German Interior Minister Calls European Soccer Organization ‘Irresponsible’

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Thursday the Union of European Football Associations’ (UEFA) decision to hold its tournament in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic was “absolutely irresponsible.”

The Euro Cup 2020 tournament has been underway for about two weeks, with games held throughout Europe. The semifinal and championship rounds are scheduled to be played in Britain’s Wembley Stadium next week with at least 60,000 spectators expected.

With COVID-19 restrictions varying from nation-to-nation, crowd sizes for the tournament have ranged from completely full — 60,000 in Budapest — to 25-45% capacity in other venues where there have often been around 10,000-15,000 spectators, Reuters reports.

During Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing in Berlin, along with German Health Minister Jens Spahn, Seehofer said living during the pandemic, especially in Britain where the highly contagious delta variant has caused surges in new cases, taking precautions against contact and maintaining hygiene regulations are “indispensable.”

Spahn said nations like Britain, where a high number of people have received only the first of two vaccinations, the delta variant has led to an increase in infections. He said he expects the variant to be the dominant strain Germany by the end of July, accounting for as much as 80% of all new infections.

Seehofer said he suspects the decision to hold the tournament was more about commerce than protection and urged the UEFA “not to push off” the decision to limit crowd sizes at their matches on local hosts and instead make the decision themselves.

Earlier this week the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, called on the UEFA to “carefully analyze” its decision regarding next week’s finals at Wembley.

Source: Voice of America