Bilbao cannot allow spectators at Euro 2020, says Spanish soccer federation

A general view of San Mames stadium as the UEFA decides which venues will hold UEFA Euro Cup 2020 matches, in Bilbao, Spain, April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Vincent West

MADRID (Reuters) - Bilbao will be unable to hold Euro 2020 matches with spectators, the Spanish soccer federation has declared, endangering the city's chances of remaining as a host city for the rescheduled tournament.

Bilbao's city hall said earlier on Wednesday it had submitted a plan to organisers UEFA to have the San Mames stadium at 25% capacity for the four games at the tournament, as long as coronavirus rates dropped to levels accepted by the regional health authorities.

UEFA, whose president Aleksander Ceferin has stated host cities must allow fans at stadiums in order to hold matches, will analyse Bilbao's proposal along with the other 11 cities before making a final decision at a congress on April 20.

But the federation said the Basque government's conditions were "impossible to meet" in time for the start of tournament on June 11, also denying it had come to an agreement with the regional government.

"It's false that the federation has agreed these conditions with the Basque government, which are impossible to meet," said the federation's statement.

"Yesterday we received the requirements the Basque government imposed in order to have crowds at the European Championship and from the first instance one could see they would be impossible for the federation to accept."

The Basque government's conditions for opening the stadium at 25% capacity depended on transmission rates falling to below 40 cases per 100,000 regionally and nationally.

Regional hospital occupancy must be at below 8%, while national population immunity must be at least 60%.

As of Wednesday, the incidence stood at 351 cases per 100,000 in the region, 161 nationally.

"These objectives are impossible to meet and therefore will result in the absence of crowds," added the federation's statement, also saying it would not take any responsibility if UEFA decides to strip Bilbao of hosting rights.

The Basque government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the federation's statement.

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)

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