So there you are. A year after its start, with stadiums only partially occupied by supporters and at least one of the favorites already sweating a possible coronavirus epidemic, Euro 2020 finally kicks off in Rome on Friday.
The road has not been easy so far, neither for UEFA, the organizer of the competition, nor for the 24 teams that have qualified. Most of the players who are supposed to represent their country are coming out of long compact seasons, which could affect their performance levels over the next month or so.
Meanwhile, concerns persist that the coronavirus pandemic, and the travel restrictions in place across Europe in an attempt to slow its spread, could still force at least one game to be relocated. Spain had to call in a separate shadow squad of players after two of their top picks tested positive for the virus.
Despite all the chaos and exhaustion, the first game – Italy’s encounter with Turkey – brings with it a noticeable sparkle of excitement, melting logistical issues.
The Italian players were taken to Rome on Thursday evening in a specially decorated train. The opening ceremony at the Stadio Olimpico in the Italian capital is meant to bring back happy memories of the 1990 World Cup, the last major tournament the country hosted. And Belgium and England, two other favorites, are expected to play this weekend. It has been a long wait. The hope now is that it was worth it.
In Germany, Toni Kroos missed the start of Germany’s preparations after testing positive. In Russia, health officials say cases are on the rise in St. Petersburg, which will host seven games, and the national team cut a player on Friday after testing positive. The result came after Spain and Sweden each had two players who tested positive just days before their sides met in the group stage.
The coronavirus is stalking Euro 2020 even before a match has been played. The pandemic has already delayed the tournament for a year and forced officials to expand rosters and reduce crowd sizes in most cities. Yet the virus is still wreaking havoc.
Spain’s health ministry said this week it would provide vaccines to all players in the country’s national team after two – Sergio Busquets and Diego Llorente – tested positive on the eve of the tournament. The country’s soccer federation released a video documenting the shooting on Friday.
Así ha sido el proceso de vacunación de los jugadores de la @SeFutbol at the Ciudad del Fútbol de Las Rozas.
– Selección Española de Fútbol (@SeFutbol) June 11, 2021
“While this is great news for us, I hope we don’t have any negative effects before the game,” said midfielder Thiago, who was infected with Covid-19 last year.
Spain coach Luis Enrique, who has only named 24 players to his squad even though the rules allow 26, said on Thursday he still plans to use both players once they are cleared to play. . Llorente has since returned a negative test, raising hopes his first positive was false, and Busquets will be back after his 10-day quarantine, which ruled him out of Spain’s opener against Sweden on Monday.
“We will wait for him,” said Luis Enrique.
Russia has not been so patient. He cut winger Andrey Mostovoy after testing positive and replaced him with defender Roman Evgeniev. Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov said tests on Thursday night and Friday morning confirmed – at least for him – that no other player was affected.
“Everyone is clean,” he says.
Hungarian nationalist leader Viktor Orban had his say. British populist Prime Minister Boris Johnson also weighed in. The biggest Euro 2020 controversy so far has been over what happens in the final seconds before matches kick off, rather than what fans can expect when matches actually start. .
The debate – over whether players should kneel in solidarity with social justice movements ahead of games – has only intensified since the England squad were mocked by one side of his own fans for kneeling before two recent exhibition matches. The players have vowed to continue kneeling during the European Championship, starting with their opener against Croatia on Sunday in London. Prime Minister Johnson’s office, after initially saying fans had the right to boo them if they wanted to, turned the tide at the weekend and now says it supports the players’ gesture.
A few days ago, Johnson’s spokesperson said: “Taking the knee, specifically, the Prime Minister is more focused on the action than the gestures.”
Imagine that the optics of fans booing the players in the next few matches was not the one No10 wanted to side with.
– Sebastian Payne (@SebastianEPayne) June 11, 2021
Yet on Tuesday in Budapest, which will host Euro 2020 matches, the Irish national team were greeted with a cascade of taunts as their players knelt before a tune against Hungary. Orban stoked the controversy by accusing the Irish players of “provoking” home spectators.
“We cannot interpret this gesture in any other way, considering it from our cultural point of view, it is an incomprehensible thing, a provocation,” Orban said.
The problem will continue to be a flashpoint during the tournament. Scotland said on Friday that his side – who stopped kneeling in March – will join England in the gesture when the teams meet next week. “Given the events around the England national team, getting down on one knee in this tournament is a symbol of solidarity,” said Scotland captain Andy Robertson.
Tournament organizers have expressed quiet concern about the reaction kneeling players will receive in places where racism continues to be a major issue.
Anti-racist monitors will be present at more than 50 matches during the tournament, as part of a long-standing program of high-risk matches. Monitors will submit live reports to UEFA if they hear discriminatory language or see far-right banners or badges in stadiums.
The European Championship, widely regarded as the biggest football tournament after the World Cup, begins after a year of delay. Here are some basics of how to look and what you might see.
How can I watch?
In the US, the bulk of the games will be on ESPN, with a few on ABC. When two games are played simultaneously, one will run on ESPN2 instead. The games will also air on ESPN +. Univision owns the Spanish language rights in the United States.
Other broadcasters include Bell Media and TVA (Canada), BBC and ITV (Great Britain), Optus (Australia), M6 and TF1 (France), ARD and ZDF (Germany) and Wowow (Japan). Here is a complete list.
When are the games?
Italy and Turkey will kick off the tournament on Friday in Rome, and after that there will be multiple matches each day for two weeks. Until the third matches of each group of the first round, which are played simultaneously, no match will be played at the same time. The 16-team knockout round will start with two matches on June 26. The final will take place on July 11 in London.
(The South American championship, the Copa América, starts Sunday in Brazil, takes place simultaneously, and ends on the same day.)
Here is the full list of Euro 2020 matches and venues and some more details about the tournament, its format and history.
As today’s news marks the start of Euro 2020, the repercussions of the continent’s biggest club scene are not over.
Nearly two months after 12 elite clubs launched – then quickly abandoned – a breakaway Super League that would have swept away the centuries-old structures that underpin the sport, those foundations remain unclear.
European football’s governing body said this week it had suspended a disciplinary investigation against the three most hard-line rebel clubs: Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus. UEFA’s decision came after it finally received an injunction issued by a court in Madrid the day after the Super League launched on April 18.
The injunction – which was also sent to FIFA’s world governing body – prohibits any disciplinary action to be taken against Super League clubs. UEFA had threatened to ban the three refractories from the Champions League next season unless they give up on the failed plan, but failure to comply with the court order could have resulted in civil or criminal proceedings against UEFA and its senior officials.
UEFA said it would now try to overturn action taken by the Madrid court before resuming disciplinary action. “I just want to say that justice is sometimes slow, but it always happens,” UEFA president Aleksandar Ceferin told Italian broadcaster Rai ahead of the Euro 2020 opener in Rome on Friday.
Meanwhile, the six English clubs who joined the Super League on Thursday have reached a deal with the Premier League for their role. The teams – Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham – have agreed to collectively pay £ 22million ($ 31.1million) to fix the issue.
The league also announced that any team involved in a future breakaway attempt could face a fine of $ 35 million and a 30 league point deduction.