More than 60,000 fans will be allowed into Wembley for the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 after a deal was struck between the UK government and Uefa.
The biggest crowds at a British sporting event for 16 months are now in prospect, although details of who will be able to attend the matches, and how, remain unresolved.
Wembley is to be allowed to open up to 75% of its 90,000 capacity for the three games, scheduled to be played on 6, 7 and 11 July, respectively. It means there will be at least 35,000 extra tickets made available for the climax of the tournament. The government says it expects that priority of access will be given to UK residents who had their tickets cancelled when capacity was first cut due to the pandemic.
Wembley was granted an initial extension in capacity only last week, when the bar was raised from 22,500 to 45,000. Despite pausing the final stage of its proposed reopening due to a resurgence of Covid-19, the government said Wembley could hold bigger crowds during Euro 2020 as part of its “events research programme”. After a week in which rumours circulated that Uefa is willing to move the final to Budapest, where there are no restrictions on capacity, and after the mayor of Rome offered to host the match at the Olimpico, that capacity has risen again.
The World Health Organisation said on Tuesday it was “concerned about easing of restrictions in some of the host countries”. Robb Butler, an executive director at WHO’s Regional Office for Europe, told AFP that in some host cities “Covid-19 cases are already on the rise in the area where matches will be held”.
Meanwhile, officials at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) say discussions are ongoing over controversial requests from Uefa that VIPs, sponsors and broadcast partners be allowed to travel to the final without the need to quarantine.
There are similar discussions over whether, and how, to allow overseas fans into the country for the latter stages. This week, Uefa proposed that fans should be able to travel into the country in 24-hour “bubbles”, where fans’ movements would be restricted to “approved transport and venues only”.
The culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: “We are thrilled that more fans will now be able to walk through the Wembley turnstiles and enjoy the finals of Euro 2020. As we continue to make progress on our roadmap out of lockdown, keeping the public safe remains our top priority. We have worked extremely closely with Uefa and the FA to ensure rigorous and tight public health measures are in place whilst allowing more fans to see the action live.”
The president of Uefa, Aleksander Ceferin, said: “I am grateful to the prime minister and the UK government for their hard work in finalising these arrangements with us, to make the tournament final stages a great success in Wembley.”