UEFA rejects Israel’s offer to assist Euro 2020 hosting, committed to hold 12-nation event

Following the success of COVID-19 vaccination program in Israel, football officials in the country offered to host some UEFA Champions League and Euro 2020 football matches. The Israel Football Association (IFA) confirmed they are willing to let UEFA use three of their stadiums for staging matches at this summer’s delayed Euro 2020 and the latter stages of the Champions League and Europa League.

However, Israel has only two stadiums that would meet some of UEFA’s capacity requirements to host major matches – Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadum has a capacity of 34,000 seats while the Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa boasts a capacity of 30,780. It is learnt that no Israeli city was among the 12 originally selected to stage Euro cup finals, which is due to take begin in June.

“We did offer UEFA any assistance necessary,” a spokesperson for the Israel Football Association told a news outlet “We hope for all the Euro 2020 hosting, the national teams and clubs that it won’t be needed.” With more than 41 per cent of Israelis have received at least one shot of the Pfizer vaccine, Israel has said it will partially reopen hotels and gyms on 23 February.

However, in response to Israel’s offer, UEFA reaffirm its commitment to hold the original 12-nation tournament across the European region. “UEFA is committed to holding Euro 2020 across 12 European cities, according to the schedule agreed last summer. There are no other plans being pursued,” UEFA said in a statement.  A final decision about the matter was also pushed back from March to April.

It is learned that the championship’s final typically attracts a broadcast audience of 300 million worldwide, generating a profit of 830 million euros ($912 million) for UEFA four years ago. UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin has earlier confirmed that there will be no changes in the venue. “For now, the plan is to play in all 12 countries,” Ceferin said.  

Initially, Munich, Rome, St Petersburg and Baku will host quarter-finals as well as group-stage clashes, while Copenhagen, Bucharest, Amsterdam, Dublin, Bilbao, Glasgow and Budapest are the other venues, staging group-stage and last-16 encounters.The most glorious 24-team tournament will now take place from June 11 to July 11 in 2021.

In less than five months, the virus-delayed European Championship will commence and the European governing body has been wrestling with how to proceed with the original Euro 2020 given Europe’s slow pace of vaccination and the scenario that fans won’t be able to attend matches this summer in Europe. The host cities have been asked to come up with two to three plans out of those options.

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