England football fans are hoping the team “can give us something to cheer about” when they take on Ukraine at Euro 2020 in Rome.
The team take on Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night, but will be doing so largely without support in the stands as Italy remains on the UK’s amber list and fans have been urged not to travel.
Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Association, said fans are disappointed about not being able to travel, but added: “We’ve got used to a bit of disappointment.” He told Times Radio: “We haven’t been watching football live for a long time – club games and internationals [have] been missed, so to some extent, people got used to it.”
Clarke joked that fans were just hoping “England can give us something to cheer about”. When asked if he was confident of victory, he replied: “I think it would be silly to be at all complacent, as one or two England fans now are – a bit too overconfident – after the German game. But I am sure that the manager will ensure that the players aren’t.”
The game sees the men’s team attempt to qualify for their first European Championship semi-final for 25 years. England’s Lionesses reached the Euros semi-final in 2017 but lost 3-0 to the Netherlands. Gareth Southgate’s squad, meanwhile, reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2018. If the team manage a victory in Rome, they will face either the Czech Republic or Denmark at Wembley on Wednesday.
The match, which kicks off at 8pm BST, will largely have Ukraine supporters in the stands. Regulations in Italy mean supporters would have needed to have spent five days in quarantine and have had a negative post-isolation Covid test to be allowed into the stadium. That means those backing the squad on Saturday night in their first away game of the tournament will either be those who call Italy their home, or who have travelled from another European Union country to attend the match.
Some fans have managed to get tickets for the game as they live outside the UK. Luke Curner, originally from Folkestone, Kent, was able to avoid isolation as he travelled from Helmstedt, Germany, where he lives with his wife and children. The 36-year-old bought tickets for the match in 2019 as it falls on his birthday weekend and said: “I feel very privileged to be here, I’m usually on the wrong end of these kind of situations.”
Jack Francis, 20, from Southampton, travelled to Rome from France and said he feels lucky to be able to go. “It feels very surreal, and hopefully it will be a memorable game which will be talked about for years to come if we go all the way,” he added.