In this country we have consistently been told that we have the best Covid vaccination programme in the world and Government ministers fall over themselves to appear on TV to ram this message home to us all.

That being the case you may be wondering why some of the matches in Euro 2020 are being played to near capacity crowds and others to very sparse crowds. Believe me having a capacity crowd is a big advantage for the home team as was the case in the Hungary v France at the weekend in the Puskas Arena in Budapest.

Whilst 61,000 watched that match only 22,500 watched England play Scotland in a 90,000 capacity Wembley Stadium and 14,500 watched Germany play Portugal in a 75,000 capacity Allianz Stadium.

The reason for this disparity is that the Hungarian Government allowed a capacity crowd on the back of knowing it has been accelerating its vaccination programme and that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to host European Championship matches in a football mad country. Every fan attending a match in Hungary must provide proof of vaccination before being allowed in. From what I could see on TV most fans were not wearing masks.

In the UK a significant number of the adult population people has now had a double vaccination but unlike in Hungary fans must wear masks to matches.

I have had a double vaccination but my experience in the last few weeks can be summarised as follows: –

  • I went into Cafe Nero at the weekend and bought a coffee to be told they could not accept cash payments due to Covid restrictions and I had to pay by card.
  • For my follow up cardio procedure which I have been told by two cardiac specialists needed to be done by June 2021 it is not possible at this time to confirm a firm date due to Covid restrictions.
  • For my follow up cancer appointment, it now must be a telephone consultation due to Covid restrictions.
  • GP visits are not possible due to Covid restrictions.
  • If I wanted to go to Majorca for a holiday break I can’t due to Covid restrictions, but German holidaymakers are flocking there in their thousands.

The statistics show that cancer and cardiac deaths now far outweigh Covid related deaths and yet all the media report on daily is Covid deaths. It concerns me that those people needing cancer and cardiac scans are being left behind in this new order of priorities and restrictions. Many people will pay the ultimate price, but their predicament won’t be newsworthy.

Sport is an important part of our life and mental and physical well-being and having had restrictions now for some 15 months we all desperately need to return to normal. We need to be back working in our offices. We need social inter-action with our friends. We need to be able to watch our favourite football team play with a normal level of support. We need to be able to go on a holiday. We need to be able to see and talk to our GP and NHS specialists and be examined.

If none of these are achievable soon then please stop telling us we lead the world in fighting Covid and share with us all the vision of a new normal.

Peter Varney, Chairman – Integral Sports Management.

Image – PA Images

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