Senior EU official questions Wembley hosting of Euro semis, final

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European soccer body UEFA needs to consider "very carefully" whether the semi-finals and final of the European Championship should be held in Britain, which is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 infections, a senior EU official said on Tuesday.

London's Wembley stadium is set to host the semi-finals on July 6 and 7 and the final on July 11, with more than 60,000 fans - 75% of capacity - while the highly transmissible Delta variant of coronavirus has driven a spike in infections.

"There will be lots of people and the idea of a full stadium at the moment (that) we are so worried about the Delta variant is so present in itself gives a message that UEFA needs to assess carefully," European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas told a news conference.

Schinas, who oversees EU public health policy, said there was an "asymmetry" to be considered with Britain imposing restrictions on its citizens travelling to the European Union, while preparing to accept a "massive presence" of EU visitors.

All ticket holders will need to have either a negative COVID-19 test or proof of full vaccination. It is not clear if Britain will ease restrictions, in most cases a 10-day quarantine requirement, for visiting fans.

"I think these objective considerations should make UEFA consider very carefully the situation of the semi-finals and the final," Schinas said.

"And I feel in very good company in saying that because I saw that Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Draghi and many members of the European Parliament share the same concerns," he continued.

Schinas said that the issue was not one on which the European Commission could decide and that fellow commissioners had not discussed the topic.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Hugh Lawson)