UEFA brings in medical expert as new ticketing process ‘weighed up’ for Euros

UEFA has appointed Dr Daniel Koch, former head of communicable diseases at Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), to aid its planning for fan attendance at the rescheduled Euro 2020, with European football’s governing body said to be weighing up a new ticketing process in order to get supporters in stadia.

Dr Koch (pictured) will serve as medical advisor to Euro 2020 on all matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Dr Koch has vast experience in the field of public health and communicable diseases,” said UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin. “His expertise will be invaluable in helping UEFA, host associations and host cities to navigate a path to maximising spectator attendance at Euro 2020 this summer.”

On Wednesday, UEFA reiterated its commitment to staging this summer’s European Championships across 12 host cities and gave venues until early April to make a decision on fan attendance. The rescheduled Euro 2020 is due to take place from June 11 to July 11. The tournament, initially scheduled for last summer, will be held in 12 cities across the continent but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is set to cause further logistical challenges and alternative hosting models have been mooted to limit travel for teams and fans.

UEFA has however reiterated its intention to hold the tournament across the 12 cities according to the timetable that has already been published. UEFA on Wednesday met with representatives of the 12 host associations/organisers to discuss operational matters relating to the tournament.

UEFA said that all parties “recognise the need for flexibility” around the decisions that will be made on arrangements for the tournament. UEFA added that the deadline for the submission of plans to accommodate fans inside stadiums has been moved to early April.

UK newspaper The Times today (Friday) reported that under the latest thinking for the Euros, only domestic-based fans are expected to be allowed to attend group matches, with limited numbers of travelling supporters permitted for the latter stages.

Wednesday’s meeting is said to have seen all 12 current hosts express their determination to hold their games. The 12 cities scheduled to host matches at Euro 2020 are London, Glasgow, Dublin, Bilbao, Amsterdam, Munich, Rome, Copenhagen, Budapest, Bucharest, Saint Petersburg and Baku.

London’s Wembley Stadium is due to host seven fixtures, including the semi-finals and final. Rome’s Stadio Olimpico will host the opening match between Italy and Turkey on June 11.

With all stadia likely to have their capacities significantly restricted, UEFA will either have to stage a ballot system to decide which of the already assigned tickets remain valid, or refund all tickets and restart the process. The Times said the latter option is viewed as the much simpler task.

Wednesday’s meeting is said to have seen UEFA advised that it would be much easier to persuade national governments to permit fans in stadia if only domestic supporters are allowed. Sources in the meeting told The Times that the Football Association’s (FA’s) plan for Wembley Stadium is for the facility to be 30% to 35% full, based on one-metre social distancing.

The FA is understood to have told UEFA it would ideally like to have some overseas fans, perhaps 2,000 or 3,000, for the semi-finals and final, by maintaining bubbles. They would be flown into London on charter flights, taken straight to the stadium and then back to the airport directly after the match, therefore generating minimal contact with the local population.

Image: Iris C. Ritter/fFuW