Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Scotland are among the countries who have offered UEFA assurances over fan attendance plans for the postponed Euro 2020 tournament, but Ireland’s host status appears to be at risk with the deadline for proposals closing today (Wednesday).
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 has created fresh challenges in organising what is a unique edition of the event.
UEFA in January reiterated its commitment to staging this summer’s European Championships across 12 host cities and gave venues until April 7 to make a decision on fan attendance. Rome is due to host four games at the Stadio Olimpico, including the opening match between Italy and Turkey and a quarter final, with Italy’s Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, yesterday (Tuesday) giving the green light to fan attendance.
While the exact capacity levels were not specified, Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president, Gabriele Gravina, said: “In such a complex moment… the desire to see the Italian presence confirmed at this great event was clearly expressed, giving confidence to the FIGC. We will collaborate with Undersecretary Valentina Vezzali who is accompanying us on this path. We have been sent a strong signal for the recovery that we will promptly transfer to UEFA.”
Munich’s Allianz Arena is Germany’s venue for Euro 2020, hosting three group games and a quarter-final. The city of Munich said it has submitted its attendance proposal to UEFA, adding that the scenario to be used will depend on the COVID-19 situation come the time of the tournament.
The city told German news agency DPA: “In this respect it is of course conceivable and desirable that spectators can be in the stadium for the four games in Munich. A withdrawal was, and is not, an issue from Munich’s point of view.”
In Spain, Bilbao’s staging of games at San Mamés stadium was recently reported to be one of three hosts most at risk of losing hosting rights, with UEFA determined to ensure healthy attendances. San Mamés is due to host three group games, plus a Round of 16 encounter, and its status was solidified today.
Bilbao’s city hall has told European football’s governing body that it is prepared to host Euro 2020 games at 53,000-seat San Mamés at 25% capacity, if COVID-19 infection rates fall below current levels.
Glasgow was also said to be at risk, but the Scottish Football Association (SFA) today said it has received approval from the Government to allow for up to 25% capacity for the four games at Hampden Park. This will equate to around 12,000 fans, with the SFA stating this guidance will be subject to continued progress with reducing the prevalence of the virus and the roll-out of the vaccination programme.
In the Netherlands, the Dutch Football Association (KNVB), government and municipality of Amsterdam have today confirmed that at least 25% capacity will be permitted for Johan Cruijff ArenA. The stadium is due to host three group games and a Round of 16 tie, with Dutch stakeholders saying that the capacity limit could be increased if the COVID-19 situation improves by June.
Gijs de Jong, Amsterdam’s tournament director for Euro 2020, said: “We look forward to receiving 12,000 spectators in the Johan Cruijff ArenA, but realise that the coronavirus is unpredictable and there are no guarantees. However, we remain hopeful that the situation in June will have improved to such an extent that even more spectators can attend.”
UEFA last week overturned its stance that stadia are only allowed to host matches in its competitions at up to 30% capacity as it drew closer to making a final decision on the plan for Euro 2020.
Earlier, UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said he was confident that large numbers of fans will be able to attend matches at Wembley Stadium during the latter stages of the European Championships. Wembley is due to host the most number of games, seven in total including the final and a semi-final, and authorities hope the London venue may even be full by July 11.
A UEFA Executive Committee meeting on April 19 is scheduled to analyse the fan attendance issue. As well as the aforementioned cities, Euro 2020 matches will be held in Glasgow, Dublin, Copenhagen, Budapest, Bucharest, Saint Petersburg and Baku.
Last month, Danish Culture Minister Joy Mogensen confirmed that Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium will be able to welcome at least 11,000 fans for its matches at the tournament. Plans are also being drawn up for Saint Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena to open at 50% capacity, while Hungary has indicated that only vaccinated fans will be allowed to attend games at Budapest’s Puskás Aréna. The Romanian government is targeting 25% capacity at Bucharest’s 55,000-seat National Arena.
Along with Bilbao and Glasgow, the other host city previously reported to be at most risk was Dublin. Aviva Stadium is due to host four games and could now be set to lose these after the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), following “advice and guidance” from the Government, today said it had notified UEFA that it is not in a position at this point to provide assurances on minimum spectator levels.
In so doing, the FAI said it has advised UEFA that the matter will be kept under review and that the Dublin organising team, including Government, will continue to discuss all issues with UEFA on an ongoing basis.
FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill said: “We have made our submission to UEFA today and now await their response once submissions from all 12 host cities have been received and considered.”
UEFA could now elect to move Dublin’s games to Wembley.
Image: Wembley Stadium