— Sports

Bilbao told by UEFA it’s been dropped as Euro 2020 host

MADRID (AP) – The Spanish city of Bilbao has been dropped by UEFA as a host for the upcoming European Championship, local authorities said Wednesday.

Bilbao was supposed to be one of 12 cities across the continent to host games for the tournament but had been unable to give UEFA guarantees that fans would be allowed into the stadium amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The city’s local organizers threatened to sue the European soccer body over its “unilateral” decision to drop Bilbao as a host. It had been scheduled to host Spain’s matches in Group E against Poland, Sweden, and Slovakia. It would also host a round-of-16 game.

Organizers published a seven-point letter saying they wouldn’t allow anyone to “damage the image” of Bilbao, which had been preparing for the tournament for more than six years with “professionalism and responsibility.” They said no one could question the capacity of the city and Basque Country to attract and organize the most varied types of events.

The Spanish soccer federation had said recently that the current pandemic situation in Bilbao made it impossible for fans to be allowed into matches based on the regulations established by health authorities in the northern Basque Country region, one of the hardest-hit the pandemic in Spain.

Other host cities for the June 11-July 11 tournaments have assured UEFA that spectators will be allowed into stadiums. UEFA recently gave Rome, Munich, Bilbao, and Dublin an extension to the deadline to guarantee fans being allowed into games. Last week, the Italian government gave the all-clear for a limited number of fans at the city’s venue, but Munich, Dublin, and Bilbao still haven’t offered guarantees.

UEFA’s executive committee is expected to make its final decision on Friday.

The Spanish federation recently offered Seville as an alternative to Bilbao, with games at the La Cartuja Stadium in the southern Andalusia region. The stadium was host to the Copa del Rey finals this month.

UEFA has used another stadium in Seville, Sevilla’s Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, as a replacement venue after the home team was eliminated from the Champions League. It hosted both legs of the Chelsea-Porto quarterfinal because of travel restrictions between England and Portugal.

The games in Bilbao would have taken place at Athletic Bilbao’s San Mamés Stadium.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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Molly Aronson

Molly Aronson is a 26-year-old government politician who enjoys bowling, running and jigsaw puzzles. She is creative and exciting, but can also be very greedy and a bit greedy.She is an australian Christian who defines herself as straight. She has a post-graduate degree in philosophy, politics and economics. She is allergic to grasshoppers.

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