Uefa have officially stripped Dublin of its hosting of four Euro 2020 matches with the games being moved to St Petersburg and Wembley.
Following a meeting of their executive committee on Friday morning, Uefa confirmed to the FAI that the four games have been moved due to the public health situation in Ireland. Uefa had required an assurance of a minimum of 25 per cent spectator attendance at each game which the Irish Government was unable to meet.
Uefa also confirmed to the FAI that they are “welcoming a candidature by Dublin to host one of the European club finals after 2023”.
Dublin was one of 12 cities granted staging rights in 2014 as part of a new format to mark the tournament’s 60th anniversary but the pandemic threw arrangements into disarray.
After being forced to postpone the showpiece by 12 months, Uefa sought guarantees from the respective governments of minimum spectator numbers amid the vaccination programme being rolled out at various speeds across Europe.
Nine of the cities confirmed their compliance with the demand to accommodate a 25 percent capacity by last Monday’s deadline, leaving Dublin, Bilbao and Munich with four extra days to resolve matters locally.
The Germans have availed of the extension to provide the sufficient assurances, while there was an element of success for the Spanish federation in ensuring their games were moved from the Basque region to Seville, where the Covid outlook is slightly better.
No such progress was between the FAI, Dublin City Council and National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).
Given their reluctance so far to even approve a test event proposed by Leinster Rugby, whereby 2,000 fans who pass a rapid antigen test are admitted into the RDS for a match in May, the notion of 11,500 congregating also in Dublin 4 three weeks later wasn’t even countenanced.
The three Group E matches - Poland v Slovakia on June 14th, Sweden v Slovakia four days later and the meeting of Poland and the Swedes on the final day of the group stage, June 23rd - will be reassigned to St Petersburg, which had committed a 50 percent capacity for the four matches they were previously granted.
Ticket revenue constitutes a major driver of Uefa's selection criteria, with Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin ruling out earlier in the year any prospect of matches being held behind closed doors.
The fourth game, the last-16 tie on June 29th, will now be played in Wembley.
Wembley Stadium had already secured the hosting of seven matches, including the semi-finals and finals.
“This is disappointing news for our own FAI staff and for so many people who have been working tirelessly on the project for over seven years now including our bid partners at Dublin City Council, Government and the Aviva Stadium and we want to thank them, the LOS team and all our partners for their support and in particular our 1200 volunteers,” said FAI CEO Jonathan Hill.
“Let’s be clear we were ready to host the games if we were allowed to but the reality is that since the turn of the year the pandemic situation here in Ireland has worsened rather than improved and much as Uefa wanted to have fans in our stadia, the Government, as hard as they tried, couldn’t find a way to allow us to have the 25 per cent that Uefa wanted. In the end, as we have done across the last 12 months we respected the Government’s position and ultimately public safety is the most important thing.”