How will fans travel to European final?

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May 15, 2021
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    Estadio do DragaoThe Champions League final has been moved to Porto to accommodate fans

    Portugal has announced British tourists can enter the country from Monday, but it is not yet clear what that means for the thousands of Manchester City and Chelsea fans hoping to watch their team in the Champions League final.

    BBC Sport has taken a look at where things stand with two weeks to go.

    Where is the game being played?

    European club football's showpiece event was originally scheduled to take place in Istanbul. However, due to coronavirus travel restrictions it has been moved to Portugal.

    Porto's Estadio do Dragao will now host the final on 29 May at 20:00 BST.

    A reduced capacity crowd will be allowed into the 50,000-seater stadium, with European football's governing body Uefa confirming 6,000 fans from each club will be permitted to attend. Why was it moved?

    Two days after Chelsea overcame Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge to set up an all-Premier League affair in the Champions League final, Turkey was added to the United Kingdom's red list of countries under a new traffic light system of travel restrictions.

    That means any travellers – in this case players, coaches, club staff and supporters of the two clubs – would have to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days on their return.

    Discussions were held over moving the game to Wembley, but after no agreement could be reached on quarantine exemptions for sponsors, VIPs and broadcasters, Uefa announced on Thursday the game would be played in Portugal.

    Portugal is on England's green list, which will allow players and fans to attend without having to quarantine on their return home.

    Can fans attend and how?

    Ensuring the presence of fans was key in Uefa's decision to move the final.

    When announcing the venue switch on Thursday, Uefa said "everything needed to be done to ensure the supporters of the two finalist teams could attend".

    "Portuguese authorities and the FPF [Portuguese FA] stepped in and worked quickly and seamlessly with Uefa to offer a fitting venue for the final and, as Portugal is a green list destination for England, fans and players attending the final will not have to quarantine on their return home," Uefa said.

    Both Chelsea and Manchester City say they are in discussions with Uefa and other stakeholders over ticketing and travel arrangements.

    What has Portugal said?

    Within hours of the switch, the Portuguese government outlined a number of rules for visiting fans, including that supporters would have to fly in and out of the country on the day of the match and they would need to remain in a 'bubble' while visiting.

    Portugal's cabinet affairs minister Mariana Vieira da Silva said restrictions would be put in place to ensure Covid-19 rates remain low in the country, where a state of calamity has been extended to 30 May.

    "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," she said.

    Chelsea Supporters' Trust calledexternal-link the situation a "farce", while Manchester City said on their website that the club would be offering "an official day trip travel package".

    However, on Friday, the Portuguese foreign ministry announced tourists can enter Portugal from Monday, 17 May, though visitors will need to show a negative test before departure.

    While Uefa has yet to comment after that update, City said it was speaking with the governing body to get "clarity."

    Will this all be resolved?

    Analysis from BBC Sport's Simon Stone

    READ:  Gillett to become first overseas PL ref

    Uefa certainly hopes so. Their belief was that fans would be able to move around more or less freely, which is why they felt emboldened to include in Thursday's statement confirming the switch that "after a year of being locked out of stadiums, Uefa thought that everything needed to be done to ensure the supporters of the two finalists could attend".

    Evidently, if supporters were the absolute priority, the game would have been moved to Wembley.

    Uefa has other demands though, which is why a final without its sponsors, broadcasters and dignitaries was equally unpalatable and why Portugal was chosen as a halfway house.

    A day trip with restricted movement is not exactly selling the fan experience too much and Uefa is hoping between now and the final, the stance is eased.

    There are no guarantees but the feeling is it will be. Uefa will certainly hope so because it is too late to change plans for a second time.

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