Pandemic Will Impact Euro 2020

How the Pandemic Will Impact This Year’s European Championships

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When Euro 2020 was first planned, it was meant to be a unique football event and perhaps the best Europe had ever seen.

Usually, each tournament takes place in a single country or occasionally co-hosted by neighbours, but rarely has something as ambitious as Euro 2020 been planned. Twenty-four teams were set to play across 12 host cities, including Baku, London, Rome and Seville, in a show of solidarity in the face of Brexit and other troubling European political situations. Preparations were made for the big kick-off in June 2020, but courtesy of the pandemic, things changed quickly.

As major sporting events fell foul of the situation, Euro 2020 was put back by a year. Even with the benefit of 12 months, the tournament that is currently underway is markedly different to the one fans expected. So, just what impact has the pandemic had on Euro 2020, and how will it differ from tournaments of the past?

Even before a ball was kicked, the effects of the pandemic were being felt across the teams. The Times of India explains how Spain suffered an outbreak of the virus in their camp, which led to two players being temporarily removed from the squad. They even had to name a parallel squad of 17 players to step up if the outbreak had spread across the rest of their players. Thankfully it didn’t, but they still had to kick off the tournament without captain Sergio Busquets, a significant blow after leaving the usual captain, Sergio Ramos, out of the squad.

The other significant impact will be felt in certain stadiums, although there is no parity between different venues. For instance, Budapest’s Puskas Arena will be packed to capacity, but it is very much alone in that respect. Of the other 11 venues, all will have restrictions on the number of supporters that can enter. Copenhagen will allow 25,000 fans into the stadium and lift rules on wearing face masks. In Munich, just 14,500 supporters will be allowed into the Allianz Arena, just 22% of the capacity, for fixtures held there.

Those cities were the lucky ones, able to get restrictions lifted to allow the tournament’s games to go ahead. Dublin and Bilboa were both scheduled to host games in what would have been an economic boost for the cities, but neither could safely fulfil UEFA’s demands on the number of fans being allowed entry to the grounds and so both were struck off the list.

France, the pre-tournament favourites with Bwin’s Euro 2020 betting odds, are also not hosting games after hosting Euro 2016. That does bode well on the field for Les Bleus: a host nation hasn’t won the competition since 1984 when, ironically, France won it on home soil. After losing out in the final in Paris in 2016, they will be hoping the unrest faced by teams will work in their favour without the pressure of home advantage. As for travelling between games, players have been given special dispensation not to have to isolate when crossing borders, but supporters could find their experience severely impacted.

Travel between countries is also tricky, so for many matches, there will be no away fans in the stadiums and possibly not even supporters from either nation. London will host the last 16 matches between the winner of group D and runner up in Group F, which could be Croatia against Portugal, but both teams are on the amber list for travel into the United Kingdom. That means visitors must isolate themselves for ten days after arriving in the country, but the teams involved in the game will only find out six days before the scheduled encounter.

Euro 2020 will still be a celebration, one in the face of adversity caused by the pandemic. It is seen as a triumph over the pandemic and political unrest, but that only tells half the story. Whilst the organisers and fans toast things ‘getting back to normal’, Euro 2020 will be anything but that.

Also Read: Coronavirus Hoax: Addressing the pandemic of misinformation



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