A German minister has branded European football governing body and Euro 2020 organizer UEFA “utterly irresponsible” over allowing mass crowds at the tournament, as the continent suffers a covid spike from the new Delta Variant.
Covid restrictions vary from country to country during the finals, with a full capacity of 60,000 spectators invited to watch games at the Puskas Arena in Budapest, half of the potential 90,000 ushered in to Wembley Stadium and between 10,000 and 15,000 fans at other grounds.
During a press conference on Thursday, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer gave his unimpressed views on the situation.
“UEFA’s position is utterly irresponsible,” Seehofer seethed. “I cannot explain why UEFA is not being sensible… I suspect it is due to commercialism.”
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer called European football’s governing body UEFA “utterly irresponsible” for permitting large crowds at #EURO2020 games.About 60,000 fans will be allowed into London’s Wembley Stadium for the final, despite warnings from health experts. pic.twitter.com/nwpBSbhSwn
Commercialism should “not overshadow the protection of the population against infection”, Seehofer added.
“We all know that contact avoidance and certain hygiene rules are indispensable to overcome infections.”
Seehofer added that “people being very close to each other” and “celebrating successes with big hugs” made it “preordained that this will promote the occurrence of infections”.
Seehofer noted that matches with 60,000 spectators – such as those at the Puskas Arena and the semi-finals and final, which will be played at Wembley – would spread COVID-19, while also drawing comparison to other matches in Munich, where only 14,500 socially-distanced punters were allowed in and had to wear facemasks, uploading their negative covid test results to an app.
Horst Seehofer, German interior minister, says UEFA’s policy on crowds in stadiums is “absolutely irresponsible”.
Elsewhere in German politics, Karl Lauterbach, who is a health expert in the German parliament, claimed: “UEFA is responsible for the deaths of many people.”
In a statement to Reuters, though, the governing body insisted it is “fully aligned” with local health authorities’ guidelines at each venue.
“The final decisions with regards to the number of fans attending matches and the entry requirements to any of the host countries and host stadiums fall under the responsibility of the competent local authorities, and UEFA strictly follows any such measures,” it also said.
Public Health Scotland linking around 2,000 coronavirus cases to Euro 2020, including 1,294 Scottish residents who went to London for the England game. 397 were at Wembley.They are yet to say how many of the people had been vaccinated, although 3/4 were aged 20-39
Scotland’s health authorities have already gone on record claiming that almost 2,000 people who headed to London to either watch their country’s 0-0 draw with England at Wembley or hang around the capital were infected, as Finland has identified 300 nationals who caught the virus while cheering on their team in Saint Petersburg.
Russia’s deputy prime minister, Tatiana Alexeyevna Golikova, has made calls for a ban on social gatherings of more than 500 people in the Russian city ahead of Spain’s quarterfinal clash against Switzerland on Friday, which should see around 34,000 fans enjoy the action at the Gazprom Arena.
And the World Health Organization (WHO) has said crowds at stadiums and in bars in host cities are the driving force behind rising cases.
Just for context: #Tokyo2020 only allows local spectators, no singing or excessive cheering for crowds. No exceptions for athletes or media in terms of health & safety. #coronavirus#COVID19#TokyoOlympics#uefa#ENGGERhttps://t.co/8XgdlkMglx
Attempting to put worried minds at rest however, Daniel Koch, who is UEFA’s Euro 2020 medical advisor, said vaccinations and tight border controls will prevent a new wave from ripping across Europe.
“It cannot be totally excluded that events and gatherings could ultimately lead to some local increase in the number of cases,” Koch said.
“This would not only apply to football matches, but also to any kind of situations that are now allowed as part of the easing measures decided by the competent local authorities.”