July 26, 2021

60,000 spectators at Wembley, despite the pandemic

When Scotland faces England at Wembley Stadium (London) on June 18, for the qualifying group matches for Euro 2021, Scottish supporters only get 2,600 places, health care requires. Among the lucky ones elected to obtain one of the few tickets available, 397 tested positive for Covid-19 in the days following the meeting, or 15% of them.

Football, with its cheering crowds hugging each other, is it a source of super-contamination? The question arises as Wembley prepares to receive 60,000 spectators for the semi-finals of Euro 2021 on Tuesday and Wednesday 6 and 7 July, or two thirds of the capacity of the London stadium. For the England-Scotland match, the gauge was still limited to 22,500 spectators.

Passing through the United Kingdom for an official visit on Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel estimated this level “Very disturbing” : “I wonder if that doesn’t sound a bit too much. “ His interior minister, Horst Seehofer, for his part speaks of an attitude “Completely irresponsible”, a comment that targeted London, but also Budapest, where the stadium also received 60,000 people.

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The decision by the British authorities to open their stadium widely comes as the latest statistics in the United Kingdom show a strong resurgence of the virus. More than 20,000 people are tested positive every day, the same level as at the end of October, which had, at the time, prompted the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to institute a second lockdown.

However, the situation is very different. In the UK, 64% of adults are vaccinated with two doses, to which must be added 22% who received a first dose.

Relatively closed borders

The end of all restrictions, starting July 19, will include the full opening of the stadiums. Theoretically, the Premier League season, which starts in August, should therefore resume ” normally “.

Moreover, the study by the Scottish health authorities does not say that the supporters were necessarily infected in the stadium. Most of them descended for two or three days in London, celebrating non-stop. Several thousand other members of the Tartan Army (Scottish fans), without tickets, had come to the British capital to party. Among them, the Scottish authorities have recorded 900 positive cases. Clearly, drinking alcohol and singing in a group for three days is an obvious source of contamination, whether you enter the stadium or not.

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