UEFA denies planning to hold Euro 2020 in Russia

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UEFA has denied planning to hold Euro 2020 in Russia amid the ongoing restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The European Championship was pushed back by a year in March following the Covid-19 outbreak, which has caused over 1.2 million deaths across the globe to date.

The 24-team tournament was originally due to be held across 12 different countries, with Bilbao, Amsterdam, Baku, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome and St Petersburg all set to host matches.

However, reports of a potential change to that format have surfaced this week, with UEFA said to be drawing up a proposal to stage the competition in Russia, which has emerged as the leading candidate to host after successfully staging the 2018 World Cup finals.

Fears over continent-wide travel restrictions and quarantine rules are thought to be behind the push for reform, with several of the countries scheduled to stage games currently in lockdown as steps to contain the spread of coronavirus continue to be taken.

However, UEFA has insisted that a deviation from the pre-ordained format for Euro 2020 is not being considered, and that plans for the tournament to go ahead include welcoming supporters back into stadiums.

"UEFA's efforts are currently focused on planning a tournament with fans in all 12 venues," a UEFA spokesperson told SID.

The European Championship is scheduled to kick off on June 11, 2021, with the first group-stage match between Italy and Turkey set to take place at Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

The final, meanwhile, is due to be held at Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021, as UEFA celebrates the 60th anniversary of the competition.

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Portugal picked up the trophy for the first time in their history back in 2016, beating France 1-0 after extra time in the showpiece event.

Both sides will be among the favourites to win the tournament alongside the likes of Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium and England, with the UEFA Nations League set to keep all of the countries in question busy until the action begins next year.

Portugal managed to win the inaugural Nations League with a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in 2019, and the latest campaign will continue when the international break comes into effect next week.

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