BRUSSELS - The final of the Euro 2020 football tournament should not be played in London due to safety concerns over the faster spread of the coronavirus in Britain, the European Union's top lawmaker on health issues said on Tuesday.
On Monday, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called for the match to be moved from England due to rising COVID-19 cases there, but European soccer's governing body UEFA said it had no plans to replace Wembley as the host stadium for the semi-finals and final.
However, the pressure on UEFA is continuing.
"Our health is priority. The spread of the Delta variant makes it impossible for 40,000 spectators to view the final match in London's stadium," Peter Liese said in a statement on Tuesday.
Britain is seeing a spike in cases due to the spread of the more contagious Delta variant, which was first identified in India.
The lawmaker, a physician by profession who speaks on health matters on behalf of the European People's Party (EPP), the largest grouping in the European Parliament, sent a letter on Tuesday to UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, urging him to choose another location for the final, based only on public health criteria.
"The alternative venues should not be chosen by UEFA according to where the most spectators are allowed, but according to which stadium or city has the best hygiene concept and where health protection is best guaranteed," said Liese, who is a member of the same party as German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Liese also urged Ceferin not to consider Budapest as an alternative location, because it is the only European capital hosting the tournament that has allowed full capacity at its stadium.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by Alison Williams) ((Francesco.Guarascio@thomsonreuters.com; +32 2 287 68 17;))