Once upon a time: Euro 2020, with or without an audience?

While the Euro is fast approaching, UEFA still wants to be optimistic and still plans to organize the competition in its original format. After postponing the 2020 edition by one year because of the health crisis which has affected us all for more than a year, the decision-making concerning the presence or not of public in the stadium is expected in the coming days and s is more critical than ever now 2 months before the start of the festivities (June 11 – July 11). Find the first issue “Once Upon A Time” produced with the students of the ISEM program of Kedge BS.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the first edition of the European Football Championship (or European Nations Cup in 1960), the European football body and its then President Michel Platini decided in December 2012 to ‘organize for the first time, a competition taking place across the Old Continent. In total, 12 host cities will be selected, namely Munich (Germany), Budapest (Hungary), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Baku (Azerbaijan), Bilbao (Spain), Bucharest (Romania), Copenhagen (Denmark), Dublin (Ireland), Glasgow (Scotland), Rome (Italy) and St. Petersburg (Russia) and which will host the first phase of the competition before the semi-finals and the final are played in the legendary Wembley Stadium, in London (England). As a reminder, the French team, reigning world champion and considered among the big favorites of the competition must challenge Germany in Munich, then Portugal and Hungary in Budapest.

Very quickly shifted to summer 2021 from March 2020, optimism was in order a few months ago when all competitions resumed and with the long-awaited arrival of vaccines. However, the evolution of the health situation and the appearance of variants of the virus plunges UEFA into full doubt. Already complicated from a logistical point of view in normal times, the organization of this Euro becomes a real headache while travel restrictions between certain countries once again disrupt European competitions (see Champions Leagues between German clubs and English). In this context, how to move whole crowds of spectators across several countries even when gatherings from all over Europe are banned, with countries folded in on themselves to avoid the spread of the virus?

Recently, Aleksander Čeferin, now at the head of the European football body, reaffirmed that it was unthinkable to play this Euro behind closed doors, at the risk of reviewing the organization of the competition and putting pressure on the players. host cities. “There are several scenarios. But the only guarantee we have is that the option of playing any Euro 2020 game in an empty stadium is out of the question. […] all host countries must guarantee that there will be fans at every meeting “. If UEFA had previously considered four options (full stadium, 50 to 100% spectators, 20 to 30%, or a closed session), the option without an audience now appears to have been ruled out, even if it means setting aside certain cities. hosts if they cannot accommodate the public. “If a city came to propose a scenario behind closed doors, it would not be automatically excluded but the meetings which were to be held there could be transferred to other cities which have the capacity to accommodate spectators” it was reported to AFP. A position reaffirmed by the UEFA President who told the Croatian daily Sportske Novosti on 14 March that from now on, “the only unknown is to know if the gauge of spectators admitted in the enclosures would be 100% or lower”.

panoramic_PANOBORISCP29032021_001.jpgTo date, several more or less probable destinations have already volunteered to host the event if necessary. In early March, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was ready in early March to host in London “other meetings” in addition to the seven games already scheduled at Wembley. However, a spokesperson for the British government denied the idea that the whole competition would be organized on the island “UEFA has always intended and still wishes to organize the Euro in its original formatAnother candidate, the State of Israel, which recently ” offered UEFA the opportunity to use its infrastructure this year ” by highlighting the effectiveness of its vaccination campaign with nearly 50% of the population having already received a first injection of the vaccine. Finally, the cities of Budapest and Bucharest have also offered themselves as alternatives, while the latter have already hosted relocated Champions League this year.

Faced with so much uncertainty and despite the hammering of UEFA, which has repeatedly said that the Euro would not take place in front of empty stands, many fans have resigned themselves to canceling their tickets. This is the case of Fabien, 56, forced to give up his traditional stay in the face of a lack of visibility. “The Euro is my favorite competition because it is in my eyes the most challenging […] since Euro 2004 (in Portugal), my sons and I have been setting off to discover a European country to follow the competition. It has become a kind of tradition in the family. But this year, given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, we were forced to cancel our tickets and all of our reservations. […]. It’s a shame because I think France has a real chance to win the Euro “. For the supporters who are still determined to attend the competition, everything is still very vague as UEFA is due to meet on Tuesday 7 April to decide on the capacity of each city to welcome the public. Once again in the face of this pandemic, we will have to show flexibility if we want to be able to hope to have a chance to support our blues across Europe.

Article written and video produced in collaboration with Jules Desseignet, Pauline Fournat, Samih Klamy and Pierre Lapras-Moret

Photo credits: Panoramic

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> Euro 2020: UEFA wants spectators in the stadiums

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