EURO 2020: virus poses financial and logistical challenges | WGN 720 radio
LONDON (AP) – A tournament intended to be a celebration of European football will instead reflect many of the uncertainties that beset the sport during the coronavirus pandemic.
Simply finishing the European Championship a year later than expected – with teams flying across Europe to play games – will be a triumph on a continent trying to wipe out newer variants of the coronavirus.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin inherited a complex plan from Michel Platini on which he had long expressed reservations, even before the coronavirus epidemic added to the logistical complexities.
“It’s a pretty tough situation, a tough format in and of itself, and with COVID it’s even more difficult,” Ceferin told The Associated Press. “So it’s not easy but now it looks good and I can’t imagine this crisis will be any worse.”
The risk of coronavirus infections increases with the number of trips of the 24 teams, and adds to the workload of players after a season congested by a pandemic.
“It actually makes it more difficult because you have more travel, less recovery, etc.,” said Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, general secretary of the FIFPRO global players’ union. “We have seen that travel is a substantial risk factor for one of the COVID protocols that professional sports have undertaken.”
At least, the number of UEFA member associations hosting matches has been reduced from 13 to 11 after Belgium was cut off before the pandemic and Dublin lost its matches more recently because Ireland failed. not able to guarantee to have supporters.
The event is still set to be the first chance for the widespread return of supporters to stadiums across Europe since March 2020, provided further restrictions are not imposed. But not all fans will be able to make it to the matches, which will have an impact on UEFA’s atmosphere and sources of income.
Ukraine, for example, will play their group matches in Amsterdam and Bucharest with supporters from those countries present.
“It’s very sad news, but we have what we have,” said Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov. “We should be stronger than before and play for our fans. They cut our “12th man” in the Netherlands. We have to show them how strong we are. “
However, travel conditions could change midway through the tournament.
Playing the delayed tournament is critical to UEFA’s cash flow, with around € 2 billion ($ 2.5 billion) in revenue at stake after already incurring costs of € 300 million ($ 367 million) ) due to the delay. The board of directors has also released more than 235 million euros ($ 288 million) to help its 55 member associations cope with the pandemic.
In a hosting plan that has posed so many challenges, choosing London for the climax seems fortuitous as Britain delivered Europe’s fastest vaccine rollout. There is still hope that by the time the semi-finals and final are played at Wembley Stadium all 90,000 seats can be filled, helping a sport where billions of dollars have been lost amid the pandemic.
“The entire football ecosystem, at professional, amateur and youth levels, has been severely disrupted by the pandemic,” Ceferin wrote in a recent UEFA report assessing the state of European football’s finances. “It requires a concerted effort and a coordinated response throughout the football pyramid. Solidarity, not self-interest, must prevail and will prevail. “
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