‘It’s a disgrace’: English fans in Italy scramble for tickets for Rome showdown

English people living in Italy were left feeling frustrated, confused and disappointed as they scrambled to buy tickets for England’s Euro 2020 quarter-final match against Ukraine in Rome on Saturday, as Italian officials warned fans travelling from the UK to respect quarantine rules.

Caught off-guard by England’s historic win over Germany on Tuesday night, initially many English fans in Italy desperately searched for tickets online, only to be faced with what one described as a “slow and cumbersome” Uefa website or other sites selling tickets at extortionate prices.

They were then buoyed by a statement from the Football Association saying it would give English residents priority for tickets, with purchases made via the British embassy in Rome, as Covid restrictions prevented fans travelling to Italy from the UK.

The FA told members of the Engeland Supporters Travel Club (ESTC), the official arm of England’s away support, that it would not be selling tickets for the fixture via the ESTC, given the travel restrictions in both Italy and the UK, and was instead working with Uefa and the British embassy in Italy “to facilitate as many ticket sales to English residents in Italy as possible”.

The FA said it would publish a full update on its website on 30 Junie. Egter, as of Wednesday afternoon, the embassy said it was “not selling or distributing tickets for the match on Saturday in Rome and it is incorrect to report that it is.”

“It’s a disgrace … all this mixed messaging,” said Neil Marsland, who lives in Rome. “There is no clear guidance – are there any tickets available and, if so, how do we get them? Maybe it will get resolved as one would have thought there would be a number of tickets available for English residents in Italië.”

His friend Nick Norvell said: “We’ve been trying to find tickets via Uefa but the site is super-slow and cumbersome … and probably everyone else is searching too.”

Italy reimposed a five-day quarantine rule on travellers arriving in the country from the UK in mid-June amid fears over the spreading Delta variant. That means fans, who also need to test negative for coronavirus 48 hours prior to travelling, would have needed to have arrived in Italy by Monday in order to watch the game at Rome’s Olympic stadium on Saturday. Anyone caught breaking the quarantine could be fined €450.

The stadium can host a maximum of 16,000 spectators, met 68% of the tickets sold before it was known who the quarter-final contenders would be, according to the local newspaper, Roma Today. The remaining tickets were split between the two competing countries’ respective football associations, with the FA able to distribute roughly 2,500.

“We were jumping up and down with joy when England beat Germany,” said Jessica Hyde, who lives in Lombardy. “I told my son, Joshua, that there was a possibility he could go to Saturday’s match and he got really excited.”

Rachael Martin, who also lives in Lombardy, said there was similar excitement in her household when the family heard there might be tickets available from the embassy. “It’s disappointing as it would have been a nice touch, especially as football always brings everyone together,” she added.

Some English fans are said to have bought tickets for the match and travelled to Italy before knowing the national side would reach the quarter-final. Alessio D’Amato, health councillor for Lazio, the region surrounding Rome, gesê: “It must be remembered that, in order to fight against the Delta variant, there is a five-day quarantine rule in place for everyone coming from Great Britain, and this must be respected.”

Rachel Greenwood, who lives in Umbria, gesê: “I’m pretty gobsmacked that England beat Germany, and would really love to see the match in Rome.”

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