Between sanitary bubbles and limited gauges in stadiums, one euro in Covid mode

It is a football Euro unlike any other that opens in Rome on Friday 11 June with a promising Turkey – Italy. By its phenomenal organization: eleven stadiums in eleven different countries across the continent. And by context: Postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the competition, which will conclude at London’s Wembley Stadium on July 11, will be marked by harsh health conditions for teams and supporters. Bubbles, Quarantine, Fan-Zone… Overview of measures taken.

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  • Strict isolation and testing for teams

Most of them have gathered since the end of May, with the 24 teams participating in the Euros and their staff being subjected to strict isolation. The French team is thus “confined” to its base camp in Clairfontaine (Yvelines). As of 14 June, the date of their departure for Munich, where they face Germany the next day, the Blues can only go out on rare occasions: a bike ride in the woods or a friendly match against Wales played in Nice. and France against Bulgaria at the Stade de.

“Everything we can imagine: a delivery man who would touch a handle, we then touch it and that’s it, the virus is transmitted. We have to plan for everything, even the unexpected”, explained, in early May, Guy Stephan, assistant coach Didier Deschamps. If the epidemic is apparently easing in France, the risk of seeing a source of contamination in the group is still great. Like what happened in rugby with France’s XV, where twelve players and four members of management contracted COVID-19 during the Six Nations tournament at the start of the year.

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Players must also undergo regular testing, with a gap of no more than four days during the competition. As far as vaccination is concerned, no instructions have been issued by the UEFA organizer but part of the delegation may have already received one or two injections. The Blues’ management was vaccinated before the end of May, but nothing was arranged for the players, left for them. “Personal Selection”.

  • Covid-19 is already disrupting some teams

Even before its kickoff, Euro is experiencing the first health alerts with at least four positive cases detected in three different teams: two for Sweden, one for Spain and the other in the Netherlands group.

On the Spanish side, bad news came from captain Sergio Busquets, who was diagnosed positive on Sunday, 6 June. Defender Diego Llorente, who tested positive on Wednesday, is finally considered false positive after testing negative on Thursday. From the first known results, Spain adopted drastic isolation measures, forcing its players to train alone until the end of the anticipated incubation period.

The Spanish coach, Luis Enrique, had to adapt: ​​Spain sent its Hopes team to play their last preparatory match on Tuesday night against Lithuania (4–0), and the Asturian coach immediately sent six Reservists and eleven members of the Aspires team. Retained to be ready for any eventuality. Spain’s health ministry announced on Wednesday 9 June that the entire selection would be vaccinated in the coming days.

In the Swedes, who will face Spain for their first match of the Euro, on Monday, 14 June, Dejan Kulusevski and Mattias Swanberg were found positive and will not play this first meeting. The selection also announced the implementation of daily rapid tests and an increasing number of PCR tests, in small groups and indoor meetings in larger venues.

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For these reasons UEFA authorized coaches to retain 26 players instead of 23. If, however, a cluster arises in the selection, its match will be played if it consists of at least thirteen players, including at least one. . If this does not happen, the match will be rescheduled in another stadium within 48 hours. And if this is not possible, the team will be punished with a loss by forfeiture (0-3), because “Responsible for canceling the meeting”.

  • In stadiums, variable gauge

Despite the still fragile health situation across the continent, UEFA has called on cities hosting matches to welcome the public into stadiums. Faced with this obligation, Bilbao and Dublin withdrew at the last minute. Games scheduled in Bilbao have been moved to Seville and those scheduled for Dublin will eventually take place in St Petersburg and London.

“Each site, each city, each country has defined its formula” To organize this return of spectators, explained UEFA health advisor AFP Daniel Koch. Budapest has promised to fill its stadiums – about 68,000 spectators – subject to full vaccinations for Hungarians, and for foreigners to be vaccinated or test negative.

Other good students: Baku and St. Petersburg have pledged to fill 50% of their stadiums. In contrast, Munich will only accept 22% of the public at its famous Allianz Arena, i.e. a maximum of 14,000 people.

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  • Barriers on the Borders for Supporters

For fans who want to follow their team, the biggest hurdle will be at the borders, while only Azerbaijan, Hungary and Russia have put in place special procedures for ticket holders, who will be exempted from quarantine upon arrival. . Bucharest is considering doing the same for visitors who have been at the site for less than three days and present a negative test for COVID-19.

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But restrictions are in place everywhere and especially in the United Kingdom, the delta version has faced growth as seen in India, and which is to host the semi-finals and final in London. These measures may vary depending on the country of origin of the ticket holder.

  • What about fan-zones in France?

He had great success in Euro 2016 or 2018 World Cup. But for this competition, most cities are still reluctant to set up fan-zones for re-matches.

The sports minister, Roxana Maracinenu, confirmed on 4 June that such venues could be set up, but with seating restrictions and a maximum capacity of 5,000 people, until 30 June – the date marking the relaxation of health measures in France. “After this date, we will more or less return to normalcy”, she hopes.

With these still harsh conditions, many cities prefer to wait until July and the start of the final stage – hopefully France still qualified – to set up these famous fan zones.

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About the Author: Piers Parker

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