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Aviva Stadium, San Mamés and Atatürk Olympic Stadium granted fresh UEFA hosting rights

UEFA has acted to compensate Bilbao, Dublin and Istanbul for the loss of hosting rights to its club and national team competitions due to COVID-19 by assigning other events to stadia in the three cities.

After the withdrawal of hosting rights for Euro 2020 from Bilbao and Dublin, the Executive Committee of European football’s governing body has approved a settlement agreement which includes the staging of future club competition finals, “recognising the efforts and financial investment” made by the two cities in preparing for the tournament.

Consequently, Dublin’s Aviva Stadium is set to host the Europa League final in 2024, whereas Bilbao will host the Women’s Champions League final in 2024 and the Europa League final in 2025 at San Mamés stadium.

In April, Munich retained its hosting rights to Euro 2020, with Bilbao and Dublin being dropped as host cities and their games reassigned to Seville, London and Saint Petersburg.

UEFA announced the decision following a Executive Committee meeting, settling on a final plan for a tournament that had been hit with substantial logistical challenges through COVID-19. Rome’s commitment to fan attendance left Munich, Bilbao and Dublin to confirm their plans, with the latter two cities having been at most risk.

German authorities ultimately confirmed that Munich’s Allianz Arena would 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 were dropped.

A statement published ahead of the April 23 announcement by local authorities in Bilbao said that UEFA had removed the city’s San Mamés stadium from the hosting plan for Euro 2020. The four matches initially scheduled to take place in Bilbao, were moved to the Estadio La Cartuja in Seville.

UEFA said the hosting of these matches was supported by the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, which 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.

Bilbao authorities had warned of legal action against UEFA over the removal of its games, but Mayor Juan Mari Aburto last month announced that a settlement agreement had been reached, which was confirmed by UEFA on Friday.

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

Meanwhile, UEFA has also compensated Istanbul after Atatürk Olympic Stadium (pictured) lost hosting rights to the Champions League final for the second year in a row. Following May’s relocation of the 2021 Champions League final from Istanbul to Porto, Uefa on Friday decided to award the staging of the 2023 Champions League final to Atatürk Olympic Stadium.

Furthermore, the European Club Season Kick-Off event, which includes the draws for the group stage of the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League, will take place in Istanbul at the end of August both for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons.

Consequently, the 2023 Champions League final originally to be played in Munich will be moved to 2025. Wembley Stadium will retain the rights to stage the Champions League final in 2024.

UEFA on May 13 confirmed that the Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea on May 29 would take place at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto instead of Istanbul’s Atatürk Olympic Stadium.

The decision allowed Manchester City and Chelsea fans to attend the final, which would not have been possible if the match had remained in Istanbul after the UK government earlier placed Turkey on its red list of COVID-19 travel destinations.

The match took place at the home of FC Porto following an offer from the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) and the Portuguese authorities. UEFA had discussed moving the match to England but, despite the efforts from the English Football Association (FA) and other authorities, it was not possible to achieve the necessary exemptions from UK quarantine arrangements for UEFA staff, media and sponsors.

Istanbul had also been due to stage the 2020 Champions League final before UEFA took the decision to stage a final eight-style tournament in Portugal amid the ongoing difficulties posed by COVID-19.

Image: Валерий Дед/CC BY 3.0/Edited for size