The European Championship after a delay of a year is all set to kick off. Italy and Turkey will get the ball rolling of the 16th edition of the tournament in Rome. The Euro 2020 is going to be special because for the first time in the history of the tournament, it’ll be played all across the continent over 11 cities rather than in just one or two host countries. The idea was introduced by former UEFA chief Michel Platini almost a decade ago. He is not at the helm anymore but his idea was carried forward by his successor Aleksnder Ceferin and to his relief, governments across the continent have allowed limited crowds inside the stadium and with strict health restrictions in place.
The Italian government has allowed Rome’s Stadio Olimpico to be filled with 25 per cent of capacity, meaning 16,000 supporters will be present to watch Roberto Mancini’s Italy face Turkey in the first game in Group A. Most other stadiums are expected to fill about 25% of capacity, with Munich the lowest at 22% and some others possibly going as high as 45%. Hungary will allow the Puskas Arena to be filled with 68,000 fans, which is the full capacity.
When asked David James, former England, Liverpool and Manchester City goalkeeper, if this is the right time to host the tournament all over the continent, he said from his experience his visit to the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough, where England played Austria and Romania, he is hopeful of a safe tournament.
“I can only speak from an English perspective here because I haven’t been abroad. I went to the game in Middlesbrough, there are 8000 fans there, one of the prerequisites is that you supply the negative COVID certificate. Obviously, within the stadium there was social distancing adhered to,” he told News18.com.
All the social distancing protocols were being adhered to by the fans in and around… providing respective countries adheres to the social distancing and other COVID protocols, then why not?”
Meanwhile, England’s capital London will host eight matches — including two semi-finals and the final —the most by a city, is expected to have 25% capacity for the group stages which could be increased for the two semi-finals and the final.
“It is about safety, yeah football is a wonderful thing for us to watch and enjoy but at the same time it is about the safety of the people going to watch or in and around that community and from what I have seen at Wembley, so far those protocols are better than what the government has been recommending for.”
“With the final and semi-final here, which means teams will come in from major countries. I have been to Wembley several times now under COVID conditions and again the protocols there were ridiculously good.”
“It has been challenging to get football back in a position where it can be played but with the right procedures in place, hopefully, we get to spectate a wonderful tournament. If I can go one step further, hopefully as a English fan, we could be at the Wembley in the final with the English
scarf cheering on Jude Bellingham scoring the winning goal.” he added.
However, there is concerning news for the organisers, St. Petersburg, Russia’s former imperial capital has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent days. Russia’s second city has been selected to host seven matches including a quarter-final.
Watch UEFA EURO 2020 – LIVE on Sony Ten 2 (English) & Ten 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels from 11th June 2021