The complications of holding Euro 2021 in 11 countries during the pandemic



Written by Sandip G, edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: Jun 11, 2021 10:18:44 AM

For the first time in the history of sport, a multi-team event would be organized in more than three countries. Euro 2021 will travel to 11 countries, tracing the length and breadth of the continent. The tournament will take place from Bilbao to St. Petersburg, from Dublin to Baku, linking various cultures and climates, ideals and ideologies. But the vision of UEFA president Michel Platini, now under siege, of a pan-European tournament has its supporters and its opponents.

How is the format played out?

Nine of the 24 teams have home games, as opposed to typically one country hosting the entire tournament or sharing games with a neighbor. Of the nine, six play all of their group matches in their backyard: England, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark. If England come out on top of the group, they could play their pre-quarter-final at home as well. And if they manage to win the quarter-final on the road, they could end up playing the semi-final and the final also at home.

Bulletin | Click for the best explanations of the day to your inbox

What was the supposed logic behind a spread championship?

Platini, when announcing the tournament format, assumed two huge advantages of a pan-continental tournament. Fans and economy. In a time of economic uncertainty, UEFA did not want to weigh on a country without sufficient infrastructure. The burden of expenditure, on the contrary, would be shared.

The classic case was the 2012 tournament, co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine, two countries with less than robust economies. One of the stadiums refurbished for the Euro, Arena Lviv, is about to be demolished due to maintenance costs and debts to the tune of 350,000 pounds. Demolition would apparently cost less than maintenance of the facilities. There, definitely, there is the alternative of hosting the tournament in powers, sporting and economically, such as England or Germany, Spain or Italy, where the infrastructure is intact and the cost of renovating the facilities. stages would be minimal. But such a move would destroy the tournament’s inclusiveness and undermine UEFA’s expansionary momentum. In addition, more home games mean more chances for the stadium to sell out. As Platini said in Kiev that evening, “the euros would get to the fans”.

A view of the stadium before a training session for the Italian national team ahead of Euro 2020, Friday’s Group A soccer match against Turkey, at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on Thursday, June 10, 2021 (AP Photo / Andrew Medichini, Pool)

What did his detractors say?

Critics dismissed the idea as overly ambitious and just another ploy to capitalize on votes from smaller nations. This posed both logistical hurdles: equipping one or two countries for a big tournament is easier than preparing almost an entire continent to host a tournament as big as the Euro. While some teams could play from the comfort of their own homes, others have to travel across the continent. Some had to have a huge home advantage and some had none. Invariably, it was the elite teams that benefited.

What is the impact of the pandemic on the format?

When Platini envisioned the pan-European project, he and the world hardly took into account the devastation the pandemic would wreak. A difficult format was only made more difficult by the pandemic. Organizers grapple with myriad complexities. Now they have to create bubbles in each of the 11 cities. Traveling now is riskier, and suddenly Europe seems bigger, the two cities at opposite ends of the continent, Bilbao and Baku, are 5,500 kilometers apart. Crossing borders is not as smooth as it used to be.

Protocols are different in each country. More travel means more vulnerability to infections and less recovery time. For example, Wales travel to Baku for the first two games and then fly to Rome for the last. With travel rules, visa regulations and pandemic protocols (England will only allow those with vaccination passports) changed by governments, logistics become more difficult. “It’s very complicated and now it’s even more complicated,” UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin admitted to Associated Press.

“We always have to have a plan, B, C or D,” said CEO Martin Kallen.

People walk under soccer jerseys of national teams advertising the upcoming Euro 2020 soccer championship are displayed in Baku, Azerbaijan on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (AP Photo / Darko Vojinovic)

In addition to security arrangements, health care and quarantine arrangements should also be in place. They must now not only take into account, but also imagine a variety of possibilities that would not have been in the picture otherwise. What if a player, support staff or officials were infected? What if another wave of viruses hit a city?

Without forgetting the differences in climate and currency. Russia will not take the euro, just as Italy would scowl the manat, Azerbaijan’s currency. It’s summer in Baku and spring in St. Petersburg.

Why didn’t UEFA cancel the tournament?

As such, the postponement of the event resulted in massive losses. They have, according to PA, suffered a loss of 300 million euros, another two billion are at stake if the tournament does not start. In addition, the governing body has disbursed 235 million euros to help its 55 member associations cope with the pandemic.

Many sponsors also have an interest – the reason why Euro 2020 was not changed to Euro 2021. The rebranding would have crushed the sports economy. It was therefore unthinkable to cancel the tournament.

What is the future of this format?

Never ever, says Ceferin. Much will depend on the success of the tournament. A smooth tournament could result in a more polished version.


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.