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Brennan's brief How Covid pandemic has destroyed our chances of hosting part of a major soccer tournament


Aviva stadium is set to lose out on finals

Aviva stadium is set to lose out on finals

Aviva stadium is set to lose out on finals

The Covid pandemic will claim another victim tomorrow, the once-in-a-lifetime chance that Ireland could host part of a Major soccer Finals.

With the Government not yet committing to inter-county travel by June, there seems no way that 13,000 people, a quarter of its capacity, would be allowed to gather in the Aviva Stadium at the same time. And no way that the Government would allow people from Poland, Sweden and Slovakia to travel to see their teams play either.

So UEFA will pull the plug on what would have been the biggest international soccer matches ever seen in Ireland – if times were normal.

The Aviva did host the 2011 Europa League Final, when two Portuguese clubs, Porto and Braga, reached the decider. We might get that competition’s final back again, but a Champions League Final would have to go to Croke Park as the Aviva’s 52,000 seats are too few for the Champions League showpiece. No, this was as good as it might get in terms of big-match hosting.

Ireland not qualifying for Euro 2020 or Euro 2021, depending on what you want to call it, took a lot of the feel-good vibe out of the Aviva hosting the four games we were allotted at the Euros.

And we didn’t exactly bag three superstar nations to play here, with due respect to Robert Lewandowski’s Poland, Sweden with the returned Zlatan Ibramhimovic, and Slovakia - who knocked both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland out in the play-offs.

Where we will miss out in June is in the round of 16 match where the fall of the balls went Dublin’s way. The game in Dublin was to involve the winner of England’s group, surely either England or Croatia, versus the runner-up of the crazy strong group featuring the world champions France, the European champions Portugal and also Germany.

Can you imagine Dublin on the evening of June 29th next, a 5pm kick-off, England v Germany, or France v Croatia, that would be a repeat of the last World Cup Final for God’s sake.

Dublin is not alone in being likely to get the hosting chop tomorrow. Bilbao in Spain is also on the hit-list with matches likely to be moved to Seville, in a region where the Covid figures are much less than Bilbao.

Munich in Germany is the other host city where UEFA are not sure of being able to go ahead. There are plenty of alternative German cities who could host the matches from an organisational point of view.

But with all of Germany being put into a widespread lockdown this weekend, can football matches go ahead in that country in two months’ time with at least 25 per cent of the seats at the ground full? Wow, that’s dodgy.

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