UEFA to consider Russia as the only venue for the Euro 2020

Instead of a multi-city format of the tournament, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) are looking to set the postponed European Championship solely in Russia, according to reports. The 24-team tournament was set to take place in 12 cities across 12 different countries back in June and July this year. However, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic pushed back the competition for a year.

Citing unnamed sources, a French newspaper reported that a back-up plan is being considered, which include moving the competition solely to Russia due to continued concerns on the rate of Covid-19 infection and mass travel restrictions. Russia’s successful hosting of the 2018 World Cup and is believed to have made the country an ideal candidate for holding the Euros from June 11 to July 11, 2021.

In 2014, UEFA have allocated fixtures in 13 cities across Europe. However, Brussels later withdrawn their staging participation when a stadium construction lacked support from local authorities. The four games in Brussels were allocated to Wembley Stadium in London. Russia’s second largest city of Saint Petersburg will stage all matches of Russia in the tournament next year.

Home to FC Zenit Saint Petersburg since April 2017, Saint Petersburg Stadium held seven fixtures at the 2018 World Cup.The stadium was built on the location where the former Kirov Stadium used to stand before it was demolished.Matches to be staged in this arena are: Belgium v Russia; Finland v Russia; Finland v Belgium; Quarter final: W41 v W42.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said last month the organization is exploring several scenarios for holding the Euro 2020 finals in 2021. With a low rate of infection, Russia can host the fixtures with fans in stadiums since one of the setbacks in holding the tournament in the wake of a pandemic is the restriction of spectators in stadiums, which will cause financial losses.

Another setback is the tension in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which sees Baku in Azerbaijan as host country. “I wouldn’t be skeptical about the possibility of holding Euro 2020 in Russia. It’s quite possible,” the veteran sportscaster VasilyUtkin told Russia’s Ekho Sport radio station. Russia’s borders have been closed since March 18, but exceptions have been issued to sports teams.

Earlier this year, Russian vice president Dmitry Chernyshenko confirmed that the country was willing to host more Euro 2020 matches if necessary. “We would like to offer UEFA more possibilities and host more matches in our country,” Chernyshenko said. At the time of writing, Russia has the fourth most number of coronavirus cases with nearly a million reported infection and more than 16,000 deaths.

Previously, the head of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Russia-2020 have announced over 40 Russian cities across the country are set to be a “fan zone” areas for fans who wishes to witness football action in the postponed Euro 2020 next year, if the coronavirus remains uncontainable as the tournament commence.

The matches of the Euro 2020 were initially scheduled to be held at stadiums in 12 different cities across Europe, namely in London (England), Munich (Germany), Rome (Italy), Baku (Azerbaijan), St. Petersburg (Russia), Bucharest (Romania), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Dublin (Ireland), Bilbao (Spain), Budapest (Hungary), Glasgow (Scotland) and Copenhagen (Denmark).