Hungary's Puskas Arena is reportedly the first option should Wembley not host the semi-finals and the final.
Sources in UEFA have not ruled out the possibility of shifting the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 from England’s iconic Wembley Stadium should overseas fans and VIPs be exempted from strict quarantine measures. The footballing body released a statement on Friday stating that they are confident about going ahead with the finals week in the English capital, but have contingency plans in place in case the situation changes. Hungary capital Budapest is reportedly the first option should Wembley not host the games. Matches at the Puskas Arena in Budapest have the permission to be played with 100% capacity. It would be a big step for UEFA, especially after such a devastating pandemic, to hold the final of the Euros in front of a packed house.
The statement released by UEFA suggested that it might be feasible to allow overseas spectators for the finals week in Wembley if a method similar to the one used in the final of the UEFA Champions League was used. Back then, fans had flown in and out of Portugal (the venue for the final match) within 24 hours. Nothing has been decided regarding the matter as of yet.
“At the moment, we are in discussions with the local authorities to try to allow fans of the participating teams to attend the matches, using a strict testing and bubble concept that would mean their stay in the UK would be less than 24 hours and their movements would be restricted to approved transport and venues only,” the UEFA statement read.
“We understand the pressures that the (British) Government face and hope to be able to reach a satisfactory conclusion of our discussions on the matter,” it continued.
The UK sports ministry declined to comment on the UEFA statement, but it is understood that the ministers and officials are looking to ensure safety and security during the matches to the players, staff, and fans, and are also in discussions with UEFA regarding the matter.
Reportedly, UEFA is looking for a different arrangement for VIPs and sponsors to keep them safe from the virus. A ‘bubble to bubble’ concept, similar to the one in place for overseas media personnel is being considered. In this, the individuals would travel only between designated locations. For example, from the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to the stadium. They would not be allowed to venture anywhere else. This would decrease the risk of infection, UEFA believes.
On Monday, the British government confirmed that the semi-finals and finals of Euro 2020 could be played in front of up to 40,000 fans if the situation allowed it. It was a slightly contradictory announcement considering that the government recently delayed easing the restrictive measures due to the pandemic.
The matches are also supposedly part of the British government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) which has been going on since April and has been used to test the different ways to get fans back into venues without the need for social distancing.