Euro 2020 experiment proves a hit on the pitch, less so off it

July 14

IT began with Italian celebrations in Rome and ended with Italian celebrations at Wembley.

This European Championship finally concluded with Italy’s penalty shoot-out win over England, a year after the tournament was postponed due to the health crisis.

The incidents when ticketless fans tried to break through ticket barriers at Wembley, leading to violent scenes, may have tarnished Sunday’s final in London.

But overall Euro 2020 was an uplifting tournament for the football on the pitch and it marked the return of spectators on a large scale for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.

The intervening 12 months since the tournament was postponed saw football played almost entirely behind closed doors — contrast that with the official crowd of 67,173 at the final, and more without tickets who stormed their way into the stadium.

Organizers will have questions to answer about why more was not done to control the crowds, especially with virus cases in the United Kingdom surging.

Euro 2020 was an experiment, a major tournament held for the first time all across Europe, with 11 host cities as far apart as Seville and Baku.

That led to enormous variations on the number of spectators at games, from the crowds in London and the full houses in Budapest to sparse attendances elsewhere, in Azerbaijan and Glasgow, as supporters found it almost impossible to travel to certain countries. — AFP