As Euro 2020 looms, UEFA 'in hands of authorities' over coronavirus


FILE PHOTO: A person wearing a protective face mask walks past the Euro 2020 countdown clock in central Saint Petersburg, Russia March 1, 2020. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - European soccer body UEFA says decisions over whether to cancel matches, including playoffs for the upcoming Euro 2020, due to the coronavirus, will be made by governments and health authorities and not the game's ruling organizations.

UEFA executives met on Monday but spent only a few minutes discussing the spread of the flu-like disease, which has seen sporting events cancelled around the world.

It has played havoc with domestic soccer in Italy where Sunday's clash between Juventus and Inter Milan was among six weekend games postponed. Last week, Inter played Bulgarian club Ludogorets in the Europa League behind closed doors at their San Siro stadium.

"We're in touch with the authorities, we're in the hands of the local authorities, and we'll deal with whatever they tell us," a UEFA spokesman said.

"There wasn't much discussion about it because there is not much we can do about it ... it's in the hands of those people who were experts in the situation."

National teams from across the continent are scheduled to feature later this month including playoffs for UEFA's Euro 2020, which is scheduled to be held in 12 cities.

The playoffs on March 26 and March 31 feature 16 teams battling for four spaces in the 24-team finals.

Outside Europe, two rounds of World Cup qualifiers are also scheduled for the same period in Asia and South America while friendly matches are planned globally.

As well as the Euro 2020 playoffs then the tournament finals in June and July, UEFA also has high-profile Champions League and Europa League games this month.

"We're in constant contact with the WHO (World Health Organization) and the authorities dealing with the matches that are being staged, and then we'll deal with that when the situation arises," the spokesman said.

(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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