Euro 2020 football tournament kicks off today

Euro 2020 gets under way today (Friday) – and what was already going to be a unique tournament will be notable for several other reasons too.

The competition keeps its name even though it was delayed for a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It will now run from 11 June to 11 July 2021 across 11 countries, separated by 4,766km.

It is a first major tournament for Scotland since 1998, while England could have home advantage in nearly every game and Wales are at their second Euros in a row.

England and Scotland, who are in the same group, are two of the host countries in the first European Championship to be held across the continent.

They will be the first major tournament games held in the UK since Euro 1996.

With Wembley hosting group games, a last-16 tie, both semi-finals and the final, England would only have to play one match abroad if they win their group and go all the way.

Wales are also among the 24 teams, although they do not host any games.

The tournament kicks off with Italy v Turkey in Rome on Friday, 11 June (20:00 BST) and concludes with the final at Wembley in London on Sunday, 11 July.

The other host cities are Glasgow, Amsterdam, Baku, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Munich, Rome and Seville.

England’s three group games will be at Wembley with Scotland playing their other two matches at Hampden Park. Wales play theirs in Baku in Azerbaijan and Rome in Italy.

The tournament opener and England, Scotland and Wales’ opening games are exclusively live on the BBC, and all 51 matches in the tournament are available on Radio 5 Live.

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There should be fans at all 51 games.

Dublin’s games were moved to St Petersburg and London, cities already hosting games, and Bilbao’s matches were switched to Seville – because neither city would guarantee allowing fans into their stadiums.

The biggest crowds could be at the 68,000-seater Puskas Arena in Budapest – which is planning to be at 100% capacity.

Wembley Stadium and Hampden Park are planning to be at about 25% capacity – 22,500 and 12,000 respectively.

Wembley, which is hosting both semi-finals and finals, could host more fans as the tournament goes on. A full house of 90,000 has not yet been ruled out for the final if Covid restrictions are lifted on 21 June.

Elsewhere, St Petersburg and Baku will have capacities of 50%, with the other cities – Amsterdam, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Munich, Rome and Seville – somewhere between 22% and 45%.

The decision on how many fans could attend was made by the individual regions/countries and not Uefa.

There is no block exemption to international travel or quarantine rules for match-ticket holders (although some countries are making exceptions), meaning supporters must obey the existing rules.

Thousands of fans – who bought and paid for tickets in 2019 – have had their tickets cancelled and refunded as a result of the smaller capacities.

But supporters lucky enough to keep their tickets will have a few hurdles to clear before being allowed to attend games.

Each city has its own rules – but fans need to wear a face mask at every game (unless they have a doctor’s certificate).

There will be sanitiser stations throughout stadiums and fans are asked to stay in their seats as much as possible and avoid close contact with other fans.

Glasgow, Munich and Baku are yet to confirm any need for testing to enter the stadium – although that could yet change.

In London, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen and Rome, proof of vaccination or a negative test will suffice.

The Wembley rules are just for the group stages at the moment.

Fans need a negative test to get in to games in Amsterdam and Seville. St Petersburg plans to do temperature checks.

Croatia and the Czech Republic are the other two teams in England and Scotland’s group. They were both meant to have their bases in Scotland – but have now moved back to their home countries and will just fly to each game.

Scottish rules meant the whole squad would have to quarantine if there was a Covid case in the team.

Teams will be allowed to select a 26-player squad instead of the usual 23 to lessen the load on players after a compressed club season – and give managers more options in case of Covid outbreaks.

A rule allowing each team to make up to five substitutes per game had already been confirmed.

Squads will be in bubbles and tested before each game. There has been no mandatory vaccination of players. – BBC.

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