The English Football Association has begged the UK government to allow its final UEFA Nations League group match against Iceland at Wembley next Wednesday as scheduled.
Talks continue Thursday between the FA and senior government officials with the aim of clarifying whether existing coronavirus regulations denying Icelandic players and staff entry to the UK will remain in place.
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The government is denying entry to all non-UK residents who have been or have passed through Denmark in the past 14 days after a new COVID-19 strain was found on Danish mink farms. Iceland will face Denmark in Copenhagen on Sunday.
The Ministry of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport had confirmed that the policy would not be reviewed until Saturday, but the government should give the FA an indication before then on whether elite sport will be exempted.
Germany has been raised as a possible neutral destination if the rules are not relaxed so England can avoid losing the game.
“We have asked the government to consider allowing us to play our last UEFA Nations League game at Wembley Stadium, granting a travel exemption for the Icelandic team subject to strict medical protocols,” said a FA spokesperson. “The Icelandic team will have played against Denmark in Copenhagen and would therefore be subject to a travel ban.
“While in Denmark, they will have been subjected to strict UEFA protocols in a sports bubble and will be PCR tested before traveling to England. The PCR test uses the Cluster 5 variant.
“We have agreed with the Icelandic team that they arrive by private charter at a private terminal and will only have access to their hotel and the stadium. We will also be implementing additional tests in addition to the multiple tests normally required for each participant and staff at the match.
"We are not asking for that support to help us have the home advantage in this competitive international game, although of course that would be helpful." We are not asking for this support to avoid a huge cost of playing an England home game in Germany, although we can hardly afford the financial penalty at this time.
“The priority must be health, which is why we are asking for this support. We believe it is in the best interests of the England team and the support staff to play at Wembley Stadium rather than travel abroad at the moment – and then play the match under the same protocols UEFA against the same opposition, but in a different country.
“We understand the perspective of an exception at a time when industries such as carriers are not allowed to come to Denmark. However, international footballers are some of the most tested people on the planet and we will even be doing extra testing to go beyond the highest standards. .
“We call on the government to follow the advice of its public health experts on whether the match can be safely staged in the UK and we believe an exception is justified and in the best interests of the team. England. We hope the government can support us. organize the game in the safest way possible at this difficult time for everyone. “
UEFA confirmed to ESPN that if England were unable to organize the match or move to Germany on time, they would be considered to have failed in their match obligations and would therefore be through default to a 3-0 defeat.
There is no possibility to rearrange the game at a later date due to the existing schedule. All Nations League matches must be completed in this window.
An automatic loss would almost certainly determine whether England advance to the round of 16 or not, given they are third in Group A22 and face Belgium in Brussels on Sunday.
Only the group winners qualify for the semi-finals. The teams on points level are then split on goal difference and so a 3-0 loss would mean England would need a huge win in Belgium to have any chance of progress.