GENEVA (AP) — A stellar 2019 for soccer in Finland was meant to hit a new peak in the 2020 season.
The national team qualified last November for its first major tournament and Finland was going to spend mid-June obsessed by the European Championship.
Another Nordic nation making a long-shot debut dressed in blue and white, Finland was aiming to follow Iceland’s inspiring run to the Euro 2016 quarterfinals.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced Euro 2020 — where Finland was set to play against top-ranked Belgium, Denmark and neighbor Russia — to be postponed for one year.
On June 16, instead of preparing to face the Russians in nearby St. Petersburg, Finnish fans are looking to restart the national cup competition stopped in March.
July 1 is the target, pending government approval, to start the 12-team Veikkausliiga season. That’s almost three months after the league’s planned opening day and more than eight months since a memorable 2019 title was sealed.