Goodbye Bilbao and Dublin, hello Seville: with less than two months of Euro football, UEFA finally completed the list of its host cities on Friday. Munich, which was also in the hot seat, finally promised to receive the public and keeps the four meetings planned in Bavaria, including the Germany-France shock expected from the hens on June 15.
Imagined by former UEFA president Michel Platini, this unprecedented pan-European format was initially to be held in thirteen cities in thirteen countries, then twelve after the eviction of Brussels at the end of 2017 in the face of obstacles to the construction of its large stadium.
Postponed for a year due to the health crisis, and scheduled from June 11 to July 11, the Euro remained surrounded by an unprecedented vagueness: by requiring in mid-March that each meeting be held in public, UEFA still has complicated its organization.
And after having granted several reprieve, the executive committee of the body finally excluded Bilbao and Dublin from the host cities, for lack of guarantees on the reception of spectators, reallocating to Seville the matches planned in the Basque Country and sharing those of Dublin between Saint Petersburg and London.
End of an uncertainty of several months
“We have worked hard with the host associations and local authorities to ensure a safe and festive environment for the matches,” said UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, promising a “great football party. “.
The refusal to organize the Euro matches in front of empty stands contrasts with the great caution of the organizers of the Olympic Games (23 July-8 August), the other big event of the summer, which pushed back to June the time to fix the gauges of each enclosure and have already banned foreign spectators.
A few weeks before the event, the race against time is also starting for the teams involved, supporters and the media, in uncertainty for months, and who will still have to deal with travel restrictions and quarantines. “There is a little work ahead of us, we are starting again – camp, travel, all the logistics”, admitted on Twitter the Polish Zbigniew Boniek, vice-president of UEFA, even before the official decision.
In detail, Saint Petersburg, which was already among the host cities, will therefore recover three new matches in the first round, namely Poland-Slovakia, Sweden-Slovakia and Sweden-Poland. “Today, we are starting on 50% (of spectators, editor’s note). This is the limit confirmed by UEFA. If there is the possibility of changing, it will be an increase ”, underlined Friday in the newspaper Sport-Express the president of the Russian organization committee, Alexeï Sorokine.
Seville instead of Bilbao
For its part, London will resume the round of 16 scheduled in Dublin, which will be added to the seven meetings that the British capital was to host in the legendary Wembley Stadium, including the semi-finals and the final.
Not provided for in the initial organization, Seville had for several days been the preferred solution for the Spanish federation to resume the four meetings scheduled in Bilbao, excluded Wednesday by UEFA for having set too drastic sanitary conditions for the reception of the public.
Faced with this “unilateral” decision, the Basque organizers have indicated that they plan to take legal action to recover the expenses of 1.2 million euros already incurred.
For several weeks already, Budapest, Saint Petersburg, Baku, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Glasgow, Copenhagen, Rome and London had all promised gauges between 25% and 100%. Munich will host for its part “14,500 spectators at least” per match, and Seville “30% of the capacity” of its stadium, said Friday the UEFA.
The other dossier on the menu was the ephemeral Super League, launched by twelve dissident clubs to supplant the Champions League and then abandoned in 48 hours under popular and political pressure: UEFA confined itself to examining its “options” on Friday. , without further details on the possible sanctions envisaged.