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EURO 2020 host Romania gets uncanny off-pitch action




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Romania has hosted the first two out of the four matches scheduled to take place in Bucharest during the EURO 2020 tournament, writes Cristian Gherasim, Bucharest correspondent.

Despite its national team being unable to qualify for EURO 2020, the first match hosted in Romania’s capital city saw some off-pitch scandals.

First, there was the diplomatic row which began with North Macedonia’s jersey worn during the match against Austria.


Macedonia had recently changed its name to Northern Macedonia, after many years in which the country was in conflict with Greece over name issues.

Now, Athens officials are complaining that the equipment used by Northern Macedonia at EURO 2020 does not have the current full name of the country embroidered on it.

Greek Sports Minister Lefteris Avgenakis sent a letter to UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin requesting that the full name of Northern Macedonia be present on the EURO 2020 jerseys.


Also the Greek foreign minister stepped in requesting his north Macedonian counterpart that North Macedonia’s football team respect the agreement by which the name of this former Yugoslav republic was changed. In the letter, Greek Minister Dendias stressed that the Northern Macedonia team cannot play in the European Championship under the acronym MKD, and another should be used to reflect the official name, such as NM (Northern Macedonia).

The issue of country symbols during the EURO 2020 came into debate before even the tournament started. Prior to the Macedonian name scandal, Russia and Ukraine locked horns, Russia being unhappy with the symbols and inscriptions on the shirts of Ukrainian players which show the country’s borders to include Crimea and the slogan "Glory to Ukraine!" Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and considers it a part of its territory, something rejected internationally.

But the off pitch action during the first match hosted by Bucharest didn’t stop with North Macedonia’s diplomatic row.

Local media reported that while Romania’s top former footballers were left seated in the stands, local politicians, such as head of Romania’s Chamber of Deputies, the president of the Romanian Senate and the mayor of Bucharest were placed up top, in the VIP boxes. Many Romanians regarded this as an insult to those sportsmen who decades ago helped the national football team gain decent results during final football tournaments.

Romania hasn’t qualified for any major football tournament in over two decades, with the exception of EURO 2008.


FA condemns racist abuse of players after England's Euro 2020 final loss




England's Football Association (FA) released a statement in the early hours of Monday morning (12 July) condemning the online racist abuse of players following the team's penalty shootout loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday (11 July), write Philip O'Connor, Shrivathsa Sridhar and Kanishka Singh, Reuters.

The sides drew 1-1 after extra time and Italy won the shootout 3-2, with England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who are all Black, missing spot-kicks.

"The FA strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and is appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media," the statement said.


"We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team. We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible."

The England team also released a statement condemning the abuse directed at its players on social media.

"We're disgusted that some of our squad - who have given everything for the shirt this summer - have been subjected to discriminatory abuse online after tonight's game," the team tweeted.


British police said they would investigate the posts.

"We are aware of a number of offensive and racist social media comments being directed towards footballers following the #Euro2020 final," the Metropolitan Police tweeted.

"This abuse is totally unacceptable, it will not be tolerated and it will be investigated."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the team deserved to be lauded as heroes and not racially abused on social media.

"Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves," Johnson tweeted.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called on social media companies to remove such content from their platforms.

"Those responsible for the disgusting online abuse we have seen must be held accountable - and social media companies need to act immediately to remove and prevent this hate," Khan said in a tweet.

Arsenal sent a message of support to their winger Saka while Rashford was backed by his club Manchester United.

"Football can be so cruel. But for your personality ... your character ... your bravery ... We'll always be proud of you. And we can't wait to have you back with us," Arsenal tweeted.

United said they looked forward to welcoming Rashford home, adding: "One kick won't define you as a player or person."

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German minister slams UEFA's decision on fuller stadiums



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German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer speaks during a news conference with head of the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution Thomas Haldenwang in Berlin, Germany June 15, 2021. Michael Sohn/Pool via REUTERS

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (pictured) called a decision by European soccer's governing body UEFA to allow big crowds at Euro 2020 "utterly irresponsible" especially given the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, writes Emma Thomasson, Reuters.


Seehofer told a news conference that UEFA appeared to have been driven by commercial considerations, which he said should not rank above health concerns.

He said it was inevitable that a match with 60,000 spectators - the number UEFA will allow at London's Wembley stadium for the Euro 2020 semifinals and final - would promote the spread of COVID-19, especially given the Delta variant.

Nearly 2,000 people who live in Scotland have attended a Euro 2020 event while infectious with COVID-19, officials said on Wednesday. Thousands of Scots came to London for their game against England in the UEFA European Football Championship group stage on June 18. read more


At least 300 Finns who went to cheer on the national team at the Euro 2020 soccer tournament have contracted COVID-19, health officials said on Tuesday (29 June).

The daily infection rate in Finland has gone up from around 50 a day to more than 200 in the past week, and the figure is likely to grow in the coming days, they said. Read more.

Last week, Russian authorities blamed the new Delta variant for a surge in both new infections and deaths in major cities including St. Petersburg, which is due to host a quarter final today (2 July). Read more.

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What’s Eastern Europe getting from EURO 2020?



EURO 2020 takes European football to 12 different cities, four of which are in eastern Europe, writes Cristian Gherasim, Bucharest correspondent. Baku, Bucharest, Budapest and Sankt Petersburg have all hosted EURO 2020 matches, but what does that mean from a cultural and economic standpoint?

Making the decision the stretch the tournament throughout almost an entire continent wasn’t an easy one but it was based on the idea that more of Europe should take part in organizing, hosting and enjoying the tournament.

The idea came to light 8 years ago, back when Michel Platini was Uefa president. He wanted to have a tournament for the entire continent, 'Euros for Europe', and that’s what he got nine years later. Yet the trouble of hosting the tournament in uncharted territories such as it was the case in 2016 with Poland and Ukraine being the hosts, can prove fatal.


A mix between west and east proved more enticing, particularly useful in bringing smaller countries to the table.

EURO 2020 has no host nation, but a myriad of organizing cities.

2021, the year of EURO 2020, saw several questions emerge: will eastern Europe be up to the task of organizing such a large scale event and how much would the local economy gain from this? Also, would we see an eastern or central European nation take home the coveted trophy?


With Czech Republic still in the game after a spectacular win in the knockout stage over the Netherlands, tournament favorites , Central Europe might see its first ever team edging towards the Henri Delaunay Trophy.

So far, host nations in central and eastern Europe have done a decent job in seeing the tournament through.

On Monday, 28 June, Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, hosted its last match out of the four allocated for this city. This is particularly important since this is a round of 16 fixture, pitting France against Switzerland, with a spectacular win from Switzerland.

For Bucharest, and the host nation of Romania, organizing a first ever large scale event can have its economic benefits, especially after the hospitality industry was hard hit by the COVID-19 restrictions.

From a financial point of view, organizing EURO 2020 tournament is a benefit for the host country and city. The expenses of the capital's mayor's office for organizing the four games on the National Arena Stadium was 14 million Ron, close to €3m.

It is yet unclear how much Bucharest would win from the tournament, but bars and terraces throughout the city have been full to brim with supporters of the teams competing on the pitch.

According to an analysis, with only 13,000 spectators in the stands, 25% of the capacity of the National Arena, Bucharest gets €3.6m from ticket sales. With bars, restaurants and hotels, the capital of Romania could get an additional €14.2m.

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