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St Petersburg Prepares to Hold UEFA Euro 2020 Matches

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Russia Fan ID Euro 2020 matches

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

Saint Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, has prepared all the necessary infrastructure and facilities for hosting UEFA Euro 2020 matches this June and through July, according to information emerging from the office of City Governor Alexander Beglov.

The organizers assured that they would try to do everything to make the tournament as safe as possible. For those who have purchased tickets for football matches, it is enough to obtain a Fan ID. But before entering Russian territory, they will need to pass a coronavirus test. Fans who come to Russia for the European Championship will be able to stay in the country until July 12.

In addition to maintaining all the required security measures during the tournament, the City Administration also assured that the matches would be organized with strict adherence to safety measures for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. These measures worked out by the steering committee within the requirements set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“As far as general security is concerned, our law enforcement services work very well. They will have a command centre directly at the stadium,” Alexander Beglov told local Russian media in late May. “Training is underway, and we have the understanding of what to do and how it should be done. We have the experience of hosting various tournaments.”

In and around St. Petersburg, the venue for the matches, the playing fields have been prepared. “We have the main arena, and we have prepared three more venues – the Petrovsky and Turbostroitel stadiums, and the facility in Zelenogorsk, where teams will train. There will be fan zones on Konyushennaya Square and Palace Square. Besides, another fan zone will be set up near the Yubileyny (Sports Palace),” he said,” adding that, “All the necessary infrastructure is ready.”

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In March last year, UEFA announced a decision to postpone the 2020 UEFA Euro Cup for exactly one year as a preventive measure against the ongoing global spread of the novel coronavirus.

St. Petersburg was among the 12 cities initially proposed in Europe to host the European championship’s matches. It was granted the right to host three group stage matches and one of the quarterfinals of the UEFA Euro Cup. This was after Dublin (Ireland) and Bilbao (Spain) pulled out from the organization of the European football games citing anti-COVID-19 measures.

Overall, Russia’s second-largest city is scheduled to host the following matches: Belgium vs Russia (June 12), Poland vs Slovakia (June 14), Finland vs Russia (June 16), Sweden vs Slovakia (June 18), Finland vs Belgium (June 21), Sweden vs Poland (June 23) and a quarterfinal on July 2.

According to RIA Novosti report, the Head of the Government of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Mishustin, said that foreign fans would not need Russian visas to attend the European Football Championship in St. Petersburg and that corresponding order was already signed. In addition, UEFA official representatives, staff involved in the preparation and holding of the tournament, athletes and volunteers will get entry documents under the simplified procedure.

In order to attract fans as it was during the FIFA matches, Russia’s diplomatic missions abroad have started informing potential fans of the procedure for entering the Russian Federation during the Championships, specifically, how to obtain personal spectator cards or FAN IDs.

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Russia’s diplomatic missions abroad have received FAN ID samples and related pamphlets for fans. FAN IDs allow their holders to enter the Russian Federation multiple times visa-free from May 29, through July 2, and to exit from the Russian Federation multiple times. The visa is provided exclusively free of charge, that is without any payment of fees, from May 29 through July 12, 2021.

The Foreign Ministry has instructed Russia’s diplomatic missions abroad to issue high-priority visas to media representatives, participants in sporting events and certain other categories of foreign citizens planning to take part in the Championships.

During the weekly media briefing, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova discussed the situation about electronic visas to Russia. “It began with the FIFA World Cup. When football lovers, tourists and fans came to Russia despite spooky stories about Russia in Western media, they were shocked by the difference between what they had read and what they actually saw. They saw that our country is truly interesting, wonderful and spectacular,” she said at the briefing.

She, however, recalled how many people wanted to stay here longer and extended their visas and how many wanted to return. It was at that time that discussions began on the need to take relevant efforts to attract sports fans and change the negative social attitudes and image among foreigners.

The World Cup has left an indelible impression on the memory of many foreign fans who arrived in the country from all over the world. “I think the point here is not about our response to something, but about the desire to show what we really are, our country and give people an opportunity to decide for themselves,” explained Zakharova.

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Significant to recall here that at the end of the last FIFA World Cup, President Vladimir Putin said: “We prepared responsibly for this major event and did our best so that fans could immerse themselves in the atmosphere of a magnificent football festival and, of course, enjoy their stay in Russia – open, hospitable, friendly Russia – and find new friends, new like-minded people.”

FIFA World Cup also ran in summer, from June 14 to July 15, in ten (10) different cities in Russia. The foreign fans who received Fan IDs and purchased tickets for the matches went to Russia without visas. After the World Cup, President Putin declared that the Fan ID holders would have the right to visit repeatedly visa-free until the end of that year.

UEFA Euro Cup is set in 11 cities, namely in London (England), Munich (Germany), Rome (Italy), Baku (Azerbaijan), Saint Petersburg (Russia), Bucharest (Romania), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Budapest (Hungary), Glasgow (Scotland), Copenhagen (Denmark) and Seville (Spain). The European Championship 2020, for the first time, played in different countries. The tournament includes 12 cities in honour of the anniversary of the competition. The European Championship in 2020 marked 60 years.

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CAS Reduces Samson Siasia’s Life Ban to 5 Years

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Samson Siasia

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has reduced the life ban of former Nigerian national team coach, Samson Siasia, for a match-fixing affair to five years.

The court ruled that the life ban, imposed by the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) in April 2019 after Mr Siaisia was found guilty of agreeing to join a match-fixing ring in 2010, was “disproportionate”.

The CAS ruling upheld the guilty verdict but reduced the length of the ban and set aside the additional fine of 50,000 Swiss francs ($54,000).

In a statement, the Court ruled that “The panel determined the imposition of a life ban to be disproportionate for a first offence which was committed passively and which had not had an adverse or immediate effect on football stakeholders.”

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CAS added that a five-year ban would be placed on the former Super Eagle player, saying that the fine was dropped as the panel felt it would be inappropriate and excessive on top of the ban, noting that Mr Siasia had not benefitted financially and had been hit in the pocket by not being able to work in football.

It wrote, “The imposed fine of CHF 50,000 on Mr Siasia is set aside. The panel determined the imposition of a life ban to be disproportionate for a first offence which was committed passively and which had not had an adverse or immediate effect on football stakeholders, and that a five-year ban would still achieve the envisaged aim of punishing the infringement committed by Mr Siasia.

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“The panel acknowledged the need for sanctions to be sufficiently high enough to eradicate bribery and especially match-fixing in football.

“However, the panel considered in the particular circumstances of this matter that it would be inappropriate and excessive to impose a financial sanction in addition to the five-year ban, since the ban sanction already incorporated a financial punishment in eliminating football as a source of revenue for Mr Siasia, and considering that Mr Siasia had not obtained any gain or pecuniary benefit from his unethical behaviour.”

His suspension from any football-related activity nationally or internationally is backdated to August 16, 2019, and runs until 2024.

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The former striker played 51 times for Nigeria, including at the 1994 World Cup, and won a French Championship medal with Nantes in 1995.

He was the coach of Nigeria between 2010 and 2011 and took the Nigerian U-23 team to the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Mr Siasia was caught after a wider investigation involving Mr Wilson Raj Perumal, who confessed to international match-fixing.

Mr Perumal, a Singaporean national, was arrested and jailed in Finland in 2011 for fixing top-tier football games in his country to which he later collaborated with investigators to name others.

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CAF Approves 5,000 Fans for African Champions League Semifinals

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African Champions League Semifinals

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has given the green light that up to 5,000 fans will be allowed to attend Saturday’s African Champions League semifinals in Tunisia and Morocco.

In a statement issued on Friday, the African football body said the decision was arrived at after receiving an application from the host member and approvals from governmental and health authorities of the respective host nations.

Morocco and Tunisia are two countries that have some of the highest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths on the continent.

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Four-time winners Esperance de Tunis host defending champions Al Ahly at the Stade Olympique De Rades, Tunis, while two-time winners Wydad Athletic Club host Kaizer Chiefs at Complexe Mohamed V Stadium, Casablanca.

“CAF has stressed that all medical precautions should be followed at all times in respect to CAF Covid-19 health protocols,” the statement said.

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The return legs are scheduled to take place on June 26.

Prior to Saturday’s games, continental games involving clubs and countries in Africa have been behind closed doors or opened to a limited audience in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Esperance defeated Algeria’s CR Belouizdad in the quarter-finals on a penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 aggregate score. The club will be focused on stopping Egyptian giants Ah Ahly who have won the Champions League for a record nine times.

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The Red Devils stopped Mamelodi Sundowns with a 3-1 aggregate win, which started with a 2-0 victory in the first leg.

Elsewhere in Casablanca, Wydad, who grabbed a late goal to send MC Alger packing with a 2-1 aggregate win in May, will aim to go beyond the semi-final this year when they battle South African giants, Kaizer Chiefs.

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Euro 2020 Kicks-Off Amid COVID-19 Threat (Full Fixtures)

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Euro 2020

By Adedapo Adesanya

Following a year delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Euro 2020 will finally kick off on Friday (today), with the virus still a major issue that organisers have to contend with.

Unlike other previous editions of the continent-wide event held in one country or jointly hosted, the tournament would be held across Europe and will be played in front of limited crowds and with strict health restrictions in place.

The tournament, the 16th of its kind, will feature 24 teams – 20 from automatic qualification and the remaining four decided through the play-offs.

It will be held across 11 different cities in Europe, with UEFA celebrating the 60th birthday of the first European Championship (then called the European Nations Cup), which was held in France in 1960.

For the first time in the history of the competition, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will be used.

Cities, Stadium, and Capacity

City Stadium Capacity
Amsterdam, Netherlands Johan Cruyff Arena 56,000
Baku, Azerbaijan Olympic Stadium 68,700
Bucharest, Romania Arena Nationala 55,600
Budapest, Hungary Ferenc Puskas Stadium 67,889
Copenhagen, Denmark Parken Stadium 38,065
Glasgow, Scotland Hampden Park 52,063
London, England Wembley Stadium 90,000
Munich, Germany Allianz Arena 75,000
Rome, Italy Stadio Olimpico 72,698
Saint Petersburg, Russia Krestovsky Stadium 68,134
Seville, Spain La Cartuja 60,000

St Petersburg will have a stadium capacity of 50 per cent of fans in attendance, with the number potentially increasing before the tournament start date.

Budapest plans to hold supporters in full capacity, though they will have to comply with strict entry requirements.

Baku will have a stadium capacity of 50 per cent. Fans will be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test before entering Azerbaijan.

Amsterdam, Bucharest, Copenhagen and Glasgow have confirmed a capacity of 25 per cent to 33 per cent. All three cities will potentially increase their capacity by May, based on the success of their vaccine rollout and local COVID-19 situation.

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London will have a minimum capacity of 25 per cent for the three group matches and the round of 16 matches. They are also optimistic about having an increased stadium attendance for both the semi-finals and final.

Munich, Rome, Bilbao, Dublin as at press time are yet to provide additional details on their attendance plans.

Match ball, Mascot, & Slogan

The Uniforia ball, designed by Adidas, will serve as the match ball for all Euro 2020 matches.

The ball is mostly white and includes multi-coloured black strokes with additional blue, neon and pink stripes.

The name of the ball is taken from the combination of the words “unity” and “euphoria”.

Official Song

Dutch DJ Martin Garrix will be performing the tournament’s official song, which will be unveiled at the full opening ceremony in Rome at the Stadio Olimpico.

Matches Schedule

Matchday 1

11 June 2021

Match 1: Turkey vs Italy

Stadio Olympico, Rome, Italy

12 June 2021

Match 2: Wales vs Switzerland

Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan

Match 3: Denmark vs Finland

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark

Match 4: Belgium vs Russia

Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia

13 June 2021

Match 5: England vs Croatia

Wembley Stadium, London, England

Match 6: Austria vs North Macedonia

Arena Nationala, Bucharest, Romania

Match 7: Netherlands vs Ukraine

Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands

14 June 2021

Match 8: Scotland vs Czech Republic

Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland

Match 9: Poland vs Slovakia

Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Match 10: Spain vs Sweden

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La Cartuja, Seville, Spain

15 June 2021

Match 11: Hungary vs Portugal

Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary

Match 12: France vs Germany

Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany

Matchday 2

16 June 2021

Match 13: Finland vs Russia

Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Match 14: Turkey vs Wales

Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan

Match 15: Italy vs Switzerland

Stadio Olympico, Rome, Italy

17 June 2021

Match 16: Ukraine vs North Macedonia

Arena Nationala, Bucharest, Romania

Match 17: Denmark vs Belgium

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark

Match 18: Netherlands vs Austria

Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands

18 June 2021

Match 19: Sweden vs Slovakia

Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Match 20: Croatia vs Czech Republic

Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland

Match 21: England vs Scotland

Wembley Stadium, London, England

19 June 2021

Match 22: Hungary vs France

Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary

Match 23: Portugal vs Germany

Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany

Match 24: Spain vs Poland

La Cartuja, Seville, Spain

Matchday 3

20 June 2021

Match 25: Italy vs Wales

Stadio Olympico, Rome, Italy

Match 26: Switzerland vs Turkey

Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan

21 June 2021

Match 27: Ukraine vs Austria

Stadio Olympico, Rome, Italy

Match 28: North Macedonia vs Netherlands

Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Match 29: Russia vs Denmark

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark

Match 30: Finland vs Belgium

Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia

22 June 2021

Match 31: Croatia vs Scotland

Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland

Match 32: Czech Republic vs England

Wembley Stadium, London, England

23 June 2021

Match 33: Sweden vs Poland

Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Match 34: Slovakia vs Spain

La Cartuja, Seville, Spain

Match 35: Portugal vs France

Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary

Match 36: Germany vs Hungary

Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany

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ROUND OF 16

26 June 2021

Round of 16 tie 1: Runner-up Group A vs Runner-up Group B

Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Round of 16 tie 2: Winner Group A vs Runner-up Group C

8pm

Wembley Stadium, London, England

27 June 2021

Round of 16 tie 3: Winner Group C vs 3rd Group D/E/F

Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary

Round of 16 tie 4: Winner Group B vs 3rd Group A/D/E/F

San Mames, Bilbao, Spain

28 June 2021

Round of 16 tie 5: Runner-up Group D vs Runner-up Group E

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark

Round of 16 tie 6: Winner Group F vs 3rd Group A/B/C

Arena Nationala, Bucharest, Romania

29 June 2021

Round of 16 tie 7: Winner Group D vs Runner-up Group F

Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Round of 16 tie 8: Winner Group E vs 3rd Group A/B/C/D

Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland.

QUARTER-FINALS

2 July 2021

Quarter-final 1: Round of 16 tie 6 winner vs Round of 16 tie 5 winner

Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Quarter-final 2: Round of 16 tie 4 winner vs Round of 16 tie 2 winner

Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany.

3 July 2021

Quarter-final 3: Round of 16 tie 3 winner vs Round of 16 tie 1 winner

Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan.

Quarter-final 4: Round of 16 tie 8 winner vs Round of 16 tie 7 winner

Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy.

SEMI-FINALS

July 6 2021

Semi-final 1: Quarter-final 2 winner vs Quarter-final 1 winner

Wembley Stadium, London, England.

July 7 2021

Semi-final 2: Quarter-final 4 winner vs Quarter-final 3 winner

Wembley Stadium, London, England.

FINAL

July 11 2021

Final: Semi-final 1 winner vs Semi-final 2 winner

Wembley Stadium, London, England.

The action kicks off tonight at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, where Italy take on Turkey in front of 16,000 fans.

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