Dublin’s status as Euro 2020 hosts thrown into doubt due to lack of assurances

Jim van Wijk and Damian Spellman, PA
·6 min read

Dublin’s status as one of the Euro 2020 finals hosts has been thrown into doubt after the Football Association of Ireland was unable to provide assurances on minimum spectator levels.

The Aviva Stadium is due to stage three Group E games involving Slovakia, Poland and Sweden, and a last-16 tie.

However, the FAI, on the advice of the Irish Government, has informed governing body UEFA that it cannot provide an answer on fan numbers as it continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

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A statement said: “The Football Association of Ireland, on advice and guidance from the Government, has today notified UEFA that owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not in a position at this point to provide assurances on minimum spectator levels at the UEFA EURO 2020 matches due to be held in Dublin in June.

“In so doing, we have advised UEFA that the matter will be kept under review and that the Dublin LOS team, including Government, will continue to discuss all issues with UEFA on an ongoing basis.

“All partners of the Local Organising Structure – Government, the FAI, Aviva Stadium and Dublin City Council – recognise the challenges presented by spectator attendance at Aviva Stadium for the scheduled hosting of four matches at EURO 2020 this summer and that public health issues are the most important consideration in the organisation of the project.”

The news came as the 12 host cities were asked to provide proposals on spectator numbers by Wednesday.

The Aviva Stadium in Dublin is due to host four Euro 2020 matches
The Aviva Stadium in Dublin is currently set to host four Euro 2020 matches (Brian Lawless/PA)

FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill said: “We have made our submission to UEFA today and now await their response once submissions from all 12 host cities have been received and considered.”

Meanwhile the Spanish FA, the Real Federacion Espanola de Futbol, has indicated the games due to be played in Bilbao may have to take place behind closed doors after claiming the conditions imposed by the Basque Government are “impossible” to fulfil.

A RFEF statement read: “The requirement to have 60 per cent of the population vaccinated in the Basque Country and the rest of Spain before June 14, or a figure that does not exceed two per cent of the beds of the UCIS occupied by COVID [patients] by the date of the matches, they are impossible objectives to fulfil and will end, therefore, in the absence of public.”

The PA news agency understands that UEFA will allow host cities, including Dublin, London and Glasgow, to upscale plans for supporters to attend matches should conditions around the pandemic improve.

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The UK Government has announced plans for a number of test events – including a 21,000 crowd for the FA Cup final on May 15 – with a view to having Wembley full for at least some European Championship games.

Wembley will see England open their Group D campaign against Croatia on June 13, before then welcoming Scotland on June 18 followed by the Czech Republic.

The national stadium is also set to host one last-16 game as well as both the semi-finals and then final on July 11.

Hampden Park will see crowds of around 12,000 for its four fixtures – Scotland’s Group D fixtures against the Czech Republic and Croatia, who will also meet in Glasgow, and a last-16 match – after the Scottish Government approved plans for 25 per cent occupancy.

A statement from the Scottish FA and Glasgow Life said: “We are delighted that the Scottish Government has given approval to allow spectators up to 25 per cent of the stadium capacity (approximately 12,000 – based on the UEFA Euro 2020 venue overlay and seating configuration) for each of the four games to be staged at Hampden Park.

“Naturally, this will be subject to continued progress with reducing the prevalence of the virus and the roll-out of the vaccination programme.”

The Romanian Government too has confirmed it has approved plans to house 13,000 spectators at the National Arena in Bucharest.

Minister for youth and sport Eduard Novak said in a post on his Facebook account: “We have the historical chance to be part of a large sporting event and to demonstrate that we can honour our obligations to the highest standards of organization and health safety.”

Fans will be allowed into the Stadio Olimpico in Rome for the Euro 2020 finals
Fans will be allowed into the Stadio Olimpico in Rome for the Euro 2020 finals (Nick Potts/PA)

The Italian Football Federation said it had been told by the government that Rome’s Stadio Olimpico would be able to welcome spectators.

Following the submissions, a meeting will be held on Thursday of the EURO Steering Group, which consists of the 12 national associations and UEFA.

PA understands once hosts have submitted the scenarios, they will be allowed to come back to UEFA before April 28 with an increased view on how many supporters they could accommodate.

The governing body is understood not to be pushing the deadline back as such, but rather allowing venues to upscale if conditions around the coronavirus pandemic get better in the coming weeks.

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Ahead of Wednesday’s deadline, it was confirmed the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam would see at least 12,000 supporters attend under current proposals.

The Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) said this was based “on the assumption that at least 25 per cent of the stadium’s net capacity will be feasible”.

The KNVB added that all fans wanting to attend would “have to comply with the security protocols in place at the time and will only be granted access after presenting a negative test result”.

The Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg could host crowds of up to 50 per cent
The Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg could host crowds of up to 50 per cent (Tim Goode/PA)

Plans are also in place to see what increases to capacity might be feasible at later stages.

Amsterdam is set to host Group C games between Holland and Ukraine on June 13, as well as when the Dutch play Austria and North Macedonia, with a round-of-16 tie also scheduled on June 26.

Elsewhere, at least 11,000 supporters are expected to be able to attend the four Euro 2020 games in the Danish capital Copenhagen.

There could also be up to 50 per cent capacity at matches in St Petersburg, Russia which will host one of the quarter-finals as well as group matches.