Soccer-UEFA says no plan to take Euro semis, final away from Wembley

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Czech Republic Training - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - June 21, 2021 General view during training Pool via REUTERS/Matt Dunham

(Reuters) - UEFA has no plans to replace Wembley as host stadium of the Euro 2020 semi-finals and final, European soccer's governing body said, after Italian premier Mario Draghi and others called for the final to be moved from Britain due to rising COVID-19 cases there.

The United Kingdom recorded 10,633 new cases of COVID-19 and five deaths on Monday, taking its toll to 4.63 million confirmed cases and 127,976 total deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

Case numbers have been rising due to the spread of the more contagious Delta variant first identified in India.

UEFA said on Friday it had a contingency plan to take the final away from Wembley unless the UK agreed to exempt travelling foreign fans from 10-day quarantine rules.

"UEFA, the English FA and the English authorities are working closely together successfully to stage the semi-finals and final of EURO in Wembley and there are no plans to change the venue for those games," a UEFA spokesperson said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.

Wembley is scheduled to host the semi-finals on July 6 and 7 before the July 11 final.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on UEFA on Tuesday to act responsibly regarding plans to hold the final in London due to safety concerns over the spread of the virus there.

The European Union's top lawmaker on health issues echoed her comments.

"Our health is priority. The spread of the Delta variant makes it impossible for 40,000 spectators to view the final match in London's stadium," Peter Liese said.

Italian PM Draghi said on Monday that he was in favour of hosting the final in Rome, rather than in "a country where infections are rising quickly".

The Times newspaper reported on Friday that Budapest was the alternative venue being considered if Wembley was not able to accept travelling supporters.

Liese urged UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin not to consider Budapest, however, on the grounds that it has been allowing a full capacity crowd into its stadium. He called on Ceferin to choose another location for the final, based solely on public health criteria.

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak and Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin and Hugh Lawson)

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