Italian Prime Minister claims Euro 2020 final should be MOVED to Rome from Wembley and that the showpiece event should not be played where ‘the virus is spreading quickly’ as Covid Delta variant takes hold in the UK
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has called for the Euro 2020 final to be moved from Wembley to Rome, citing the concerning number of increased Covid cases in the United Kingdom.
As well as England’s group matches at the tournament, Wembley Stadium in London is due to hold the final of the European Championship on July 11 but positive tests for the virus have been on the increase standing at 10,633 on Monday, with five deaths recorded in the last 28 days following a positive test.
The total number of new cases over the past week is now 31.4 per cent up on the total for the previous week, while deaths are up 12.1 per cent week on week.
When asked during a news conference in Berlin whether the final should be moved to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, which has also been hosting games, Draghi insisted he would try and move the location away from Wembley.
He said: ‘Yes … I will try to stop the final being held in a country where infections are rising quickly.’
Italy Prime Minister Mario Draghi (left) claimed during his news conference in Berlin that he was looking to get the Euro 2020 final relocated to Rome from Wembley
However Italian football’s governing body chief Gabriele Gravina denied claims the country were seeking to have the final moved, with Budapest also being pencilled in a possible alternative.
Gravina said: ‘There aren’t the right conditions to organise such an event in Rome or Budapest. The fact that 60,000 fans can follow the game in the Budapest stadium wearing no face masks attracts attention and fears.
‘I want to highlight the sense of responsibility shown by our country regarding the fans’ health.’
Wembley will also host both semi-finals of the tournament and UEFA had been weighing up moves whether to relocate all three matches due to their concerns over boarder restrictions being too strict.
However, a deal is on the brink of being struck that would see Wembley host 60,000 people for the Euro 2020 final.
Italian football chief Gabriele Gravina (centre) denied claims Italy are looking to host the final
The Stadio Olimpico in Rome has held all three of Italy’s games at the competition so far
Sportsmail understands the government could agree terms with UEFA and make an announcement as promptly as Tuesday.
Under the arrangements, there would be around 2,500 foreign VIPs and media allowed into England for the showpiece event and both sides are locked in discussions about how to safely accommodate fans from participating nations.
The final capacities for both semi-finals are also believed to be up for discussion, but sources stress that health and safety is ‘absolutely paramount’ in the conversations taking place.
There have been concerns that UEFA could dramatically move the two semi-finals and final to Budapest, which has hosted two games of the European Championship in front of a full, 60,000 capacity at the Puskas Arena. Meanwhile, there were 22,500 fans at England v Scotland at Wembley on Friday.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin told the Government last week the UK’s border restrictions were too strict compared with those in the EU and that other cities were willing and able to host matches due to be played at Wembley.
Wembley will also host all three of England’s group games as well as the semi-finals and the final and are edging closer to satisfying UEFA with a protocol on how to safely hold the events
One idea under discussion is to fly fans into the UK from participating countries, bus them to the stadium and take them back to the airport after the game, similar to the management of some supporters at the Champions League final in Porto between Manchester City and Chelsea.
A source said that the government is looking at options that protect health and the borders of the country.
However, VIPs attending the games at Wembley Stadium that do not have to abide by travel quarantine rules imposed on ordinary travellers is likely to spark a backlash.
Primer Minister Boris Johnson admitted today that the Government would speak to Uefa and ‘see if we can make some sensible accommodations, but the priority obviously has to be public health’.