With the coronavirus pandemic still uncontainable in some parts of Europe, the UK government admits that the Euro 2020 fixtures in Wembley, which includes the semis and finals, is in jeopardy if the health crisis remains a major concern next year. The tournament was due to take place in 12 different cities across 12 UEFA countries in June this year before it was put back until 2021 because of the pandemic.
The UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden hopes that the games will go ahead as planned. However, he also hints the possibility of changing plans if things will not get better by the time of the tournament. “I very much hope so,” he told a news portal when asked whether the Euros will be staged in June.
“But, given this virus and the unpredictability of it, I can’t give a cast iron assurance,” Dowden added. “Fans wouldn’t want it to go ahead if it wasn’t safe to do so. But if it is safe to do so, then, of course, we will work to achieve that. We’re planning on that basis, but this disease is with us this winter. In making decisions on this I’m going to be driven by the health first.”
In 2014, Wembley was chosen as the semi-final and final venue of the tournament by the UEFA Executive Committee, having been selected by acclamation after the finals package bid of the Allianz Arena in Munich was withdrawn. Allianz, however, is still part of the tournament as one of the venues but the centrepiece goes to its English counterpart.
Matches to be played in Wembley are England v Croatia England v Play-off winner C ; Czech Republic v England; Round of 16: 1A v 2C; Semi-final: W46 v W45; Semi-final: W48 v W47; Final: W49 v W50. The UK’s largest stadium and home to the English Football Association, Wembley Stadium is the centrepiece of the Euro 2020 finals where vital matches will be held in this stadium
Wembley is one of the biggest and best modern stadiums in Europe, if not the world. It is formerly known as the old ‘Empire Stadium’ that officially opened in 1924 and has welcomed over 21 million visitors since reopening in 2007. With 90,000 seats, it is the largest football stadium in England, the largest stadium in the UK and the second-largest stadium in Europe.
Earlier, the UK government under Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the planned return of spectators to sports venues are set to be postponed following the spike of coronavirus cases in the country. The Prime Minister also said current restrictions are likely to remain in place for the next six months. In July, Johnson set plans to allow fans in stadiums by October.
The Three Lions are set to have their first match at home as they neighbours Wales in an international friendly at Wembley in October. The game will form part of October’s triple header international break and will be played behind closed doors following the current government guidelines on the coronavirus crisis. England’s last home game was the heavy 7-0 win against Montenegro in November 2019.
Mass gatherings have been banned since March as part of social-distancing measures to combat coronavirus pandemic. The UK’s official pandemic death toll stood at more than 42,000 at the time of writing. It has for several weeks been the highest in Europe and the third highest in the world behind the United States and Brazil.