After 51 games played by 24 teams across 11 host cities in as many countries, UEFA EURO 2020 finally came to a close earlier this month—a year later than expected.
Fans’ Embassies volunteers were on hand to provide advice, support, and information to travelling fans throughout the tournament—either on the ground or online. 20 out of the 24 active Fans’ Embassies were able to operate a service of some kind, including new ones from the Czech Republic, Finland, Portugal, and Spain.
The transnational nature of the tournament together with the coronavirus pandemic posed significant organisational challenges, largely related to travel and ever-changing public health restrictions. But close cooperation between Fans’ Embassies and tournament organisers ensured that many of these difficulties were overcome.
What is more, FSE successfully lobbied on behalf of fans on a number of key issues. Successes included:
- A positive change in the policing of banners in Rome.
- Safeguarding the right of fans to display rainbow flags in all stadia after initial problems in Baku, Budapest, and London.
- Improvements to hosting conditions in several host cities.
- Securing the lowest priced tickets for Italian fans in the bubble trip to the final, down from 295 EUR to 95 EUR.
- Responding to multiple enquiries regarding entry requirements, ticketing, and proof of COVID status via the Fans’ Embassies 24/7 helpline.
- Ensuring a constant line of communication between fans, local organising committees (LOC), and public authorities.
Reflecting on the past month, FSE Fans’ Embassies coordinator Matt Willis commented:
“From a personal point of view, it has been tough to run the project from the UK without being able to attend in-person meetings with many of the LOCs. Even so, the level of cooperation has been fantastic. We managed to have Fans’ Embassies running in every host city and built strong, effective, and mutually beneficial relationships with local organisers, various public authorities, and UEFA.”
Looking to the future, Matt continued:
“The past year or so has proven beyond doubt the importance and efficacy of structured dialogue between fans’ groups, public authorities, and tournament organisers.”
FSE Executive Director Ronan Evain echoed these sentiments:
“You cannot organise a major sporting event without directly engaging impacted groups. Tournament organisers can have the best staff on the planet, but they will never replicate the insight, expertise, and legitimacy of Fans’ Embassies when it comes to the needs and expectations of travelling fans. UEFA EURO 2020 showed that fans’ representatives have a crucial role to play in the creation of a safe and inclusive environment that respects different fan cultures.”
FSE would like to thank everybody with whom we worked, especially all the volunteers who gave up their time to help us and their fellow fans.
We will publish a more comprehensive report on UEFA EURO 2020 in the autumn of 2021.