partnership.

In another videoconference, Mr Čeferin and European Parliament President David Sassoli commit to promoting inclusion and safeguarding solidarity in European football.

The Giuseppe Meazza stadium in Milan will host the 2021 UEFA Nations League final
The Giuseppe Meazza stadium in Milan will host the 2021 UEFA Nations League final Getty Images

The UEFA Executive Committee appoints Italy as hosts of next year’s UEFA Nations League finals; Albania’s capital Tirana will host the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League final in 2022, and Romania and Georgia will stage the 2023 European Under-21 Championship finals.

UEFA and the German Football Association (DFB) found a joint venture for the organisation of UEFA EURO 2024 in Germany. Former Bayern München and Germany international Philipp Lahm will act as tournament director on the joint venture's behalf.

President Aleksander Čeferin announces UEFA’s support for the European Climate Pact, pledging to use football’s global reach to raise awareness of the climate emergency and inspire more people to take action to save the planet.

European men’s and women’s football stars give their personal views on racism, sexism and homophobia in a new UEFA documentary – 'Outraged' – that puts the spotlight on the issue of discrimination within the game.

Writing in UEFA Direct, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin highlights the lessons learned by UEFA and European football during an extraordinary 12 months – and emphasises that teamwork, unity and solidarity can help the football community overcome any obstacle.