Euro 2020: organizing the semi-finals and the final in London is the “recipe for disaster”. Is football – and the Covid-19 peak – coming home?


“Harry Kane has finally scored!” he said, referring to the England captain’s first goal at Euro 2020.

After England’s quarter-final victory over Ukraine on Saturday, the whole debate among English fans is whether football is ‘coming home’, the refrain of ‘Three Lions’, the anthem adopted by team supporters. England face Denmark in the semi-final on Wednesday, while Italy face Spain on Tuesday.

More than 60,000 fans will be allowed to attend the semi-finals and the final under the UK government’s roadmap to allow large crowds at events without social distancing.

Fans will need to follow strict guidelines to attend the games, including having a negative Covid-19 test or full proof of vaccination.

Harry Kane celebrates after scoring a goal to bring the score to 2-0 against Germany at Euro 2020.
Despite these demands, staging three of this year’s biggest football matches has come under intense scrutiny – both at home and abroad – as the UK has signaled its most large number of new cases of Covid-19 since the end of January, with 27,989 on Thursday, according to Data from Public Health England.

“Weekly cases in England have increased by 74% from the previous seven days, while the number of people admitted to hospitals in England with Covid-19 has increased by 55% over the past week,” said the British Medical Association in a press release on Saturday.

However, the death toll remains low, which the UK government attributes to the effectiveness of vaccines against serious illness and hospitalizations. There was 18 deaths in the UK on Saturday versus 1,245 on January 29.

Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East rose 10% last week, World Health Organization regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge said Thursday, during a press briefing in Copenhagen.

A 10-week drop in the number of Covid-19 cases in the 53-country region “has come to an end,” Kluge said, with an increase in cases due to increased socialization, travel, gatherings and l relaxation of restrictions.

Kluge said the situation was “evolving rapidly” and warned that the Delta variant – first identified in India – was spreading at a rapid rate, leading to increased hospitalizations and deaths.

An English supporter waves a flag before the start of the Euro 2020 game between England and Germany.
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French MEP Pascal Canfin urges UEFA and UK authorities to reconsider hosting the semi-finals and final at Wembley, calling decision to increase stadium capacity a “recipe for disaster” in letter addressed to the President of the European Parliament.

The letter says that the latest threat assessment from the European Union’s health agency has demonstrated the danger the Delta variant “poses to health and safety and to the relaxation of restrictions for citizens of the United States. EU “.

He also noted that the agency’s analysis showed the Delta variant to be 40-60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, first identified in the UK.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi had previously warned of the impact of England’s hosting of the championship final.

Draghi expressed his opposition to the Euro 2020 final which takes place in London “where contagions are increasing rapidly” on June 21.

Fans leave Wembley Stadium after England's 2-0 win over Germany.
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Events beyond the stadiums

Despite these concerns, a UEFA spokesperson told CNN on Friday that he had no plans to change his game schedule.

“The mitigation measures implemented at each of the UEFA Euro 2020 host venues are fully aligned with regulations established by the relevant local public health authorities.

“Final decisions regarding the number of supporters attending matches and the conditions for entry into any of the host countries and host stadiums are the responsibility of the relevant local authorities, and UEFA strictly follows these measures.”

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Catherine Smallwood, senior health emergency officer for the World Health Organization, said: “We have to look far beyond the stadiums themselves.

“What we need to look at is around the stadiums – how do people get there? Do they travel in large, crowded bus convoys? Do they take individual action when they do?

Smallwood then asked what would happen after fans left the stadiums and went to “crowded bars and pubs to watch the games,” suggesting that when people socialize with others, “there will be case”.

UEFA’s medical adviser for Euro 2020, Dr Daniel Koch, has admitted that an increase in Covid-19 cases could be linked to fan gatherings.

“It cannot be completely ruled out that events and gatherings may ultimately lead to a local increase in the number of cases, but this would not only apply to football matches, but also to all kinds of situations now permitted in the framework of the flexibility measures decided by the competent local authorities.

He added that the vaccination programs implemented across Europe “will help ensure that no new big waves start in Europe and put pressure on the respective health systems, as happened during the waves of health. ‘previous infections’.

Scottish fans arrive at King's Cross station in London ahead of their match against England.
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Public security

Last week, the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare said positive cases in Finland had nearly doubled within a week, “largely due to the return of football fans from Russia. “after the Euro 2020 matches.

Finland played their Euro 2020 Group B match against Russia on June 16 in St. Petersburg.

The agency said 947 new cases were confirmed in the country between June 21 and June 27.

Official figures showed Russia recorded 679 new coronavirus deaths on Friday – the highest number of pandemic-related deaths in one day for the fourth day in a row.

Moscow and St. Petersburg suffer the highest infection rates, far surpassing the country as a whole, according to the head of the Russian health watchdog Anna Popova. The watchdog did not say whether the peak in St. Petersburg was linked to Euro 2020.

In Scotland, nearly 2,000 new cases of coronavirus have been linked to Euro 2020-related events surrounding the Group D game with England on June 18, according to a report from Public Health Scotland.

The British government has been accused of mismanaging the crisis at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and the organization of the Euro 2020 semi-finals and finals puts Johnson even more under the microscope.

Goalkeepers work on the grass at Wembley Stadium after a match.
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When asked if public health had been put at risk while hosting the games, a spokesperson for the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told CNN: “Safety public is our top priority and strict entry requirements are in place. “

He noted that supporters who did not present proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test would be refused entry, adding that spot checks would also be carried out by the Football Association.

UEFA Euro 2020 stadium rules state that face covers must be worn at the stadium entrance and in all interior areas, but masks can be removed when seated facing the pitch.

Football could return to England, but there is evidence to suggest it could also be accompanied by a slight increase in Covid-19 cases across the UK.

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