German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have raised concerns about holding the Euro 2020 finals in the United Kingdom in the wake of fears of the spread of the Corona virus delta.
The UK government announced on Tuesday that it had agreed a deal with UEFA, European football’s governing body, to keep the competition’s final and semi-finals continental. At Wembley Stadium, London As planned.
But Merkel’s and Draghi’s interventions threatened to turn the decision into a diplomatic incident, with the two leaders highlighting concerns about the rise of variable delta, which was first documented in India.
“Great Britain is a country with a mutated virus spread, so everyone traveling to the UK will have to go into a 14-day quarantine upon return,” Merkel said.
“There are very few exceptions to this… I hope UEFA will act responsibly in this regard. I don’t think it’s good that the stadiums there are full.”
The Champions League match in Milan in February 2020 between Valencia and Atalanta was widely blamed for contributing to the spread of the virus in Italy at the start of the pandemic.
In response to a question during a press conference in Berlin whether he supports moving the final to Rome, Draghi said: “I will work to achieve this in a country where new infections with the Corona virus are not increasing.”
An Italian government spokesman said Draghi was more concerned about monitoring the level of infections in the UK, rather than promoting the event to be moved to the Italian capital.
The increasing cases of the delta variant in the UK prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to extend restrictions on mass gatherings in England beyond June 21, the due date for all coronavirus-related restrictions to be lifted.
But choosing a safe alternative location for matches will be difficult. The highly transmissible variant is rapidly gaining traction in Italy, Germany and across Europe, which could reflect declining case rates in the coming weeks.
UEFA said last week it had put in place an “contingency plan” to move matches due to concerns about the UK’s quarantine restrictions on travelers abroad.
Negotiations with the UK government in recent days have led to a compromise. A total of 60,000 spectators will be allowed in the final three matches of the tournament, up from 22,500 spectators were allowed to attend matches at Wembley this month.
But people close to the talks said the agreement would limit the numbers of fans abroad, while allowing 2,500 VIPs to attend if they remain in a “bubble” and leave the UK within 24 hours of their arrival.
The UK government said the plan means residents of the country will be “at the front of the waiting list” for new tickets that are on sale.
“The finals promise to be an unforgettable moment in our national recovery from the pandemic,” said Oliver Dowden, Britain’s culture minister.