Ceferin demands fans for Euro venues

Warren Ashurst
March 18th 2021, 7:23 pm
Last Updated 3 years ago
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There has been a lot of talk recently that the UK might solely host the European Championships this summer, but that looks like something UEFA are trying to avoid as they plan for the revised event.

As the continent continues to battle the COVID pandemic, there have been questions as to whether this summer’s tournament could still be split over several countries.

Many of the top European leagues have been without fans since the beginning of the year and there have been concerns as to whether there will be empty stadiums this summer as well.

There are due to be 12 host cities for the tournament, which starts with the opening game on June 11 and runs to the final on July 11.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has now said that he wants assurances from the host cities that they will be able to accommodate fans at the games. If they can’t guarantee that, then those fixtures allocated may be moved to another venue.

The officials for those cities have been told that they have to submit their plans by April 7, as to how many spectators they feel they will be able to host.

Ceferin says every city ‘must guarantee’ there will be fans at the games and insists that playing a Euro 2020 match in an empty stadium is “off the table”.

The UEFA president insisted: “We have several scenarios, but the one guarantee we can make is that the option of playing any Euro 2020 match in an empty stadium is off the table.

“Every host must guarantee there will be fans at their games.”

There had been previous concerns that Dublin and Glasgow might be two of the cities to miss out on matches, with suggestions that the Irish and Scottish governments would not commit to hosting fans.

But since then, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has stated that she and the Scottish National Party are “absolutely intent” on hosting matches at Hampden Park.

Ms Sturgeon said earlier this month: “Nobody wants to lose the Euros and I don’t think we should be in the position right now of thinking that is the case.

“There is a deadline that all countries have to give and indication to UEFA what they think will be possible in terms of fan attendance and fan zones.”

She added: “While we are really hopeful, and I think you are getting signs of a lot of optimism from us today, looking too far ahead is just difficult to do, but let me be clear we are absolutely intent on having Hampden as a host stadium for the Euros.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also recently said that the UK would be in a position to host additional matches if needed, should other countries be forced to drop out.

After a concerted NHS vaccine effort, English club sides are still hoping to have some fans back in stadiums in May, which could see the last two rounds of Premier League fixtures having supporters at the games.

The FA Cup final – which is set to take place on May 15 – is also set to be used as a trial event ahead of the summer tournament.

We will have a better idea by the middle of April what the situation will be though, as European football’s governing body has set a deadline for clarification.

Ceferin added: “We have set a deadline of April 20 for the final decision on the Euros”.

“The ideal scenario is to play the tournament in the original 12 venues, but if that is not possible then it will go ahead in either 10 or 11 countries, if one or more of the venues cannot meet the required conditions.”

UEFA’s executive committee are due to meet on Monday, April 19, before the Congress then make a final venue decision on April 20.

Some reports claim that UEFA want at least 25% of the seats full for all matches, with the powers that be stating that they would still prefer the tournament to be spread across Europe rather than hosted by a single country.

As things stand, there are matches set to be played in 12 different countries – the Netherlands, Spain, Azerbaijan, Hungary, Romania, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Italy and Russia.

The Stadio Olimpico in Rome – home of Lazio and Roma – is due to host the opening match of the tournament on June 11, with Turkey set to face Italy in Group A. The other matches in that group will be played at the Olympic Stadium in Baku.

The six Group B fixtures will be split between the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen and the Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg, while the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam and Arena Nationala in Bucharest are set to host the Group C matches.

Group D includes England and Scotland, with those six matches split between Wembley and Hampden Park, while Group E games are divided between the Aviva Stadium in Dublin and Bilbao’s San Mames.

The teams in Group F, which is made up of France, Germany, Portugal and Hungary, are due to be based at the Puskas Arena in Budapest and Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena.

The quarter-finals – to be played on July 2 and July 3 – will be split between four different stadiums, with the final eight games in Munich, Baku, St Petersburg and Rome.

Both semi-finals, on July 6 and July 7, as well as the final – which will be match 51 of the tournament – will be played at Wembley

Warren Ashurst

Warren has been employed as a sport journalist for over two decades and as well as years of written experience, has also worked in other areas of the media including radio and television. Football has always been his number one passion and has covered both domestic and international level.