UEFA sources have refused to rule out moving the Euro 2020 semi-finals and final away from Wembley if overseas fans and VIPs cannot be exempted from strict quarantine rules.
European football’s governing body released a statement on Friday saying it was “confident” the final week would be held in London but pointed out “there is always a contingency plan”.
Budapest is understood to be the first option if the games were switched, with matches at the Puskas Arena currently being played at 100 per cent capacity.
UEFA’s statement suggested it might be possible to admit overseas spectators into London for the final week, using a method similar to that deployed at last month’s Champions League final in Portugal where fans flew in and out within 24 hours.
“At the moment, we are in discussions with the local authorities to try to allow fans of the participating teams to attend the matches, using a strict testing and bubble concept that would mean their stay in the UK would be less than 24 hours and their movements would be restricted to approved transport and venues only,” the statement read.
“We understand the pressures that the (British) Government face and hope to be able to reach a satisfactory conclusion of our discussions on the matter.”
UEFA is understood to be looking for a slightly different arrangement for VIPs and sponsors – a ‘bubble to bubble’ concept similar to that in place for overseas media where individuals would travel only between designated venues such as the airport, their hotel and a match venue.
It believes this approach minimises the risk of infection.
The British Government confirmed the final four Euro 2020 matches at Wembley could be played in front of crowds of at least 40,000 despite the decision to delay the final easing of coronavirus restrictions.
The games will be part of the Government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) which has been running since April and has been used to test various ways to get fans back into venues without the need for social distancing.
Currently, overseas fans coming in from countries on the amber list – which the vast majority of Europe falls within – would have to provide a negative test before leaving their country of origin in order to enter the UK and then strictly isolate for at least five days using the ‘test to release’ scheme, or for 10 days.
Euro 2020 tournament director Martin Kallen spoke on Thursday about his hopes for overseas fans to attend the final stages.
“We are in discussion for the knockout rounds, especially the semi-finals and final, on this question to have also overseas spectators,” he said.
“We are in discussion every day with the authorities and we hope to come to a good conclusion with the English government.”
Asked if it was realistic that the Government would grant concessions, Kallen added: “I hope so. At the moment it is too early to say it but we have seen some signs that there could be a possibility.
“But it’s too early to give a clear answer, we have still some time on that side.”