The European Championships are set to kick off this summer, a year later than originally planned, and there is excitement over the return of top-level international football.
However, while summer tournaments always bring people together, this edition of the Euros has a different feel to it with the competition being held in 12 different cities across Europe.
The idea has received some criticism, with many calling out the costs and environmental impact of the tournament.
And Dom Smith, an England fan and founder of the blog England Football, covering the Three Lions, believes the idea shouldn’t have been implemented this year.
“The idea for multiple stadia in multiple countries was to mark 70 years since the first European Championships. It’s ironic that it fell just when international travel became totally dangerous.
“I think, given the circumstances, it should have been postponed as an idea until maybe the 90th anniversary.
He also adds that plans would have been difficult to amend once cities were given the rights to host a certain number of games:
“But money talks, and so does diplomacy,” he added.
“Imagine telling Azerbaijan that their first chance of hosting a major tournament would be put on hold indefinitely. It should have been cancelled as an idea and simply placed in one single country.”
Smith believes the costs for fans will be substantial and UEFA’s vision of a continental celebration of football won’t go ahead as planned, especially considering the pandemic’s impact on sport and fans’ income.
“I don’t think many will travel from border to border. Those who do will find beer, food and accommodation prices higher than they’ve ever seen.
“I expected negative tests to be required before stadium entry, plus the additional temperature checks that they’ve been using for over half a year now.”
Considering Covid-19, the increased cases at the start of 2021 and the vaccination programme, there will be a reduced number of fans across the stadiums.
There have also been rumours that UEFA will reduce the number of hosting venues from 12 to eight, with cities like Munich, Bilbao and Dublin all in doubt.
Smith believes the tournament won’t be what UEFA had in mind, but it will go on nonetheless, albeit without the same quality.
“I’d say the tournament was a slightly heartless idea but ultimately I do understand it. It looks silly now, but originally it was just supposed to be a festival or European football 70 years since the first Euros.
“Given the circumstances, it’ll now end up being an artificial tournament with very good but very tired teams. A far cry from the aim, but the best of an awful situation.”
With under two months to go before kick-off, the Euros this year will be unlike any other, and while there is disregard for the way the competition is going ahead, there will also be many eager to see the return of a summer of supporting their national sides.