Fans frustrated at uncertainty over spectators attending Champions League final

There is confusion over arrangements for fans attending the Champions League final
There is confusion over arrangements for fans attending the Champions League final (PA Wire)
12:55pm, Fri 14 May 2021
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Football fans have hit out at the confusion over whether they will be able to attend the Champions League final.

In announcing the May 29 showpiece between Manchester City and Chelsea had been moved from Istanbul to Porto on Thursday, UEFA confirmed that up to 6,000 supporters from each club would be allowed entry.

Since then the situation has been thrown into uncertainty by confirmation that Portugal is to extend its lockdown restrictions until May 30. If that includes travel, that could prohibit any British tourists from entering the country, regardless of Portugal being added to the UK’s ‘green list’ from May 17.

The Estadio do Dragao in Porto is now hosting the final (PA Archive)

Adding to the confusion are comments from a Portuguese government minister suggesting that all supporters attending the final would have to fly in and out of Porto within 24 hours. They would also be transported to and from the game in ‘bubble’ situations.

This comes after a number of supporters have already booked independent travel and accommodation.

Kevin Parker, general secretary of the Manchester City Official Supporters Club, said: “There is no clarity, it is very frustrating.

“UEFA came out with this statement saying how wonderful they were, that the game was going to Porto, and each club were going to get 6,000 tickets, and tickets would soon be on sale. And on that basis everybody started booking their flights and accommodation.

UEFA seemed to be suggesting they were delighted they were able to sort things for the supporters but it would seem they haven't.

“Then we saw the words spoken by the Portuguese minister yesterday, which came as a shock. Since then UEFA has been very quiet. It’s a nightmare, to be honest.

“Everything is up in the air. Can we go Friday and come back Sunday or do we have to go Saturday?

“UEFA seemed to be suggesting they were delighted they were able to sort things for the supporters but it would seem they haven’t.

“We’re as much in the dark as we were before the UEFA statement. They’ve also been very quiet on it which doesn’t help at all.”

A tweet from the Chelsea Supporters Trust read: “We share the same frustrations of #CFC supporters. The situation regarding the #UCLfinal is a farce. We will seek clarity & will relay any info we receive.”

UEFA has not commented on the latest situation after being contacted by the PA news agency. It is understood the European governing body took its decision to move the game based on assurances fans would be allowed in.

It was certainly one of the key points in its statement confirming the move to Porto’s Estadio do Dragao, which was contentiously chosen ahead of Wembley.

“To deprive supporters of the chance to see the match in person was not an option,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said fans were at the forefront of thinking when the game was moved (PA Wire)

Portugal’s existing rules were due to expire on Sunday but a statement on its government’s website on Thursday said the “state of calamity” would now run until May 30.

Under this regulation, entry to Portugal is only allowed for returning residents, according to information on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website.

However, Portuguese cabinet office minister Mariana Vieira da Silva said in a briefing on Thursday she had “no information to give yet” when asked if restrictions would apply to incoming British tourists.

Regarding the Champions League final she said fans “will come and return on the same day, with a test done, in a bubble situation, on charter flights”.

In quotes on the BBC website, she added: “There will be two fan zones and from there they will be moved to the stadium and from the stadium to the airport, being in Portugal less than 24 hours.”

Manchester City and Chelsea met at Wembley in the FA Cup last month (PA Wire)

It is anticipated formal announcements will be made by the Portuguese government over the weekend, after which UEFA may be in a better position to issue clarifications.

UEFA decided to move the final from Istanbul after Turkey was placed on the UK government’s ‘red list’ for international travel last week.

Lengthy discussions were held over the possibility of switching to Wembley but the UK government was unable to agree to UEFA’s request for 2,000 quarantine exemptions for sponsors, VIPs and broadcasters. Portugal then emerged as the alternative.

Parker said: “UEFA seem to have switched it to Porto so they can get 2,000 VIPs in but, as it stands now, the suggestion is they’re going to be the only people in the stadium. It’s ridiculous.”

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