The Italian government blocked UK residents from attending Saturday’s Euro 2020 Ukraine v England match in Rome, asking the European football’s governing body to cancel their tickets as concerns mount over another wave of Covid-19 in Europe.
A statement from UEFA on Thursday said the Italian authorities had “specifically asked UEFA to cancel tickets sold to UK residents as of 28 June, stopping sales and transfers as of 21:00 this evening.”
Under the measures, UK residents who bought their tickets before June 28 were given one hour to transfer their tickets to Italian residents or return their tickets to UEFA.
A statement from the Italian Interior Ministry on Thursday said the block on ticket sales had been decided “following a proposal from the Public Safety Department.”
The Euro 2020 Championship has so far triggered significant spikes in Covid-19 infections from fans returning home to countries including Scotland and Finland.
The World Health Organization warned Thursday that Europe risked a new wave in August due to the relaxation of restrictions, the spread of an infectious Covid-19 variant and low vaccination coverage. Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said while he hoped the championship matches were not acting as superspreader events, the prospect could not “be excluded,” Agence France Presse reported.
Italian authorities had already put in place significant controls on UK-based fans attempting to enter the country for the game, imposing from June 18 a five-day quarantine period on anyone entering Italy who had stayed or traveled through the UK in the past 14 days.
The decision to cancel the fans’ tickets was taken in order to “ensure that UK residents do not circumvent the quarantine requirements applicable when entering Italy” UEFA said.
The Italian embassy in London was careful to remind fans in a statement Thursday that “anybody who has been in the UK in the previous 14 days, irrespective of their nationality or residency will not be admitted to the stadium, even if they have a ticket.”
“Only those who can prove that they have arrived in Italy at least six days previously, have observed five days of quarantine, and have taken a post-quarantine Covid-19 test with a negative result will be allowed into the Stadio Olimpico.”
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi had previously warned about the impact of England’s involvement in the championship.
Speaking during a joint appearance with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on June 21, Draghi voiced his opposition to the Euro 2020 final taking place in London “where contagions are growing rapidly.”
A separate statement from UEFA Friday said that “all the remaining matches of UEFA EURO 2020 will go ahead according to the match schedule as planned,” adding that final decisions regarding the “entry requirements to any of the host countries and host stadiums fall to the responsibility of the competent local authorities.”