Munich – UEFA’s plans for the 2021 European Football Championship could be shaken. The umbrella organization’s wish to host the pan-European tournament in the same twelve venues as planned next year threatens to burst.
According to media reports, there are problems with the new date in several cities. There is still no final commitment to UEFA from Munich, Germany’s only venue. “After the postponement of the European Football Championship EURO 2020 to the year 2021, the further course of action of the state capital Munich is currently being examined within the city,” said the responsible sports department.
It remains to be seen whether there will be any doubts about a new host role in Munich and what role the changed majority in the city council will play with the Greens as the strongest force. The German EM ambassador Philipp Lahm recently confirmed that the German venue was also under scrutiny. In the Allianz Arena, in addition to the German group games against France, Portugal and a playoff winner, there will also be a quarter-final. Munich’s withdrawal also seems unthinkable concerning the EM 2024, which will take place entirely in Germany.
The “Kicker” recently reported that the problems with the new game data for the European Championships in Bilbao, which had been postponed due to the corona pandemic, should be more specific. The British Daily Mail also claims to have heard of serious doubts about the Italian football association in Rome. Also, there are collisions with other events planned for 2021 in the respective arenas in Amsterdam, Glasgow, Dublin and at the final location in London.
“UEFA is in contact with all twelve host cities on this matter and further announcements will be made in due course,” the European Football Union said. The schedule is “not yet officially confirmed”. A decision could be made in late April. The European Championship was supposed to take place in twelve countries this year to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first edition of the tournament in 1960. The period between June 11 and July 11, 2021, has been set as the new date. According to UEFA, “with the intention of having the same game plan and the same venues”.
However, the Russian member of the UEFA Executive Committee, Alexei Sorokin, has already spoken of possible alternative scenarios: “Should any city fail, only a few options remain.” New venues would be selected or games would be distributed to the other cities. “The second option is less time-consuming,” said Sorokin, who also heads the St. Petersburg venue organization team, the Tass agency.
In Russia itself, withdrawal is not an issue, assured Sorokin. If some cities jump off because of the Corona crisis, Russia could help. Azerbaijan, which is rich in oil, also wants to hold on to Baku in any case. Regional media recently speculated about the possible benefits of cancellation by other hosts such as Rome or Bilbao. So Baku could get more games.
Rome’s mayor Virginia Raggi, however, immediately after the postponement of the European Championship said: “We want to experience the European championship carefree and without risks, and I am sure that it will be an unforgettable event for our city.” Italy is one of the countries hardest hit by Corona.
Spain also suffers from the spread of Sars-CoV-2. A spokesman for the national association, however, assured the PA news agency that it would be “no problem” to play 2021 games at the planned venue in Bilbao in 2021. Bilbao’s mayor Juan Maria Aburto, on the other hand, does not want to make a public statement to the EM organizers before the city has yet to issue a statement.
Copenhagen, meanwhile, absolutely wants to stay at the European Championship and celebrate “a huge sports summer” together with the start of the Tour de France 2021, as Mayor Frank Jensen said. Like most organizers, the Danes expect increased costs due to the relocation of the EM. However, for the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is known as a big football fan, this is no reason to shake at the venue in Budapest.
Bucharest can also be sure of further support from the Romanian government. Investments for the EM would benefit the country in the long term and would “support the economy especially in these times,” said Sports Minister Ionut Stroe.
The assessment of risks and chances of sticking to the EM is still in progress in Dublin, Glasgow, and London. These venues should also be available for 2021. The severe effects of the coronavirus pandemic in Great Britain also caused London’s mayor to issue warning words.
“The security of the public always comes first,” said Sadiq Khan, emphasizing: “Football is less important than that.”