MOSCOW, April 23. /TASS/. The Russian city of Saint Petersburg will host three additional matches of the UEFA Euro Cup matches this summer after Ireland’s Dublin pulled out from the organization of the European football championship’s games, the press service of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) announced in a statement on Friday.
"The three Group E matches initially scheduled for Dublin, will be reallocated to the Saint Petersburg Stadium, which is already hosting three Group B matches and a quarter-final," the statement from the European governing football body reads.
"The Round of 16 match initially scheduled in Dublin, will be moved to Wembley Stadium in London," the statement added.
Saint Petersburg was initially granted the right to host three group stage matches and one of the quarterfinals of the 2020 UEFA Euro Cup and with the Dublin’s pullout and today’s UEFA decision, the stadium in Russia’s second largest city is now set to host seven matches of the much-awaited European football championship.
Spain’s Bilbao, which was also among the European hosts for the upcoming European football championship, announced its decision on Wednesday against hosting the matches as part of the municipal efforts against COVID-19.
"The four matches initially scheduled to take place in Bilbao, will be moved to the Estadio La Cartuja in Seville," UEFA’s statement reads. "Following the decision of the local authorities, it was clear that fans were very unlikely to be able to attend the matches that were scheduled to be played there.
"Therefore, with the assistance of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), UEFA proposed to move those matches to another venue in that host country, simply to allow fans to attend the games after a year of not being able to watch live football in stadiums," according to the statement.
Commenting on the decision to relocate matches to other venues, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said: "We have been working diligently with the host associations and local authorities to ensure a safe and festive environment at the games and I am really pleased that we are able to welcome spectators at all matches for a celebration of national team football across the continent."
"UEFA wishes to express its appreciation and gratitude to the cities of Bilbao and Dublin - both of which are considered as good venues to host future UEFA events - the national and regional governments of Spain and the Republic of Ireland, and all local stakeholders for their dedication, professionalism and efforts over the past years," Ceferin said.
"UEFA would also like to thank the Football Association of Ireland and its dedicated staff for their excellent collaboration and hard work, and is looking forward to continuing to work with the remaining eleven host associations in delivering UEFA EURO 2020 matches," the UEFA president added.
On March 17, 2020, 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.
The championship was rescheduled to be held between June 11 and July 11, 2021 and Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg is among 12 cities in Europe to host the European championship’s matches.
The newly built football arena in St. Petersburg hosted the opening and final matches of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and also served as one of 12 stadiums across the country hosting matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The over 62,300-seat capacity stadium was laid down in the western part of Krestovsky Island in St. Petersburg in 2007 and commissioned in early 2017. It serves as a home stadium for Zenit St. Petersburg football club.
A decision to hold the 2020 Euro Cup, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2020, in various European countries instead of in one or two hosting countries was made at the UEFA Executive Committee’s meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on December 6, 2012.