On 19th May, UEFA announced its ticketing policy for EURO 2020.
The tournament, which will take place across 12 host nations, is set to be the biggest in the history of European football. To this end, UEFA have made a record three million tickets available for sale, with two-and-a-half million of those, or 82% of the total, reserved for fans of the competing teams and the general public.
While Football Supporters Europe (FSE) welcomes the sentiment behind this “fan-first” approach, as well as several of the other measures outlined, we also have reservations regarding the overall efficacy and fairness of the policy.
On the positive side, the decision to adopt two price clusters based on the purchasing power and average income of the host nations should, in principle, and with one exception, be applauded; so too should the revamped ticket resale platform, new waiting list system, provisions to better scrutinise the distribution of tickets, and the low cost of tickets for disabled fans.
The negatives, however, are just as numerous.
To begin with, the most expensive price cluster – Cluster A – includes Russia, a country with a vastly different economy to those of Germany, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and so on. Indeed, on a whole host of economic indicators, Russia performs worse than Hungary and Romania, two of the nations which comprise Cluster B.
According to the coordinator of Fans’ Embassy Russia, Elena Erkina, it is therefore “inexplicable” that Russia was not placed in the latter. The minimum ticket price in Cluster A is 50 EUR, which, Erkina points out, is “three to four times more than the cheapest tickets available to Russians during the 2018 FIFA World Cup and for UEFA Nations League games.” Given average earnings and the current exchange rate, Erkina believes that these prices will “lead to the exclusion of a significant number of fans and put a halt to the growing support for the national team.”
Just as problematic is the low allocation given to national associations and fans for certain games. In some cases, the allocation is as low as 17% of the overall stadium capacity. While this represents a slight improvement on EURO 2016, it still falls short of our expectations. We invite UEFA to reconsider the allocation split for these games and, depending on demand, raise them accordingly.
The lack of a fourth, cheaper ticket category is also a concern. During EURO 2016, the cheapest ticket cost 25 EUR, which, quite naturally, proved to be popular amongst supporters, especially those from low-income backgrounds. After reviewing the proposed pricing categories, the director of the FSE Fans’ Embassy Division, Michael Gabriel, commented: “The budget of fans has not doubled in the past four years, so it is disappointing to learn that UEFA has decided to effectively double prices for those who can only afford to purchase tickets from the bottom category.”
To UEFA’s credit, a 4th category has been added for the semi-finals (75 EUR) and final (85 EUR). But the overall pricing structure for these fixtures (up to 595 EUR for the semi-finals and 945 EUR for the final) has increased since the last tournament and remains far too expensive.
Finally, we regret that UEFA does not provide enough clarity on visa and entry requirements for ticket holders. Given the dispersed nature of the tournament, FSE expects ticket holders to be offered freedom of movement between EURO 2020 host cities. This could involve visa-free entrance or a fast-track visa application process. We would urge all tournament stakeholders to communicate on the matter within a reasonable timeframe in order to allow enough time for travel preparations to be made.