German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has sharply criticized European football’s governing body UEFA for allowing large crowds at Euro 2020 matches amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Germany has permitted a limited number of fans into Munich’s stadium but London’s Wembley had over 40,000 for England’s 2-0 win over the Germans in the last 16.
“I consider the position of UEFA to be absolutely irresponsible,” Seehofer told a news conference on Thursday.
“We all know that contact avoidance and certain hygiene rules are indispensable to overcome infections.”
When you see pictures of “people being very close to each other” and “celebrating successes with big hugs”, Seehofer added, it is “preordained that this will promote the occurrence of infections”.
For the semi-finals and final at Wembley, 60,000 spectators are to be admitted despite a sharp rise in coronavirus figures in Britain because of the Delta variant.
UEFA and British officials say a high vaccination rate protects most people and testing is meant to stop infected fans from entering the stadium.
But Scottish figures this week showed 397 people who attended Scotland’s clash with England at Wembley on June 18 were positive for Covid-19 and there have been several cases elsewhere at games with St Petersburg especially hit.
Commercialism should “not overshadow the protection of the population against infection”, Seehofer continued.
On Wednesday, Karl Lauterbach, a health expert in the German parliament said: “UEFA is responsible for the deaths of many people.”
UEFA’s medical chief Daniel Koch was quoted by Britain’s PA news agency as saying it “cannot be excluded” that there will be Covid-19 cases linked to matches at Euro 2020.
But he said the same applies to any number of gatherings now permitted as restrictions ease across the continent.
He added that UEFA has ruled out any changes to the match schedule or capacity limits.