Earlier this week, the UK government has admitted that seven Euro 2020 matches, including the last 16 matches and both semi-finals and the final, due to be staged at Wembley next summer could be cancelled because of Covid-19, according to reports. In March, the UEFA postponed their largest European Championship men’s soccer tournament to the threat of global pandemic.
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden admitted that the staging of the tournament in England in the wake of the pandemic remains uncertain. “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.”
Wembley was chosen as the semi-final and final venue of the tournament by the UEFA Executive Committee in 2014, having been selected by acclamation after the finals package bid of the Allianz Arena in Munich was withdrawn.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.
“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,” Dowden added. With 90,000 seats, Wembley is the largest football stadium in England, the largest stadium in the UK and the second-largest stadium in Europe. It is owned by the Football Association (the FA) and the former temporary home ofclub Tottenham Hotspur.
In contrary, the FA have recently given assurances that Wembleywill remain a host venue for Euro 2020 even if fans do not return to Premier League stadiums despite the government’s concern. Reports claim that practices and protocols are already in place and they are ready to act quickly once given the all-clear to allow fans into Wembley.
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 However, Brussels later withdrawn their staging participation when a stadium construction lacked support from local authorities.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. Held every four years, Euro is considered the most popular football tournament next to the World Cup in terms of international prestige.
Matches to be played at 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. Euro 96 was the last time the country hosted major tournament matches which fans attended in their droves as the Three Lions made it all the way to the semi-finals.