There will be no Euro-2020 matches at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao, Basque organizers announced in a statement on Wednesday evening, after receiving a letter from UEFA during the day which noted the withdrawal from the Basque host city.
Bilbao was one of the 12 host cities selected by UEFA to host matches for Euro-2020 (rescheduled from 11 June to 11 July 2021 due to the pandemic), but the overly strict sanitary conditions imposed by the Basque host city to ensure the presence of the public made UEFA back down.
In a long press release criticizing UEFA's "unilateral" decision to withdraw the organization of the four matches scheduled at the San Mamés stadium (the three matches of the group stage of Spain and a round of 16), the organizers Basques have shown their dissatisfaction.
"We are not going to allow the long and rich experience and capacity of the Basque authorities to be called into question for the management and organization of events on an international scale. We are not going to allow any doubts about the criteria to remain. which were decided in this project, "said the organizers in their press release, arguing that they acted" with seriousness and responsibility "in the face of the pandemic.
Members of Bilbao's bid to host Euro-2020 also asked UEFA to send them "in writing what are the points of the contract that we have not respected", as well as "the point of the contract which mentions the possibility of changing the host city without consulting, communicating or working with this host city ", but consider that there is" no convincing explanation ".
The organizers (city of Bilbao, Basque regional government and other local authorities) have also started legal proceedings to request reimbursement of the costs incurred (EUR 1.2 million according to the press release) and of the damage caused by this decision.
"Bilbao will not be the host city of Euro-2020 but (we want) to be clear: we neither accept nor will accept threats, grievances, denigration, and even less the fact of freeing ourselves from all of them. the standards which govern, in this period, the measures to ensure the health of our fellow citizens ", supported the organizers.
The Euro must be disputed in an unprecedented configuration, in twelve cities in different countries.
The semi-finals and the final, in particular, are scheduled in London.
© 2021 AFP