Munich retains Euro 2020 status as Bilbao, Dublin lose rights

Munich has retained its hosting rights to UEFA Euro 2020, with Bilbao and Dublin being dropped as host cities and their games for the rescheduled national team football tournament reassigned to Seville, London and Saint Petersburg.

European football’s governing body UEFA announced the decision today (Friday) following an Executive Committee meeting, settling on a final plan for a tournament that has been hit with substantial logistical challenges through COVID-19.

On April 9, UEFA granted Munich, Rome, Bilbao and Dublin extra time to provide additional information of their plans for Euro 2020, after confirming what the remaining eight host cities had outlined as their fan attendance plans for the tournament.

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 11 cities across the continent but the global pandemic has created fresh challenges in organising what is a unique edition of the event.

Following UEFA’s decision on April 9, Rome confirmed it would be able to host the opening ceremony and first match of Euro 2020 after Italian authorities agreed to a plan that would allow at least 18,000 fans to attend games at the Stadio Olimpico.

Sports Minister Valentina Vezzali confirmed in writing that the government would commit to having at least 25% capacity at the 72,000-seat Stadio Olimpico – which would be around 18,000 spectators – for the four scheduled Euro 2020 games, beginning on June 11.

This left Munich, Bilbao and Dublin to confirm their plans, with the latter two cities having been at most risk coming into today’s meeting. German authorities have now confirmed that Munich’s Allianz Arena will be able to host its four games with a minimum of 14,500 spectators. Munich was therefore confirmed as a host venue for the championship, but both Bilbao and Dublin have been dropped.

Seville added, Saint Petersburg and London gain games

A statement published this week by local authorities in Bilbao said that UEFA had removed the city’s San Mamés stadium from the hosting plan for Euro 2020, confirmation of which came today. The four matches initially scheduled to take place in Bilbao, will now be moved to the Estadio La Cartuja in Seville.

UEFA said the hosting of these matches is supported by the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, which has confirmed its intention of allowing spectators at 30% of the stadium capacity of around 60,000 for the three Group E matches and a Round of 16 match.

Outlining the reasoning behind its decision, UEFA said: “Following the decision of the local authorities, it was clear that fans were very unlikely to be able to attend the matches that were scheduled to be played there.

“Therefore, with the assistance of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), UEFA proposed to move those matches to another venue in that host country, simply to allow fans to attend the games after a year of not being able to watch live football in stadiums. This decision will create a festive atmosphere at all matches taking place in UEFA’s flagship national team competition.”

The three Group E matches initially scheduled for Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, will be reallocated to the Gazprom Arena in Saint Petersburg, which is already hosting three Group B matches and a quarter-final. The Round of 16 match initially scheduled in Dublin, will be moved to Wembley Stadium in London.

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) said UEFA had stated that Dublin’s four games had been moved due to the public health situation in the country, adding that UEFA had required an assurance of a minimum of 25% spectator attendance at each game. However, the FAI added that UEFA is “welcoming” a candidature by Dublin to host one of the European club finals after 2023.

FAI CEO Jonathan Hill said: “The reality here is that circumstances beyond our control have led to the games being moved and we have to acknowledge that public health must come first in a global pandemic.

“This is the end of the Euro 2020 project but the dedication and professionalism of all involved makes everyone at the FAI more determined than ever to bring big games and big tournaments to our country and I am delighted that UEFA have recognised our endeavours by agreeing to work with us on big projects for Dublin and Ireland in the future including the staging of a UEFA club final at the Aviva Stadium after 2023 which is something to really look forward to as we enter our centenary year.”

UEFA said all tickets for matches in Bilbao and Dublin will be cancelled, with all impacted ticket buyers able to receive a full refund for the face value of their cancelled tickets. Existing ticket buyers for Bilbao and Dublin will receive priority access on a first-come, first-served basis to future ticket sales windows for the corresponding re-organised fixtures.

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin said: “We have been working diligently with the host associations and local authorities to ensure a safe and festive environment at the games and I am really pleased that we are able to welcome spectators at all matches for a celebration of national team football across the continent.

“UEFA wishes to express its appreciation and gratitude to the cities of Bilbao and Dublin – both of which are considered as good venues to host future UEFA events – the national and regional governments of Spain and the Republic of Ireland, and all local stakeholders for their dedication, professionalism and efforts over the past years.

“UEFA would also like to thank the Football Association of Ireland and its dedicated staff for their excellent collaboration and hard work, and is looking forward to continuing to work with the remaining 11 host associations in delivering UEFA Euro 2020 matches.” 

The situation elsewhere

Earlier this month, Saint Petersburg confirmed a capacity of 50% for its games, with the possibility of increasing the capacity by the end of April, while Budapest (Puskás Aréna) is aiming to host spectators at full capacity, subject to spectators fulfilling strict stadium entry requirements.

Baku (Olympic Stadium) has confirmed a capacity of 50%, with the travelling fans of the participating teams required to present a negative COVID-19 test result to enter Azerbaijan.

Amsterdam (Johan Cruijff ArenA), Bucharest (National Arena), Copenhagen (Parken Stadium) and Glasgow (Hampden Park) have confirmed a capacity of 25%-33%, with Amsterdam, Bucharest and Copenhagen keeping open the option to raise their capacities at the end of April, depending on the development of their mass testing programmes and general health conditions.

London, whose Wembley Stadium will be the main venue with seven games, plus Dublin’s Round of 16 fixture, confirmed a minimum capacity of 25% for the three group matches and Round of 16 match and is hoping to confirm a higher capacity for the semi-finals and final in early July.

Image: Marco Verch/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size