UEFA made a “wrong call” by insisting that Euro 2020 matches are played before a live crowd, said Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin. The football body previously stripped Dublin of hosting rights.
After UEFA stripped Ireland of its hosting rights for the delayed 2020 European Football Championship, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said the requests made by the football body were not realistic.
UEFA has insisted that the games be played before a live audience. Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the organization asked the officials in host countries to guarantee that fans would be allowed to fill the stadiums by at least 25% of their full capacity. The Irish government rejected this request.
“I thought UEFA were out of order, quite frankly, putting that condition on countries,” the Irish leader told RTE television on Sunday.
“I never thought it was a realistic proposition,” he said.
Who else is opposed to UEFA’s terms?
The delayed tournament is set to start on June 11. With Ireland out as a host country, the games are to be played in 11 other European states. The matches originally set to be played in Dublin will now be moved to London and St Petersburg.
UEFA has also clashed with the Basque regional government in Spain and moved four matches from Bilbao to Seville. Although Munich failed to provide the required guarantees, the organizer decided not to strip the German city of its hosting rights.
Why is Ireland worried?
On Sunday, Martin said it was a “wrong call” to force the viewers into stadiums prematurely. He pointed to the newly discovered variant of the coronavirus in India and the high infection rate across the European continent.
Ireland is currently in its third lockdown and can boast one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in Europe. While the country was gradually lifting lockdown restrictions, it was “not going too far ahead of ourselves” with staging large sporting events, according to the politician.
What is UEFA’s stance?
UEFA has previously pledged that every Euro 2020 match would be played in “a safe and festive environment.” According to its leader, Aleksander Ceferin, the push for live audiences was because fans should be able to “attend the games after a year of not being able to watch live football in-stadium.”
Budapest, St Petersburg, Baku, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Glasgow, Copenhagen, Rome and London have all complied with the request, promising to allow between 25% and 100% of stadium capacity for the monthlong tournament.
dj/mm (Reuters, AFP, DW)