UEFA faces scrutiny over varying capacity limits during Euro 2020 matches

UEFA is “utterly irresponsible” for holding big crowds during the European Championship, a German minister said Thursday.

The UK government have allowed UEFA to expand capacity limits for the semifinal (July 6) and final (July 10) of the tournament to 45,000 at Wembley Stadium even with the ongoing threat of increased coronavirus exposure. There were 60,000 fans present in Budapest for one Euro 2020 match.

Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer slammed UEFA over its capacity rules.

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“UEFA’s position is utterly irresponsible,” he told reporters, via Reuters. “I cannot explain why UEFA is not being sensible …I suspect it is due to commercialism.”

Only 14,500 fans were allowed for games in Munich. Fans were also forced to wear masks and social distance.

UEFA said it’s been following guidelines set forth by local authorities.

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“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,” European soccer’s governing body said.

The World Health Organization expressed concern about new cases over the course of the tournament. WHO’s senior emergency officer Catherine Smallwood said a new wave across the continent is inevitable if proper measures aren’t taken. The organization said new cases of coronavirus have risen 10%.

“We need to look much beyond just the stadiums themselves,” Smallwood said. “We need to look at how people get there, are they traveling in large crowded convoys of buses? And when they leave the stadiums, are they going into crowded bars and pubs to watch the matches?”

She said the events were adding to the spread.

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Friday begins the quarterfinal round. Switzerland will play Spain in Saint Petersburg. Belgium will play Italy in Munich. On Saturday, Czech Republic will take on Denmark in Baku and Ukraine will play England in Rome.