BREAKING NEWS: Dublin faces being stripped of their Euro 2020 matches after Irish FA admit they ‘CAN’T offer assurances’ of allowing 25% capacity crowds in… with England on standby to host their games
- 12 Euro 2020 host cities had to confirm to UEFA today they could host 25% capacities at their stadiums in the tourbament that takes place in June and July
- The Football Association of Ireland has said it cannot guarantee the figure
- UEFA will now have to decide if it gives Dublin more time or strips it of its games
- The four matches may be reallocated and England is a possible location
The Football Association of Ireland has told UEFA that it cannot guarantee a minimum number of spectators at the four EURO 2020 matches scheduled for Dublin this summer.
The admission creates a real possibility that the games will now be allocated to another country – with England a potential candidate.
UEFA had set a deadline of today for the 12 host cities to confirm minimum spectator numbers at Euro 2020 matches.
Dublin’s Aviva Stadium could yet miss out on Euro 2020 games amid fears over fans attending
It is expected that the other 11 cities will provide the assurances the European football governing body requires. Most have already done so, with Scotland, Spain and Romania all confirming today that they would agree to 25% capacity.
But the FA in Ireland is now waiting nervously on UEFA to decide whether it will give Dublin more time, or axe it from the programme and redistribute matches.
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.’
The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium would be an ideal venue to host extra Euro 2020 games
In a statement, the FA of Ireland added: ‘All partners of the Local Organising Structure – Government, the FAI, Aviva Stadium and Dublin City Council – recognise the challenges presented by spectator attendance at Aviva Stadium for the scheduled hosting of four matches at EURO 2020 this summer and that public health issues are the most important consideration in the organisation of the project.’
It is expected that the four games due to be played in Ireland will be switched to England, which would mean Gareth Southgate’s men could play their last-16 game on home soil if they win their group.
Ireland were due to play stage to Poland vs Slovakia, Sweden vs Slovakia, Sweden vs Poland and the winner of group D’s last-16 match.
It could be a huge boost for England, as they will play their last-16 game on home soil if they finish up as the winners of Group D
It is not yet clear which stadium or stadiums will be used to host these games if they are moved from Ireland to England, though the £1billion Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Wembley, Old Trafford and Newcastle’s St James’ Park are all options.
Covid infection rates in Ireland remain stubbornly high, despite a lockdown since Christmas, however the Irish authorities have assured UEFA the matter will be kept under review.
Meanwhile, the Scottish FA have advised UEFA that Hampden Park can have a capacity of up to 25% for Euro 2020, meeting the minimum requirement and securing the matches for Glasgow.
Scotland will host the Czech Republic and Croatia at Hampden Park after its men qualified for a first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup.
WHAT EACH HOST CITY HAS SAID
The Bavarian capital has submitted plans to UEFA, with local authorities assuring the media it is ‘desirable’ for fans to be in the stadium for the four Euro 2020 matches. However, Germany remains gripped by a third wave of coronavirus infection and is set to go back into a mini-lockdown, illustrating the complexity of planning at this time.
Matches in Baku have been threatened twice. Once by the conflict with Armenia in the Nagorno Karabakh region and then by coronavirus. However, while there has been little news of the former Soviet republic’s preparations of late, UEFA officials now appear confident that the games will go ahead in front of fans.
The Hungarian Football Association has been a steadfast supporter of UEFA during the past 12 months and that seems unlikely to change. The Ferenc Puskás Stadium hosted 15,500 fans for the UEFA Super Cup encounter between Bayern Munich and Sevilla in September. It also accepted Champions League fixtures at short notice between Liverpool and RB Leipzig and Atletico Madrid and Chelsea, as well as a Europa League tie between Wolfsberger and Tottenham.
Matches will be played in front of a maximum of 13,000 spectators, representing 25% of the National Arena’s capacity, the Romanian Ministry of Sports announced on Wednesday. Fans will be required to present a certificate to show they have been vaccinated or recovered from Covid.
St Petersburg, Russia
Russian authorities have committed to 50% capacity at the 65,000-seat Gazprom Arena and not ruled out increasing the number of fans before the cut-off date of April 28.
The northern Spanish city was considered one of the venues most likely to drop out of hosting Euro 2020 after UEFA insisted on a commitment to some fans at matches. However, Bilbao’s city hall has told UEFA it is ready to stage Euro 2020 games at the San Mames stadium at 25% capacity – 13,000 fans – if coronavirus infection rates drop below current levels.
The Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) has said ‘at least 12,000 spectators’ will be able to attend matches at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam. And even more supporters could attend if the pandemic eases.
Another city originally on the ‘at risk’ list, which now appears to be back in the game. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as said she expects ‘a reasonably good number of spectators’ at Hampden Park for the matches and on Wednesday the Scottish FA confirmed to UEFA that it would accommodate 25% capacity at Hampden.
The big unknown. Dublin is considered the shakiest of the 12 host cities by UEFA officials, with the Irish government insisting last week – and repeating its position this week – that it cannot commit to minimum spectator numbers at this stage. The nature and tone of the Irish government and FA’s message to UEFA on Wednesday will determine if Dublin is given time, or axed from the programme.
London is one of the most solid host cities thanks to a long period of lockdown and high vaccination rates among the population. While the initial matches may be limited to around 20,000 fans – a similar number due to attend the FA Cup Final on May 15 – the FA has reportedly told UEFA it wants 45,000 spectators in for the final and semi-finals.
Denmark is planning on up to 12,000 fans being allowed into the four matches at the 38,000-capacity Parken Stadium, which would see the ground about one-third full.
Italy has confirmed it will admit fans for its Euro 2020 fixtures and is reported to be prepared to allow the Stadio Olimpico in Rome to host 25% capacity in the 72,600-seat stadium. Around 18,000 will be present.
Delayed Euro 2020 tournament is due to be held in 12 cities across 12 different countries
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