Dublin in doubt as Euro 2020 host city


Soccer Football - Women's Champions League - Quarter Final - Atletico Madrid v FC Barcelona - San Mames, Bilbao, Spain - August 21, 2020 General view inside the stadium before the match. Javier Soriano/Pool via REUTERS

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Dublin's plans to host Euro 2020 games look in serious doubt after the Football Association of Ireland was unable to give organisers UEFA a commitment that fans will be able to attend.

European soccer's governing body asked all 12 host cities to come up with their plans by Wednesday for fan capacity at venues for the tournament which kicks off on June 11.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has said that all host cities must guarantee some fan presence, saying they will not play games behind closed doors, although the COVID-19 pandemic has made it tough for organisers to give definitive commitments.

"The Football Association of Ireland, on advice and guidance from the Government, has today notified UEFA that owing to the COVID-19 pandemic it is not in a position at this point to provide assurances on minimum spectator levels at the UEFA EURO 2020 matches due to be held in Dublin in June," the FAI said in a statement.

Euro 2020 was postponed by a year due to the pandemic and most of Europe's football has taken place without fans for the past year.

Dublin was scheduled to host three group games and a last-16 match.

A final decision on the venues is expected at UEFA's congress on April 20.

FAI Chief Executive Jonathan Hill said: “We have made our submission to UEFA today and now await their response once submissions from all 12 host cities have been received and considered."

Italy's Football Federation had been hopeful of being able to have supporters in Rome's Olympic Stadium but on Wednesday minutes of a government panel meeting noted it was not possible to confirm that at this stage.

The panel of COVID experts said they would review the issue in the coming weeks.

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) said on Wednesday it has been given approval from the Scottish government for around 12,000 fans to attend Euro 2020 games at Hampden Park, 25% of the ground's capacity.

The SFA submitted its preferred option to UEFA ahead of Wednesday's deadline but said it was subject to continued progress with reducing levels of the virus and the rollout of the vaccination programme.

Amsterdam and Bilbao were able to make stronger commitments to allowing fans to attend games.

The Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) said that "at least 12,000 spectators" will be able to attend matches at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam.

"Depending on developments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in June, there is a chance that more fans will be allowed inside the stadium," the KNVB said in a statement.

NEGATIVE TEST

All spectators will need to test negative for COVID-19 shortly before the game, and will have to adhere to strict safety protocols inside the stadium.

Bilbao's city hall has told organisers UEFA it is ready to stage Euro 2020 games at the San Mames stadium at 25% capacity if coronavirus infection rates drop below current levels.

The move means around 13,000 supporters could attend matches as long as infection rates and hospital occupancy levels are below the minimum requirements set out by the local health authority.

Spain are due to play all three group matches at the 53,000-capacity San Mames, which is also set to host a last-16 match.

Wembley Stadium in London will host the semi-finals and the final, as well as group stage games. The UK government's roadmap allows for fans to be present in smaller numbers in the early stages but foresees a lifting of restrictions on large events after June 21, opening up the possibility of larger crowds.

(Additional reporting by Bart Meijer in Amsterdam,; Editing by Christian Radnedge, Ed Osmond and Toby Davis)

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