Can It Still Be ‘Euro 2020’ in 2021? Sponsors Hope So


European soccer’s governing physique, UEFA, posted a message on its Twitter account on Friday night with a seemingly innocuous replace: Its European Championship — one other sporting casualty of the coronavirus outbreak — would nonetheless be often called Euro 2020, despite the fact that it has been postponed till 2021.

Within minutes, nonetheless, the tweet was deleted and changed by a message saying it had been despatched in error.

The inadvertent message underscored how organizers are grappling with the myriad complexities of rescheduling a match that stands simply behind the Summer Olympics soccer competitors and FIFA’s World Cup as one in all sport’s most-watched occasions. This yr’s match was billed as the most important Euros but, and for the primary time it was to be a Pan-European spectacular, with the video games unfold throughout the size and breadth of the continent, as a substitute of in only one or two host nations, to have fun its 60th anniversary.

But when UEFA introduced final week that it was suspending the match, which was set to start out on June 11, by a yr, it raised an necessary query for sponsors and industrial companions: Would it nonetheless be known as Euro 2020, even in 2021?

Even earlier than a closing resolution to postpone the Euros had been introduced, the group was making ready for the likelihood, together with on the branding entrance. Every week earlier than the announcement, attorneys for UEFA had registered the trademark Euro 2021 with patent places of work for the European Union, Britain and the United States.

But with the occasion so shut, planning had been accomplished, tickets had been near being issued and, simply as essential, thousands and thousands of things of merchandise with the Euro 2020 branding had been able to hit the outlets. A Euro 2020 online game from Konami was only a month away from its launch. Promotions by Heineken and Coca-Cola had been authorised, and Adidas had began to provide its anniversary ball.

Coca-Cola, a longtime accomplice of UEFA, had began delivery its first Euro 2020-branded packages to some markets two weeks earlier than the match was postponed, and a promotion with the maker of the match’s common sticker books was underway in Switzerland.

While a closing resolution has not been made, a number of of UEFA’s industrial companions want the match to maintain the Euro 2020 identify, in accordance with individuals conversant in the matter who requested anonymity to debate non-public deliberations. Such a move can be just like one introduced by the International Olympic Committee this week when it introduced that the Olympic Games postponed till subsequent yr would retain the identify Tokyo 2020.

Some Euro 2020 merchandise is already on cabinets, making it a collectible for this surprising second, by which a thriller virus has introduced sports activities to a halt. The common collector playing cards and sticker albums for the match, produced by the Italian firm Panini, for example, are on sale.

Tim Crow, a sports activities advertising and marketing marketing consultant primarily based in Britain whose previous purchasers embody Coca-Cola and BMW, mentioned retaining the 2020 branding can be “infinitely preferable” than having to rename it for UEFA’s many companions.

“Anybody who has done it knows that registering any kind of trademark and licensing is a very expensive and time-consuming exercise,” Crow mentioned. “To rip all that up and start again because you’ve postponed an event is one of the things you don’t necessarily have to do.”

A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola mentioned: “We look forward to working with UEFA to create a successful event next year, and would appreciate the decision to continue the use of the Euro 2020 marks to minimize impact to materials that were already created.”

While a few of UEFA’s sponsorship contracts run for a few years and canopy different occasions in its portfolio, some are particularly for the European Championship and had been set to terminate this yr. Those, in accordance with the individuals conversant in the matter, at the moment are more likely to be prolonged for an additional yr. UEFA’s contracts with broadcasters have already got a provision for a case by which the match is postponed for as much as 13 months.

UEFA’s authorized division, which, like a lot of Europe, is working from home, is poring over agreements and dealing to discover a resolution to an issue that till the final two months had not been envisaged by anybody concerned.

Guy-Laurent Epstein, UEFA’s advertising and marketing director, declined to touch upon the specifics of the group’s conversations with its companions. But he mentioned no closing resolution had been made in regards to the identify for the match, and added that every one the stakeholders concerned must “share the pain.”

“We are assessing the overall picture and taking all the arguments into consideration,” he mentioned.

Konami, the online game maker, had deliberate to launch its Euro 2020 recreation on April 30. Producing it required months of labor creating licensing agreements with all of UEFA’s 55 nationwide associations, in addition to UEFA itself, and firms that manufacture the jerseys, like Adidas and Nike. A plan had additionally been in place to incorporate the Adidas-produced match ball in addition to particular model for the ultimate.

“We are in ongoing discussion with UEFA,” mentioned a Konami spokesman, who added that an announcement about what the match can be named was more likely to be made quickly. “It’s definitely up to UEFA what the tournament is called.”

For firms that make bodily, branded objects, the pause couldn’t have come at a worse time. Some had been on the cusp of executing plans that had been hatched so long as 18 months in the past, and beverage firms like Coke and Heineken wouldn’t solely have labored on branding and promotion but additionally on shelving necessities for his or her prospects, like main supermarkets.

“As a longstanding UEFA partner, we fully support the decision to postpone Euro 2020 until the summer of 2021 and will work with UEFA on future plans,” Heineken mentioned in an announcement.

Tournament-specific merchandise, just like the thousands and thousands of key chains, balls and T-shirts that had been going to hit the cabinets within the subsequent weeks, will now more than likely need to be saved in warehouses.

But all of the campaigns and merchandise might not be capable of be merely rolled out as initially designed after the hiatus. Whenever soccer does return and the match could be performed, it’s clear that it will likely be in a unique atmosphere than when it was abruptly halted. Tournament hosts and sponsors, Crow mentioned, will in all probability wish to keep in mind the shock a lot of the world has endured.

“I think you might see some sponsors wanting to rethink their campaigns,” he mentioned.