MANCHESTER: European soccer’s governing body says they are confident they will not need to take up UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s offer of hosting more Euro 2020 matches, insisting the venues in place across the continent will be sufficient for the delayed event.
The 12-nation tournament was postponed by a year to June due to the COVID-19 pandemic and there remain questions over UEFA’s plan to host the tournament across the continent.
London’s Wembley stadium will host the semi-finals and the final as well as group stage games and Johnson raised the prospect of additional games in an interview with The Sun newspaper published on Tuesday.
The UK government last week unveiled plans to end all restrictions on social contact in England by June 21. The tournament will run from June 11-July 11.
“We are hosting the Euros. We are hosting the semis and the final. If they want any other matches that they want hosted, we’re certainly on for that but at the moment that’s where we are with UEFA,” said Johnson.
UEFA declined to comment directly on Johnson’s offer referring to previous statements that they continue to work on existing plans with a decision due on April 5 about fan levels at specific venues.
Last week, Dr. Daniel Koch, UEFA’s medical advisor on Euro 2020 who heads up their COVID-related planning, said there was no question of the tournament being postponed or cancelled.
“There is no way the Euros will not happen, they will happen,” Koch told Reuters in an interview.
“There is no worst-case scenario, there are realistic scenarios and best-case scenarios,” he added.
Koch said UEFA would keep the option in place to allow for fan numbers to be scaled up should the situation allow.
“I think there will be a lot of flexibility at least up until the end of April… there is a lot of flexibility to say, now we can scale-up because the situation improved much more than expected,” he said.
The governing body last year outlined four operational scenarios – for full stadiums, 50-100% capacity or 20-30% capacity and games behind closed doors.
UEFA executive committee member Zbigniew Boniek, president of the Polish FA, said suggestions the body was considering switching to one nation hosting were wide of the mark.
“I am on the executive committee at UEFA and every day I talk privately with the people who organise this tournament and I can assure you that this is nonsense. Apparently, the tournament will be moved entirely to England; a month ago it was Russia. Why not Poland too?” he told The Times.
“In my opinion, it is actually easier to organise a tournament in 12 countries than in one because this way, you can be more flexible at this difficult time.
“People who say we have to move the tournament have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. It would be a gigantic, complicated thing to do and would cost UEFA big money. The current 12-venue format is the only feasible way to host it.”
Alongside London, the host cities are Glasgow, Dublin, Bilbao, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Munich, Rome, St Petersburg, Bucharest, Budapest and Baku. – Reuters