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WHEN IN ROME: England play away in EURO 2020 quarter-final


An “army” of fully vaccinated, older expatriates could cheer on England when they face Ukraine in Rome in their Euro 2020 quarter-final on Saturday.

English people living in Italy are almost certain to be the only fans supporting Gareth Southgate’s team at the Stadio Olimpico due to Covid travel restrictions in the UK and Italy.

Members of the England Supporters Travel Club have already been told by the Football Association that no tickets will be sold to them due to the restrictions.

The FA said it was working with tournament organisers UEFA and the British Embassy “to facilitate as many ticket sales to English residents in Italy as possible”.

One such resident, Mary Handley, who has lived in Italy for more than 40 years, believes the expat community will respond to the call to support the Three Lions, if clarity can be provided on how to buy tickets.

The 68-year-old, who lives just outside Rome but is originally from Halifax in West Yorkshire, told the PA news agency: “I would love to go. I’ve already got my T-shirt and my red cross on my white mask. I’m going to show up there, even if I have to do it on my own.

“I have read estimates that there are 30,000 (expatriates) but that seems low to me. I do think there’s quite an army out there that might show up. If I can do it, I’m ready to do it, absolutely. We just need the authorities to help us out.

“I think the expats will respond to this, especially as the expat community tends to be – how can I put this? – in the older bracket. So we probably all have our Italian vaccinations and we can get into the stadium without jumping through any more hoops.”

Handley said she had been trying to get two tickets all morning without any success.

“I’m desperate for a ticket and I’m constantly hassling everywhere to get one, but there’s a lot of confusion here,” she said.

“Hopefully there will be more clarity soon about what they’re going to do with these tickets.

“I’ve been trying all morning to navigate the systems there and not got anywhere to be quite honest, it’s really heavy-duty.”

The FA was entitled to 16 per cent of the Stadio Olimpico’s agreed 16,000 capacity for the match, but these tickets will now be placed on general sale.

Travellers from the UK must self-isolate for five days on arrival in Italy and then take a rapid antigenic or molecular swab test for Covid-19 and test negative for release, meaning someone would need to have arrived on Monday in order to be cleared for Saturday.

Italy is on the UK Government’s amber list too, meaning anyone travelling to Rome from the UK would need to isolate for at least five days upon their return.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said on Wednesday: “People should not be travelling to amber list countries.

“Obviously we appreciate how fans will want to do everything possible to support the England team but we do need to balance that against the need to protect public health.

“We would urge everyone to comply with the guidelines and rules that we have in place.”

Restrictions are even tighter for fans from Ukraine. They will not be able to travel to the match, with non-essential travel from Ukraine to Italy not currently permitted.

It may be a low key affair in the stands as England face Ukraine in the quarter-final of EURO 2020 in Rome.

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