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Euro 2021: Seville takes over from Bilbao, St Petersburg and London replace Dublin

by: Adam Smith

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UEFA said on Friday that it was pleased to be able to “guarantee a safe and festive environment”, which will see spectators being able to attend “all the matches”. However, there is still some doubt as to whether Munich will host any matches or not.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) ruled out Bilbao and Dublin as host cities for the Euro, which will be held from June 11 to July 11, on Friday, April 23, due to a lack of guarantees on the number of spectators, reassigning the games in the Basque country to Seville and splitting those in Dublin between St. Petersburg and London.

 

The tournament, which had already been postponed for a year because of the pandemic, will finally be held in eleven cities across eleven countries: Munich, which had been in the spotlight, has been confirmed as the venue for the Germany-France clash on June 15, while Baku, Rome, Bucharest, Glasgow, Copenhagen, Budapest and Amsterdam were still in doubt.

 

Conceived by former UEFA president Michel Platini, this unprecedented pan-European format was initially to be held in 13 cities in 13 countries, then 12 after Brussels was ousted at the end of 2017 in the face of obstacles to the construction of its large stadium.

 

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin was pleased to be able to “guarantee a safe and festive environment” with spectators “at all matches,” a requirement set by the body back in March despite the health crisis.

 

“There is a little work ahead of us, we start again – camp, travel, all the logistics,” tweeted the Polish Zbigniew Boniek, vice president of UEFA, even before the official decision.

 

Imbroglio around the case of Munich

 

St. Petersburg, which was already among the host cities, will therefore recover three new matches of the first round, Poland-Slovakia, Sweden-Slovakia and Sweden-Poland. “Today, we are assuming 50% [of spectators]. This is the limit confirmed by UEFA. If there is a possibility to change, it will be an increase”, underlined on Friday in the newspaper Sport-Express the president of the Russian organizing committee, Alexe├» Sorokine.

 

On its side, London will take back the eighth final programmed in Dublin, which will be added to the seven matches that the British capital had to welcome in the mythical Wembley stadium, including the semi-finals and the final.

 

Not foreseen in the initial organization, Seville was for several days the solution favored by the Spanish federation to resume the four games scheduled in Bilbao, excluded Wednesday by UEFA for having set too drastic sanitary conditions to the reception of the public. Faced with this “unilateral” decision, the Basque organizers have made it known that they plan to take the authority to court 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 “a minimum of 14,500 spectators,” UEFA said in a statement on Friday. But a few minutes after the announcement, the president of the German Football Association said something different: “We are looking forward [to hosting matches in Munich],” he said, “perhaps even in front of an audience… if the development of the pandemic allows it. “A position that was supported by the mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, in the afternoon: “A week ago I could not say whether there would be spectators, or how many. I can hardly say that anymore today; there have been no promises of any kind so far to guarantee the reception of spectators. “