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Italian PM calls for EURO 2020 final to be moved out of London over COVID-19 surge

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By Euronews with AFP
Czech players warm up during a team training session at Wembley stadium in London, June 22, 2021 .
Czech players warm up during a team training session at Wembley stadium in London, June 22, 2021 .   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Monday called for the EURO 2020 final to be moved out of London because of the spread of the Delta variant.

Draghi told reporters in Berlin during a joint press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel that he wants "to ensure that the final of the European championship does not take place in a country where contagions are growing rapidly."

Britain recorded more than 10,630 new COVID-19 infections on Monday. New cases have been steadily rising since late May after nearly seven weeks of the daily tally of new infections remaining under 3,000.

The surge is being blamed on the spread of the Delta variant which public health authorities say now accounts for more than 90% of new infections in the UK. The variant, which first originated in India, is believed to be up to 60% more transmissible than the original strain.

The flare-up of infections prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to postpone lifting the remaining restrictions in England — planned for June 21 — by another four weeks.

Johnson suggested last week that he would be open to moving key matches of the EURO 2020 out of the country, saying that prioritises "public health" over the championship.

Sources have confirmed to AFP that UEFA — Europe's governing body for football — is considering moving the semi-finals and final out of Wembley to Budapest, the only capital city that has not imposed any capacity in its stadium for this Euro. The British government is currently planning a 50% capacity for those matches.

Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron had called Friday for vigilance in the organisation of matches in the face of the outbreak of the highly contagious variant Delta.