Bilbao, Dublin and Glasgow are reportedly at risk of losing hosting rights to matches at this summer’s rescheduled UEFA European Championships amid uncertainty over whether fans will be able to attend games.
Euro 2020 is due to take place from June 11 to July 11 in 12 cities across the continent and UEFA has repeatedly insisted that it intends to stage the tournament as planned.
In January, UEFA met with representatives of the 12 host associations/organisers to discuss operational matters relating to the tournament. Amid ongoing uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, UEFA said that the deadline for the submission of plans to accommodate fans inside stadiums has been moved to early April.
With this deadline fast approaching, the Associated Press, citing people with knowledge of tournament planning, has reported that Bilbao, Dublin and Glasgow face the prospect of being dropped by UEFA over the “lack of guarantees” surrounding fan attendance.
UEFA has however reiterated its intention to stage the tournament across 12 cities. The governing body said in a statement to Sky Sports News: “Since the tournament was announced, as to be staged across 12 countries, it has remained UEFA’s intention to stage it in 12 countries.”
There have been growing calls for London’s Wembley Stadium to host more matches at Euro 2020 as the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out continues apace across England. The UK government announced last week that sports fans could return to stadiums by May 17 as part of its roadmap for reopening, with all restrictions on social contact potentially being lifted by June 21 in a move that would further calls for England to be awarded more games.
The plan to reopen stadiums does not apply to Scotland, meaning that fan attendance plans for Euro 2020 games at Glasgow’s Hampden Park remain unclear. The stadium is due to host three group-stage games and a last-16 fixture.
The AP reported that UEFA could consider Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as well as grounds in Manchester or Liverpool, should Hampden Park or Dublin’s Aviva Stadium (pictured) be dropped from the host venue list. In a statement to the AP, the Irish government said that it is “too early” to say when restrictions could be eased in the country.
Doubts also remain over Bilbao’s plans for fan attendance, with the Basque government telling the AP that it must be “cautious”.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier this week that England would be open to hosting more matches this summer if needed. Health Secretary Matt Hancock recently played down the suggestion that England could stage the entirety of the tournament.
As well as London, Glasgow, Dublin and Bilbao, Euro 2020 games are due to be held in Amsterdam, Munich, Rome, Copenhagen, Budapest, Bucharest, Saint Petersburg and Baku.