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Europe is gearing up to enjoy one of its most eagerly awaited football tournaments in years, as it attempts to shrug off the impact of the pandemic on organised sports.

But the countries where the delayed Euro 2020 matches will be played vary significantly in terms of how badly hit they currently are by the virus.

And the cities that are hosting the group and knockout ties vary even more.

In all, 10 countries will play host to spectators, with football being played at 11 stadiums and arenas. In the United Kingdom, the both England’s national stadium, Wembley, and Scotland’s – Hampden Park – will be used.

Thousands of fans will still gather in stadiums, with many more expected to mix at meeting points in city centres. So far, two Spanish players, two Swedes and several Czechs have been among those testing positive before the European Championships have even begun.

The cities where matches will take place will be: Amsterdam, Baku, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome, St Petersburg and Seville.

Dublin and Bilbao were previously proposed as venues but UEFA’s Executive Committee met in late April and decided that, largely because of COVID rates, fans would have difficulties attending matches.

In any event, fans from across the continent will face all kinds of obstacles attending the matches in the remaining venues.

The capacities at most of the grounds are being cut to allow social distancing to take place, substantially reducing the number of seats available.

Below are some of the restrictions and problems anyone who wants to attend matches at the 11 grounds will face.

Much of what is listed for stadiums outside the UK is based the latest information received by UEFA from the local authorities and is constantly evolving and changing so should be checked against local government requirements:

Wembley, London

Three group matches, two last-16, two semi-finals and the final

Wembley Stadium, London
Wembley Stadium, London

Wembley has been the beneficiary of deteriorating COVID situations in other European countries, gaining several matches that were due to be played elsewhere.

But overseas fans wanting to come to London face all kinds of hurdles until the restrictions are finally relaxed.

Anyone from outside the Common Travel Area of the UK and Ireland must have a negative test in the 72 hours before arrival (assuming they are not a non-UK/Irish resident coming from a red list country, from where travel is banned) and then quarantine on arrival according to government requirements, having filled in a passenger locator form.

Everyone based in the UK going to the stadium, for the group matches at least, must have had an NHS test and trace approved negative lateral flow test or have proof of full vaccination using the government’s app.

Ticket holders based elsewhere must also have evidence of a negative lateral flow test.

Numerous other regulations will be in place for people able to enter the ground.

Hampden Park, Glasgow

Three group matches, one last-16

Hampden Park, Glasgow
Hampden Park, Glasgow

The rules for getting to Scotland from abroad are similar to those when arriving in England, with quarantine rules also in place for people coming from amber countries and there are specific restrictions on people coming from parts of northwest England and the Republic of Ireland.

Unlike in Wembley, fans attending matches at Hampden Park will not need proof of a negative COVID test to gain entry, but the Scottish government has said the policy will be reviewed if the situation changes.

Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam

Three group matches, one last-16

Anyone wanting to go to Ajax’s home ground will first have to check if they are allowed into the Netherlands.

The UK is not currently considered a “safe” country so a ban on entry applies, assuming someone is not a national of an EU country.

People from EU countries and selected other ‘exempt’ countries can still visit but the rules are complex and should be checked with the Dutch authorities.

Before going to the stadium, fans must have passed a free, bookable COVID test and then follow a number of other rules.

Olympic Stadium, Baku

Three group matches, one quarter final

The Olympic Stadium in Baku
The Olympic Stadium in Baku

To go to Azerbaijan, only people from Turkey, Switzerland, the UK and any relevant quarter-finalist country will be able to obtain a visa on arrival if they have a valid match ticket.

From 10 June, people from Russia and Turkey will be able to visit only if they have either passed a verified PCR COVID test or have proof of full vaccination.

Everyone else cannot enter the country to watch a match but, like Netherlands and all the countries on this list other than the home nations, Azerbaijan is on the UK’s amber list, meaning anyone visiting would be going against government advice and would have to quarantine on return.

Currently, a COVID-19 test will not be required for stadium entry in Baku.

National Stadium, Bucharest

Three group matches, one last-16

The UK is currently on Romania’s red list, which means that anyone wanting to go to the country, as well as following any appropriate immigration procedures, must provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or show evidence of immunity or provide a negative PCR test result and leave within 72 hours.

Several EU countries are on Romania’s amber and green lists, so visitors from those places will have to follow other rules.

All ticket holders attending group stage matches at the stadium must get a COVID-19 wristband before heading there, which requires a range of testing options.

Puskas Arena, Budapest

Three group matches, one last-16

The Puskas Arena in Budapest
The Puskas Arena in Budapest

At first glance, the Puskas Arena might look like a good option to see some high quality football, as the authorities have said they are allowing all of the seats to be occupied, making it the only venue that will be full to capacity.

But, while visitors to the ground might be able to lay their hands on a valid COVID test result – which is required to get the wristband necessary to enter the stadium – providing evidence of full UK vaccination – which is the other way to get one – is unlikely to be sufficient as the UK does not yet have a reciprocal arrangement with Hungary.

The above requirements are also necessary to enter Hungary.

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen

Three group matches, one last-16

People from the UK cannot currently enter Denmark unless they have a “worthy purpose for entry”, such as work, business or studies. Different rules are in place for people who live part or all of the time in the EU.

Anyone who makes it to the ground, will need to show a valid negative test result, proof of immunity or proof of full vaccination.

Football Arena, Munich

Three group matches, one quarter-final

The Football Arena Munich is also known as Bayern Munich's homeground of the Allianz Stadium
The Football Arena Munich is also known as Bayern Munich’s homeground of the Allianz Stadium

Germany has designated the UK an area where virus variants of concern exist and, therefore, travel is pretty much banned unless someone is German or has an exceptional excuse.

Those who do arrive from the UK are subject to a two-week quarantine.

Anyone who makes it to the stadium needs to show their valid ID and wear an FFP-2 face mask as well as carrying their ticket.

Olimpico Stadium, Rome

Three group matches, one quarter-final

Since 7 April, entry to Italy from the UK has no longer been restricted to Italian residents but measures continue to apply.

There is a requirement to present a negative test result or quarantine on arrival.

To enter the stadium, any ticket holders who are not Italian must provide a negative COVID-19 molecular or antigen test result that is not older than 48 hours at the time of kick-off (in Italian or English, in printed or electronic form).

Saint Petersburg Stadium, St Petersburg

Six group matches, one quarter-final

The Saint Petersburg Stadium
The Saint Petersburg Stadium

In April, the Russian government said nationals of various countries including the UK could now travel to Russia so long as they had the appropriate documents.

Normally a visa is required by UK citizens to enter Russia, but a travel exemption has been created and will be in place for all UEFA EURO 2020 games in Saint Petersburg. It will allow travelling fans from other nations with matchday tickets to enter Russia without a visa but with some additional necessary documents.

A FAN ID is required, along with proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test dated no earlier than three calendar days before arriving and those on international flights to Russia need a COVID-19 pre-travel screening form.

Stadium La Cartuja, Seville

Three group matches, one last-16

Spain is yet to set specific requirements for fans travelling to watch the football but generally UK residents are allowed to enter the amber-listed country subject to various requirements.

All passengers entering Spain are still required to complete a health control form before they travel and have to undergo various checks when they arrive.

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Kevin McCarthy: US House Speaker removed from office for first time in history




Kevin McCarthy: US House Speaker removed from office for first time in history

US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been removed from office after a historic challenge to his leadership from his own party.

The Republican faced a motion to vacate, which was triggered by Donald Trump ally Matt Gaetz on Monday, just months after securing the position in 15 rounds of voting.

It is the first time in the country’s history that House representatives have voted the Speaker out.

Behind closed doors early on Tuesday, Mr McCarthy told fellow Republicans: “If I counted how many times someone wanted to knock me out, I would have been gone a long time ago.”

Several Republicans, however, had said they were sticking with Mr McCarthy as they emerged from the meeting, during which they said he received standing ovations.

It follows a decision made by Mr McCarthy over the weekend to cooperate with the Democrats to keep the government running rather than risk a shutdown.

It is a move that angered Mr Gaetz and other far-right Republicans, as Mr McCarthy relied on Democratic votes to pass a temporary funding extension on Saturday that avoided a partial government shutdown.

A band of about 20 Republicans had forced Mr McCarthy’s hand by repeatedly blocking other legislation.

Mr Gaetz and his allies said they were frustrated by the slow pace of spending legislation on Mr McCarthy’s watch.

Republican Representative Tim Burchett, who said he would vote to oust Mr McCarthy, said: “We took a whole month of August off. I think that that’s pretty telling.”

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Another day of history in US politics

It’s political pantomime, without the laughs.

To look at the House of Representatives is to see the turbulence of America’s political ecosystem.

The ousting of Kevin McCarthy leaves the lower chamber of Congress in a state of paralysis.

There will be an interim Speaker but his or her role will effectively amount to finding a permanent replacement.

It is a dysfunction at the heart of power, an extension of the fault lines that fracture the modern-day Republican Party.

Never before has a House Speaker been ejected in this way, another day of history in US politics

The history-makers at the wheel have travelled a distance from the party fringes to positions of influence.

Matt Gaetz is the high-profile House representative who tabled the motion to oust McCarthy.

He’s prominent amongst a hard-line conservative core of House Republicans, Trump-aligned, and bent on reshaping party traditions and reorientating its trajectory to the right.

It is a tail that can wag the dog and this episode is clear evidence of it.

The rules dictate that just one representative – Mr Gaetz in this case – can trigger a vote to oust the Speaker.

That arrangement was a deal Mr McCarthy struck in January to appease his party’s right wing and enable his accession to the position of Speaker.

It didn’t look like clever politics by Mr McCarthy at the time and it looks even less so today.

Today, politics are harder in a party whose politics have changed.

Not all are convinced by Mr Gaetz’s intentions, with some Republicans believing he is angling for a change at a higher office.

“It seems very personal with Matt. It doesn’t look like he’s looking out for the country or the institution,” Mr McCarthy said.

Mr Gaetz has denied he is spurred on by a dislike of Mr McCarthy.

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‘Apocalyptic scene’ as coach crashes off overpass near Venice




'Apocalyptic scene' as coach crashes off overpass near Venice

At least 21 people have died in a coach crash near Venice in northern Italy, according to authorities.

Another 18 people were injured in the crash on Tuesday evening, with Italian police confirming there were tourists of “various nationalities” on board.

There were at least two children among the passengers, police added, while Venice’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, said they found Ukrainian passports at the scene.

“Several of the victims were foreigners, we found Ukrainian passports,” he said.

With rescue operations ongoing, the number of deaths could climb higher.

“The bus was rented for its guests by Camping Jolly in Marghera,” police said.

“On board, at the time of the accident, there were tourists of various nationalities. Also with them were at least two minors.”

Mr Brugnaro described the incident as a “terrible tragedy”.

“I immediately ordered the city to go into mourning, in memory of the many victims who were in the crashed bus,” he posted on social media.

“An apocalyptic scene, there are no words.”

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Several people have died in a coach crash near Venice in northern Italy

The coach fell close to railway lines after veering off a road in the district of Mestre, which is connected to Venice by a bridge, Italian television and news agencies reported.

According to Sky Italia, 18 bodies have so far been dragged from the wreckage after the coach fell 15 metres (49ft) onto electricity lines and caught fire.

The cause of the accident was still unclear, but one of Italy’s national police forces said officers are on the scene to investigate and to “give aid” to those hurt.

The railway is also “currently interrupted”.

The bus veered off a road. Pic: @poliziadistato via X
The bus veered off a road. Pic: @poliziadistato via X

Police officers are on the scene. Pic: @poliziadistato via X
Police officers are on the scene. Pic: @poliziadistato via X

Italy’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, said her thoughts are with the victims.

“I express my deepest condolences, my personal and that of the entire government, for the serious accident that occurred in Mestre,” she posted on social media.

“My thoughts are with the victims and their families and friends. I am in close contact with the Mayor Luigi Brugnaro and with the Minister (of the interior) Matteo Piantedosi to follow the news on this tragedy.”

Italy has suffered a number of deadly bus crashes in recent years.

In 2013, 40 people died when a bus plunged off a viaduct in southern Italy in one of the country’s worst road accidents.

Four years later, 16 people on a bus carrying Hungarian students died in an accident near the northern city of Verona.

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Thailand: Boy, 14, arrested as three shot dead in Bangkok’s Siam Paragon Mall




Thailand: Boy, 14, arrested as three shot dead in Bangkok's Siam Paragon Mall

A 14-year-old has been arrested after three people were shot dead in a Bangkok shopping centre.

Footage shows crowds fleeing the Siam Paragon Mall – a luxury complex in the Thai capital – while some hid inside.

Emergency services said three people had been killed and six wounded in the afternoon shooting.

The suspect is just 14 years old, according to police.

Photos show him pinned to the floor and being handcuffed and an officer picking up a gun.

One of the injured is reported to be a foreign national.

The teenager was cornered at nearby Siam Kempinski Hotel at around 5.10pm and surrendered without a struggle, Bangkok Post reported.

The central investigation bureau earlier shared a grainy image of him wearing a cap and khaki cargo trousers.

A suspected gunman is detained following shots fired at the luxury Siam Paragon shopping mall, in Bangkok
Pic: Thai rescue workers association/Reuters
A police officer collects a gun following shots fired at the luxury Siam Paragon shopping mall, in Bangkok, Thailand
Pic: Thai rescue workers association/Reuters
Pics: Thai rescue workers association/Reuters

The local Siam train stop was closed and people prevented from leaving the station as emergency services responded.

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Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin posted on X: “I am aware of the shooting event at Siam Paragon and have ordered the police to investigate. I am most worried about public safety,”

Authorities said later that the situation was under control.

Gun violence is common in Thailand. Last year, an ex-police officer killed 22 children in a nursery shooting.

In 2020, a disgruntled soldier killed at least 29 people and wounded 57 in a rampage in and around the city of Nakhon Ratchasima.

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