Argentina skipper Lionel Messi (L) and Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo.
Argentina skipper Lionel Messi (L) and Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo.

The European Championship, second only to the World Cup in importance and value in international soccer, will be postponed until 2021, tournament organisers decided on Tuesday, reports New York Times.

Hours later, the organisers of the Copa América, South America’s continental championship, which was scheduled to run concurrently with the Euros, announced that they would do the same, moving their event — set for Argentina and Colombia this summer — back a year.

The move by the governing body for soccer in Europe, UEFA, will clear the month of summer dates blocked out for the tournament, known as Euro 2020, and could allow national leagues that have been suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak to complete their seasons.

A working group has been set up with the participation of leagues and club representatives to examine calendar solutions that would allow for the completion of the current season.

“We are at the helm of a sport that vast numbers of people live and breathe that has been laid low by this invisible and fast-moving opponent,” UEFA’s president, Aleksandr Ceferin, said. “It is at times like these, that the football community needs to show responsibility, unity, solidarity and altruism.”

Officials from Conmebol, the South American confederation that organizes the Copa América, said they had made the decision to delay their championship to try to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, which is already present in several of its member countries.

“It has not been easy to make this decision,” Conmebol said in a statement, “but we must safeguard at all times the health of our athletes and of all the agents who are part of the great family of South American football.”

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