BRUSSELS has demanded that Uefa rethinks its plans to host the Euro 2020 semi-finals and final at Wembley amid fears of the Delta variant of coronavirus.
Top Eurocrat Margaritas Schinas called for the three matches to be shifted elsewhere in Europe. The EU Commissioner, who is responsible for “Protecting the European way of life”, also bemoaned the current travel restrictions enforced on people arriving in the UK. Mr Schinas told the European Parliament that he could not “personally” see the sense of the semi-finals on July 6 and 7 and the July 11 final being hosted in London.
He said: “I want to share my doubts about the possibility of organising the final and semi-finals at Wembley, in a packed stadium, at a time that the United Kingdom itself is limiting its citizens’ travel to the European Union.
“I think Uefa needs to carefully analyse this decision… a decision that needs to be taken with full knowledge of the facts”
The Government last week announced that the crowd capacity at Wembley will be raised to more than 60,000 for the contests.
Meanwhile, the UK is still grappling with an uptick in cases fuelled by the Delta variant, which originated in India and is now dominant in Britain.
Downing Street has rejected any suggestion that the climax of the European Championships should be hosted anywhere but London.
Mr Schinas conceded the EU has no real powers to interfere in the European Championship’s schedule.
Uefa has already rejected calls from Italian PM Mario Draghi to move the final abroad to curb the spread of Covid variants.
British restrictions mean all EU regions apart from the Balearic Islands and Malta are on the amber list, requiring UK visitors to test and quarantine on their return.
Asked about Mr Schinas’ comments, the Commission suggest it wasn’t an official position that the semi-finals and final should be moved away from Wembley.
A spokesman added: “What is very important to take into account is that we are in a situation where we have a virus and there are these variants out there.
“We have to be extremely careful with this variant, with the transmission of this variant and it’s very important in this context that we bear in mind the different guidance that is out there with regard to the organisation of events, putting people together.
“It’s very important that member states, who are in the end obviously responsible for the organisation of social events, bear in mind these very important recommendations.”
VIPs attending the semi-finals and final at Wembley will be exempt from rules on self-isolation and hotel quarantine, under a deal struck between Downing Street and Uefa.
Travel restrictions will be dropped for thousands of Uefa officials, sponsors and politicians who are expected to visit for the final three games of the tournament.
Germany has lashed out at Boris Johnson over the plans to bump up stadium numbers for the semi-finals and final at Wembley.
Its interior minister urged the Prime Minister to follow Munich’s lead and only let 20 percent of the stadium be filled up.
Horst Seehofer said: “I think it’s irresponsible for tens of thousands to gather in close proximity.”