UEFA president does not see a repeat of Euro 2020 finals format

·3-min read

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says he would not support holding the Euros across the continent again, saying: “It is not fair to the fans.”

The idea to stage what should have been the 60th anniversary finals all over Europe is credited to Ceferin’s predecessor Michel Platini, with the decision confirmed in December 2012.

Even without the added logistical and public health difficulties associated with the coronavirus pandemic, the tournament would have been a tough ask for fans and players alike, and Ceferin is clearly not keen on a repeat.

“I would not support it any more,” he told the BBC’s Sports Desk podcast.

Only a small group of Wales fans were able to watch their side's last-16 match against Denmark in Amsterdam due to coronavirus travel restrictions
Only a small group of Wales fans were able to watch their side’s last-16 match against Denmark in Amsterdam due to coronavirus travel restrictions (PA)

“I think it’s too challenging. It’s in a way not correct that some teams have to travel more than 10,000 kilometres and the others 1,000 for example.

“It’s not fair to the fans. Some fans had to be in Rome and the next day or in a couple of days they had to be in Baku, a four and a half hour flight.

“So it’s a difficult one, it’s an interesting idea but hard to implement and I don’t think we will do it again.”

The 2024 Euros will be held in Germany.

The tournament has been linked with an increase in Covid-19 cases, but Ceferin insisted no one had shown him any definitive proof of that.

Figures published by Public Health Scotland (PHS) last month showed 1,991 residents who later had a laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis were in their transmission period while at gatherings related to the tournament between June 11 and 28.

Nearly two-thirds of cases – or 1,294 people – reported travelling to London at around the time of the Euro 2020 group match against England on June 18, with 397 going inside Wembley for the game.

Scotland fans gathered in London's Leicester Square before the match against England
Scotland fans gathered in London’s Leicester Square before the match against England (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

Germany’s interior minister Horst Seehofer also said it was “irresponsible” to allow more than 40,000 fans into Wembley for his country’s last-16 match against England. The semi-final between England and Denmark was attended by well over 60,000 people.

Ceferin said: “When I see some politicians saying that people were infected at the matches, without any proof for that, it disappoints me a bit although I’m used to many things with politicians these days.

“I didn’t see any proof that there’s a link. For example, some said 2,000 Scottish fans were infected.

“Some Scottish fans went to the match – those were tested, and around 20,000 came to London without tickets and you are not tested when you go to a pub, you are not tested when you go anywhere else, and to simplistically just accuse football or governments of spreading the virus is irresponsible in my opinion.”

Ceferin also defended UEFA’s decision to decline a request to light up Munich’s Allianz Arena for the Euro match between Germany and Hungary in rainbow colours in protest at legislation which was seen as discriminatory towards the LGBTQ+ community in Hungary.

“I don’t see any controversy,” the Slovenian said.

“My personal opinion on human rights and diversity, and the opinion of UEFA, is clear. Our Equal Game campaign is clear.

“There was a request to light the stadium in the rainbow colours as a protest against a government of a country in Europe and against a parliament of a country in Europe.

“UEFA is an organisation where, by statutes, we cannot engage into politics. We cannot protest against governments – any government. We will not be dragged into any political fight.

“We will not allow, I will not allow, that UEFA will be a tool in the hands of a politician. But our position is clear, and we showed it many times and we will show it in the future even more.”

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