Unless Britain agrees to exempt travelling foreign fans from 10-day quarantine requirements, UEFA has a contingency plan to replace Wembley as the host venue for the Euro 2020 final, the European soccer governing body said on Friday. Since the UK government postponed plans to lift COVID-19 restrictions on June 21 because of the rapid spread of the more infectious Delta form, tournament organisers have been in talks with the UK government.
On July 11, the London Stadium will host the competition’s final, as well as both semi-finals, which will take place over the preceding days in 12 locations across Europe. “There is always a contingency plan but we are confident that the final week will be held in London,” UEFA said in a statement. If Wembley Stadium is unable to accommodate travelling fans, the Times newspaper said on Friday that Budapest is being explored as an alternative venue.
A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We continue to look forward to hosting the semi-final and the final here at Wembley.”
While it would be surprising if UEFA took the unprecedented step of changing a major final at this late stage, Budapest is hosting four Euro 2020 games in full stadiums, with tickets sold to vaccinated Hungarians and visitors with proof of negative COVID-19 tests. Last season, when coronavirus limitations caused problems elsewhere, the Hungarian capital offered itself as an emergency host for a handful of Champions League matches.
UEFA said it was in talks with London authorities about allowing fans of participating teams to attend matches “using a tight testing and bubble concept that would limit their stay in the UK to less than 24 hours and restrict their movements to designated transit and venues only.”
UEFA stated that it was aware of the pressures that the UK government was under. It hoped that talks would come to a “good conclusion” and expressed delight that Wembley’s capacity will be increased to at least 50% for the knockout round matches.
Fans from countries on the government’s amber list are required to quarantine for ten days upon arrival in England, making it difficult for them to fly in for games. Except for Turkey, which is on the tougher red list, all other competing countries are on the amber list, except the three British teams — England, Scotland, and Wales. Those travelling from countries on the red list must stay in a controlled quarantine hotel for ten days.
The UK government has decided to raise capacity at Wembley Stadium by 50% for the knockout stage, allowing for crowds of 40,000 instead of the 22,500 allowed in the group stage. Wembley will also host two round-of-16 matches, the second of which will be held on June 29th and will be half-full.
In addition to allowing foreign fans access, UEFA wants sponsors and VIPs from outside the UK to avoid quarantine.