Fans have been urged not to travel to Italy to watch England’s Euro 2020 quarter final clash with Ukraine as coronavirus restrictions mean those who were lucky in the ballot cannot use their tickets.
Downing Street said that people should not be travelling to amber list countries such as Italy and urged fans to follow the rules.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman on Wednesday said: “Obviously we appreciate how fans will want to do everything possible to support the England team but we do need to balance that against the need to protect public health.
“We would urge everyone to comply with the guidelines and rules that we have in place.”
England’s landmark 2-0 defeat of Germany set up the clash in Rome but rules in Italy for arrivals from the UK mean fans would face five days of quarantine, which would see them miss the match on Saturday.
The Three Lions face taking to the pitch without the vocal backing of their die-hard supporters, who have only recently been allowed to return to Wembley, as fans who bought tickets years ago cannot attend and the Football Association said it would not take up its ticket allocation.
The FA was entitled to an allocation of 2,560, equating to 16% of the agreed capacity of 16,000 at the Stadio Olimpico, but will not take this up, meaning those tickets will go on general sale.
It added it was working with Uefa and the British Embassy in Italy to “facilitate” ticket sales to English residents in Italy, which is also on the UK’s amber list requiring self-isolation for 10 days upon return.
In a letter to the England Supporters Travel Club, The FA said: “Please be aware that, unfortunately, the FA will not be selling any tickets via the England Supporters Travel Club for this fixture given the travel restrictions in place across both countries, and as such are working with Uefa and the British Embassy in Italy to facilitate as many ticket sales to English residents in Italy as possible.”
In a statement on its website on Wednesday afternoon, the FA said fans who were not subject to restrictions could try to buy a match ticket through Uefa’s ticket portal and that tickets would stay on sale until they were sold out.
Mary Handley, who is originally from Halifax but has lived in Italy for around 40 years, told the PA news agency she was “desperate” for a ticket.
She added: “I’m constantly hassling everywhere to get one, but there’s a lot of confusion here.
“I’ve been trying all morning to navigate the systems there and not got anywhere to be quite honest, it’s really heavy-duty.”
The 68-year-old said she did not know how many expats there were but there was potentially “quite an army” who could show up to cheer on England.
Ms Handley added: “There’s a big network of English residents in Italy and you can travel (within Italy) pretty easily.
“I think the expats will respond to this, especially as the expat community tends to be, how can I put this, in the older bracket, so we probably all have our Italian vaccinations and we can get into the stadium without jumping through any more hoops.
“I personally don’t know the figure, I’ve seen 30,000 but that seems pretty low to me.
“But I do think there’s quite an army out there that might show up.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said that the UK Government’s travel advice stated that fans should not travel to amber countries such as Italy.
It also stressed that the British Embassy in Rome was not selling or distributing tickets to the match.
The embassy posted a link to the Uefa site for tickets on its Twitter and Facebook pages.
On Wednesday, Boris Johnson opened Prime Minister’s Questions by congratulating the England team on their Euro 2020 victory against Germany.
The Prime Minister told MPs: “I know members from across this House will want to congratulate Gareth Southgate and his team on their 2-0 win against Germany at Wembley last night, the first time a men’s team have beaten Germany in 55 years in a knockout game.
“We wish them all the best for their match against the Ukraine on Saturday and we will all be hoping against hope that this time, finally, football is coming home.”
When asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme if tickets should be made available to English expats in the rest of the EU other than Italy who are able to travel to Rome, Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “I am sure those who have those powers will be listening and hear it.
“That is something I am sure they will look at and make sure that is fed through.
“Certainly those of us who are in the UK who aren’t able to travel will be cheering so loudly our team will hear us in Rome.”
Under Italian guidance, travellers from the UK must self-isolate for five days on arrival and then take a rapid antigenic or molecular swab test for Covid-19 and test negative for release, meaning someone would need to have arrived on Monday in order to be cleared for Saturday.
The FA has warned that fans travelling from the UK would not arrive in time and that those who did not adhere to the rules could face a fine of up to 3,000 euros (£2,576) and even criminal charges.
The association said: “Anyone found violating restrictive measures will be faced with a fine ranging from 400 (£343) to 3,000 euros and possible criminal charges.”
One England fan with tickets for Saturday’s Euro 2020 quarter-final against Ukraine said he was frustrated that he cannot attend due to Covid travel restrictions.
Warrick Howard, from Leicestershire, purchased tickets through the ballot system in 2019 for 140 euros each, but his plans for the match have been curtailed by Italy’s five-day quarantine requirement for UK arrivals.
“Given the huge push to have everyone vaccinated there were ways of making this work for fans attending this tournament, but Uefa and the EU have made no effort to do so,” the 37-year-old told the PA news agency.
“I guess they were too busy organising thousands of ‘no quarantine required’ exemptions for their couple of thousand VIPs.
“I thought about flying out to Italy on Sunday June 27 and doing my five-day quarantine in an AirBnB apartment so I’d be free for the game if England did make it through… but that would have required a week off work.”
Uefa said that fans had been offered four chances to return their tickets over the last year but there will be no further refunds.
Restrictions are even tighter for fans from Ukraine. They will not be able to travel to the match, with non-essential travel from Ukraine to Italy not currently permitted.
Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling and Tottenham striker Harry Kane struck twice within 11 minutes to secure a memorable 2-0 victory over Germany in the last-16 tie at Wembley on Tuesday.
The victory was England’s first over Germany in a knockout match at a men’s finals tournament since the 1966 World Cup final.