Soccer

German official calls UEFA ‘irresponsible’ for giving EURO 2020 Finals to the UK

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 19: Serge Gnabry of Germany celebrates with his team mates after scoring his team's third goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at Commerzbank Arena on November 19, 2019 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Following Germany’s exit out of EURO 2020, the country’s interior minister Horst Seehofer criticized UEFA for giving the UK hosting rights for the tournament’s semifinals and final.

Despite COVID running rampant in many parts of the world, England lifted many restrictions prior to the tournament. Seehofer had the following to say about UEFA’s choice.

“I suspect that once again it’s all about commercial [interests]. But commercial interests should not override the need to protect people from infections. We are in a pandemic and precisely in countries like Great Britain we�re seeing a sharp increase in infections”

Horst Seehofer

Germany recently lost to England in the round of 16 in a game marked by arguably the tournament’s best atmosphere. London’s famed Wembley Stadium hosted the matchup.

During the match, almost 40,000 fans crowded the stadium. In normal times Wembley hosts nearly 90,000. Despite the seemingly reduced capacity, crowds still congregated and raised concerns about the virus’s spread. In Germany’s EURO 2020 matches, just 14,000 fans attended games in Munich’s Allianz Arena. That stadium usually houses over 75,000, making Germany’s crowd restrictions much tighter.

Prior to the matchup, Germany’s Robin Gosens even called the fan situation “far from optimal.”

UEFA’s medical adviser for EURO 2020, David Koch, responded addressing Seehofer’s concerns.

“The intensive vaccination campaigns that have been rolled out across Europe and the border controls will help ensure that no new big wave will start in Europe and put pressure on the respective health systems, as was the case during the previous infection waves.”

David Koch

The UK followed the trend of many European nations last year by not allowing fans inside stadiums for teams’ domestic campaigns. However, by the season’s end, fans graced stadiums again in limited capacities. Even the Premier League plans to have full stadiums by August.

Previously, UEFA threatened potentially moving matches away from the UK as travel exemptions for foreigners seemed unlikely. In response, the UK government handed out exemptions to retain the matches.

With the ongoing ‘delta variant’ of the virus, fans’ future in stadiums is unclear. At the time, matches are set to continue at Wembley, capped at a 40,000 fan limit as England seeks to “bring football home.”

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