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UEFA drops Euro hosts Dublin, Bilbao, mulls Super League reprisals

The four matches destined for Dublin will now be held in St Petersburg and London while Seville steps in to replace Bilbao, UEFA announced.

Munich was confirmed as a venue at the eleventh hour, the German city joining Budapest, Baku, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Glasgow, Copenhagen and Rome.

Held over from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the European Championship will now be held in 11 different countries from June 11-July 11.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin welcomed being able to “guarantee a safe and festive environment” with fans “at every match”.

Dublin and Bilbao lost out after the Irish government and Basque region officials were unable to assure UEFA of fans despite the pandemic.

“We just think June is too soon,” Irish Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar had said on Wednesday.

Dublin’s three group matches go to St Petersburg, with Wembley the new venue for its round of 16 game.

Seville gets Bilbao’s three matches and round of 16 tie after its regional authority pledged the Estadio La Cartuja could be filled to 30 percent capacity.

UEFA said it had forced the switch “simply to allow fans to attend the games after a year of not being able to watch live football in stadiums”.

Budapest, St Petersburg, Baku, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Glasgow, Copenhagen, Rome and London had all promised crowds at between 25 percent and 100 percent of capacity in the run up to UEFA’s deadline this month.

Munich, venue for world champions France against Germany on June 15, got the go-ahead for their four matches after confirmation from local authorities they would be able “to welcome a minimum of 14,500 spectators”, UEFA’s statement confirmed.

The German FA, however, treated UEFA’s decision with caution.

“We look forward to great Euro 2020 matches in Munich — maybe even in front of an audience, if the pandemic’s development allows it,” said German FA president Fritz Keller in a statement.

And Munich mayor Dieter Reiter went further.

“There have been no promises of any kind to guarantee spectators,” he stressed.

While there will be disappointment in Dublin and Bilbao for missing out, UEFA expressed its “appreciation and gratitude” to the two cities, saying “both are considered as good venues to host future UEFA events”.

“While today is a disappointing day for football fans in the city and country, public safety must always come first,” said Owen Keegan, chief executive of Dublin City Council.

Also on UEFA’s agenda at Friday’s virtual meeting was the matter of punishment, if any, for the so-called ‘dirty dozen’ architects of the doomed Super League designed to supplant the Champions League.

European football’s governing body said it had examined its “options” without announcing any sanctions.

“The UEFA executive committee has been informed of the latest developments in relation to the ‘Super League’, in particular regarding the options available to UEFA and the measures it plans to take,” said UEFA.

In the space of 48 hours this week beginning on Sunday evening, UEFA, aided by fans and politicians, quelled a mutiny by the English, Spanish and Italian clubs who presumed to form their own quasi-closed tournament.

Nine clubs, including all six in England, subsequently withdrew and even if Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid, whose president Florentino Perez led the attempted secession, are still refusing formally to capitulate, their proposal no longer appears credible. 

US investment bank JPMorgan, which agreed to financially back the breakaway Super League, said Friday it had “clearly misjudged” the failed project’s impact.

Among the many punishments being considered by UEFA would have been the possible exclusion of Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid, all of whom signed up for the Super League, from the Champions League semi-finals which begin next week.

Such a drastic measure appeared to have been ruled out by Ceferin who told Slovenian television Pop TV on Wednesday: “There is relatively little chance that next week’s matches will not be played… If we cancelled the matches, television stations would have compensation demands.”

It remains to be seen what the “consequences” promised Wednesday by Ceferin to the dissident clubs and their leaders will look like, the UEFA boss not having specified whether they would be judicial, disciplinary or sporting. 

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