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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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Kamala Harris: US vice president says there must be ‘immediate ceasefire’ in Gaza and more aid – as Israel ‘boycotts’ talks




Kamala Harris: US vice president says there must be 'immediate ceasefire' in Gaza and more aid - as Israel 'boycotts' talks

US vice president Kamala Harris has said there must be an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza as she called on the Israeli government to do more to increase the flow of aid, with “no excuses”.

Ms Harris said a six-week ceasefire would get Israeli hostages out and get a significant amount of aid into the war-ravaged Palestinian territory.

She said people were “starving” and Israel needed to increase the flow of aid to ease what she described as “inhumane” conditions and a “humanitarian catastrophe”. Her comments are among the strongest by a senior US official over the crisis.

Middle East latest – Houthis vow to sink British ships

The vice president also said there is a “deal on the table” and Hamas “needs to agree to that”.

“Let’s get a ceasefire. Let’s reunite the hostages with their families. And let’s provide immediate relief to the people of Gaza,” she said.

Although a Hamas delegation is in Egypt for the latest truce talks, Israel has reportedly boycotted them.

More on Egypt

Israeli media says it is because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not got an answer from Hamas on two questions – a list of hostages who are alive in Gaza and the number of Palestinian prisoners Hamas wants released in exchange for each hostage.

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Gaza: Doctors set up clinics in streets

Ms Harris is on Tuesday due to meet top Israeli politician Benny Gantz, who will also have talks in Washington with US secretary of state Antony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, and Republican and Democratic members of Congress.

Although Mr Gantz is in Mr Netanyahu’s war cabinet, he is also a centrist political rival and is thought to have been rebuked by the Israeli prime minister for those planned discussions in America.

An official from Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party said Mr Gantz’s visit was not authorised by the leader.

And the PM had a “tough talk” with Mr Gantz about the trip and told him the country has “just one prime minister”, according to the official.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and war cabinet minister Benny Gantz. File pic: Reuters
(L-R) Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and war cabinet member Benny Gantz. File pic: Reuters

Mr Gantz had told the PM of his intention to travel to the US and to co-ordinate messaging with him, added an official.

US efforts in the region have increasingly been hampered by Mr Netanyahu’s hardline cabinet, which ultra-nationalists dominate. Mr Gantz’s more moderate party sometimes acts as a counterweight to the PM’s far-right allies.

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US carries out first aid airdrop in Gaza

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There are deep disagreements between Mr Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden over how to alleviate Palestinian suffering in Gaza and come up with a post-war vision for the enclave.

On Saturday, the US airdropped aid into Gaza after dozens of Palestinians rushing to grab food from trucks were killed last Thursday.

Speaking on Sunday in Selma, Alabama, Ms Harris said: “People in Gaza are starving. The conditions are inhumane and our common humanity compels us to act.

“The Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid. No excuses.”

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A senior US official had said the path to a ceasefire was “straightforward and there’s a deal on the table”, with mediators returning to Egypt hoping to reach an agreement before Ramadan begins in a week.

The unidentified official spoke to the Reuters news agency ahead of the talks in Cairo, billed as the final hurdle to a six-week ceasefire.

Earlier on Sunday, the US said a deal had already been “more or less accepted” by Israel and was waiting for approval by Hamas militants.

But after the Hamas delegation arrived, a Palestinian official said the deal was “not yet there”. Hamas also reportedly wanted a permanent ceasefire to be part of any deal.

The war started after Hamas launched a cross-border attack on southern Israel on 7 October last year, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking more than 250 others hostage.

Israel retaliated with strikes and a military ground assault in Gaza which have so far killed more than 30,000 people, around two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Around 80% of the population of 2.3 million have fled their homes, and UN agencies say hundreds of thousands are on the brink of famine.

More than 100 hostages in Gaza have been released.

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A fresh truce between Israel and Hamas could be highly significant – in more ways than one




A fresh truce between Israel and Hamas could be highly significant - in more ways than one

There is increasing hope that a new hostage deal can be agreed between Israel and Hamas in time for the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a week from now, but time is running out and divisions remain between the sides.

Hamas has sent a delegation to Cairo to continue talks; Israel is yet to dispatch its own team and government sources have told Sky News that, among other things, they are still waiting for Hamas to provide information on the hostages they will release.

There are other points of difference, notably over which Palestinian prisoners Israel will agree to release in exchange and the status of Israeli forces inside Gaza, if a truce goes ahead.

Middle East latest: Houthis vow to sink British ships; path to Gaza truce ‘straightforward’

All parties, including the US, Egypt and Qatar, are making positive noises that a deal can be reached but such is the hatred and mistrust between Hamas and Israel that we can take nothing for granted at this stage.

Separately, but not unconnected, a senior member of Israel’s war cabinet, Benny Gantz, is flying to Washington and London for meetings this coming week.

Read more:
US puts pressure on Hamas to clinch ceasefire ‘deal on table’

FILE - Israeli Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz attends a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. While Israelis quickly rallied behind the military, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party took a hit in opinion polls. Israelis now believe Netanyahu is less fit to govern than Benny Gantz, a rival who agreed to join Netanyahu in an emergency wartime Cabinet. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Benny Gantz could become Israel’s next leader. Pic: Abir Sultan via AP

Although a member of the war cabinet, Mr Gantz leads an opposition party in Israel and has a clear lead in the polling over who should be Israel’s next prime minister.

Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly furious because he wasn’t consulted on the trip.

If a truce is agreed, it might also be the moment when Bibi’s political foes finally move against him – a deal with Hamas could be highly significant on a number of levels and a watershed moment as this war closes in on the five month mark.

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Anger as Pakistan’s parliament confirms Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister




Anger as Pakistan's parliament confirms Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister

Pakistan’s newly-formed parliament has elected Shehbaz Sharif as the country’s prime minister for the second time.

Mr Sharif won 201 votes from Pakistan’s National Assembly, comfortably ahead of Omar Ayub, the candidate backed by jailed former prime minister Imran Khan, who secured 92 votes.

It means the 72-year-old will resume the role he had until August, when parliament was dissolved and a caretaker government was put in charge until last month’s elections.

Mr Sharif was named premier despite his elder brother Nawaz Sharif winning a seat in parliament and being favourite for the top job.

Nawaz did not want to lead a minority coalition government, having enjoyed majorities in his three previous stints as PM, his daughter Maryam said on X.

The brothers’ Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party won fewer seats than Khan’s allies in the February election – but coalition support was enough to get them a majority.

The election saw arrests, violence, an internet blackout and delayed results, leading to claims from Khan’s allies that the vote was rigged.

More on Pakistan

They continued their protests in parliament as Mr Sharif’s premiership was confirmed, calling him a “vote thief” and shouting “shame”.

Imran Khan supporters gather for a protest in Karachi demanding free and fair elections. Pic: Reuters
Imran Khan supporters protest in Karachi a few days after the election. Pic: Reuters

Mr Sharif offered “reconciliation”, adding: “Let us sit together to work for the betterment of Pakistan.” But his words were met by more shouting.

Meanwhile, his government faces a number of challenges: a struggling economy, a surge in militant attacks, tricky relations with Pakistan’s Taliban-run neighbour Afghanistan, and aging infrastructure.

Financially, Pakistan relies heavily on help from outside – wealthy states such as China and Saudi Arabia, as well as the International Monetary Fund.

An IMF bailout negotiated during Mr Sharif’s previous term will expire at the end of this month and he will need to strike another deal while also addressing growing anger over the rising cost of living.

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