UEFA has no plans to replace Wembley as host stadium of the Euro 2020 semi-finals and final, European soccer's governing body said, after Italian premier Mario Draghi and others called for the final to be moved from Britain due to rising COVID-19 cases there.
The United Kingdom recorded 10,633 new cases of COVID-19 and five deaths on Monday, taking its toll to 4.63 million confirmed cases and 127,976 total deaths, according to a Reuters tally.
Case numbers have been rising due to the spread of the more contagious Delta variant first identified in India.
UEFA said on Friday it had a contingency plan to take the final away from Wembley unless the UK agreed to exempt travelling foreign fans from 10-day quarantine rules.
"UEFA, the English FA and the English authorities are working closely together successfully to stage the semi-finals and final of EURO in Wembley and there are no plans to change the venue for those games," a UEFA spokesperson said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.
Wembley is scheduled to host the semi-finals on July 6 and 7 before the July 11 final.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on UEFA on Tuesday to act responsibly regarding plans to hold the final in London due to safety concerns over the spread of the virus there.
The European Union's top lawmaker on health issues echoed her comments.
"Our health is priority. The spread of the Delta variant makes it impossible for 40,000 spectators to view the final match in London's stadium," Peter Liese said.
Italian PM Draghi said on Monday that he was in favour of hosting the final in Rome, rather than in "a country where infections are rising quickly".
The Times newspaper reported on Friday that Budapest was the alternative venue being considered if Wembley was not able to accept travelling supporters.
Liese urged UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin not to consider Budapest, however, on the grounds that it has been allowing a full capacity crowd into its stadium. He called on Ceferin to choose another location for the final, based solely on public health criteria.
Wembley to have crowd of 60,000 for Euro semis and final - UK govt
Crowd capacity at Wembley Stadium will be increased to more than 60,000 fans for the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020, the British government said on Tuesday.
The new levels mean the stadium will be at 75% capacity for the final three games, which conclude with the final on July 11.
All ticket holders will need to have either a negative COVID-19 test or proof of full vaccination - two doses received 14 days before the fixture.
The announcement came after Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called on Monday for the final to be moved from England due to rising COVID-19 cases in the country.
Wembley's capacity has been set at 22,500 for the three group and the round of 16 match between Italy and Austria on June 26 but will rise to 40,000 for the other round of 16 match on June 29 which could feature England.
"We are thrilled that more fans will now be able to walk through the Wembley turnstiles and enjoy the finals of Euro 2020," said culture secretary Oliver Dowden.
“As we continue to make progress on our roadmap out of lockdown, keeping the public safe remains our top priority. We have worked extremely closely with UEFA and the FA to ensure rigorous and tight public health measures are in place whilst allowing more fans to see the action live," he said.
UEFA has been negotiating with the UK government about relaxing quarantine restrictions on overseas fans travelling to London for games but there was no mention of any change in the statement.
Currently, COVID-19 regulations require visitors from most European countries to quarantine for 10 days after arriving in the UK.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin welcomed the increased capacity and thanked the UK government for the move.
“This tournament has been a beacon of hope to reassure people that we are returning to a more normal way of life and this is a further step along that road," he said.