Boris Johnson has launched his bid to host the 2030 World Cup as he and Prince William lead the cries for victory at England’s crunch semi-final match against Denmark at Wembley tonight and the Prime Minister urges Gareth Southgate’s squad to ‘bring it home’.
As the team made final preparations for the biggest football match on home soil in 25 years, Mr Johnson said: ‘Gareth Southgate and the England squad have done the nation proud in the Euros, and tonight we will all be wishing them the best of luck in getting to the final. Bring it home!’
The Duke of Cambridge will be among 60,000 supporters inside Wembley to watch the Three Lions take on Denmark while more than 30 million football fans in living rooms, pubs and fan zones across the country will unite to cheer every England attack.
They will be hoping that our footballing heroes banish the ghost of Euro 96, when England lost in the semi-final to Germany on penalties – a hurt now abolished after Southgate’s side knocked the Germans out of the Championship.
William cheered England to victory against Germany last week alongside the Duchess of Cambridge and their son George, seven. But the prince, who is the president of the Football Association, will be without his family tonight because Kate is self-isolating at home after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus.
A source told the Times newspaper that Prince Charles and Camilla would be ‘closely following the outcome’. George is not expected at the ground, given the late start time on what is a school night.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister lobbied for a joint British and Irish bid for the 2030 World Cup at a meeting in Downing Street with Aleksander Ceferin, the President of UEFA, European football’s governing body.
Mr Ceferin has said that he wants a single European candidate for the 2030 Cup so that the vote is not split. Britain and Ireland are facing opposition from a joint bid by Spain and Portugal, while the prospect of a strong counter-bid from China appears to be declining.
It is understood that the decision to allow 2,500 VIPs – including UEFA and FIFA officials, Danish royals and politicians – to skip quarantine upon entering Britain so they can watch the semi-finals and final in person has been regarded as helpful in securing support for the British bid.
The deal comes after UEFA threatened to move the games to Hungary unless the British government eased coronavirus travel restrictions for its officials and sponsors.
Currently, most of Europe is on the UK’s ‘amber list’, which would usually force arrivals into a self-imposed quarantine for 10 days. But under the plans, which the Telegraph said were negotiated by Mr Johnson’s chief of staff Dan Rosenfield, a window for quarantine free entry will be opened for VIPs.
The VIPs will need to provide a negative test before leaving for the UK, and will have to undergo testing during their stay. They will also be restricted to staying in selected hotels and to official meetings and matches.
However, most of the VIPs will fly in and out on the same day as the match they are attending. Wembley is set to have 60,000 fans in it tomorrow night – meaning it will be at 75 per cent capacity.
Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark, his wife Princess Mary, and their 15-year-old son Prince Christian have been given exemptions to travel to London for the clash. Furious Denmark fans threatened to ‘come by sea like the Vikings’ after they were banned from travelling under the country’s Covid rules. Only about 6,000 Danes living in England will be at Wembley.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s semi-final, Southgate said his team have a ‘very special opportunity’ to make the country happy. If they win, England will play Italy after they beat Spain on penalties last night.
As Denmark and England prepare for their football bust-up, it emerged:
- Scottish fans complained that the BBC’s coverage of Euro 2020 has been too biased towards England;
- Boris Johnson will extend pub opening hours on Sunday night in case the finals go into extra time;
- Top tier tickets for the clash with Denmark are being re-sold for up to £6,500 each on ‘touting’ websites;
- NHS staff are ‘dreading’ tomorrow’s night shift after drunk fans left them terrified during the last match;
- Mayor Sadiq Khan is offering a golden ticket for two to the final at Wembley Stadium in an online draw for any Londoners who have signed up for their first dose of the Covid jab by Thursday.
- Health Secretary Sajid Javid revealed the requirement for fully-vaccinated people to self-isolate when they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace will not be dropped until August 16.
Boris Johnson holds up an England shirt on the steps of 10 Downing Street in support of England playing Denmark
Harry Kane of England poses for a portrait at St George’s Park in Burton upon Trent
Southgate’s England are due to take on Denmark in their semi-final clash on Wednesday night
England’s Harry Kane, right, warms-up with teammates during a training session at St George’s Park, Burton upon Trent
Fans watch the UEFA Euro 2020 round of 16 match between England and Germany at the Vinegar Yard pub in London
Workers prepare boarding around the statue of Eros in Piccadilly before fans gather ahead of the semi finals of Euro 2020
So can England tame the great Danes? Your armchair guide to the team standing between Three Lions and the Euros final
1) Since their very first friendly match in 1911, England and Denmark have played each other 21 times.
England have won on 12 occasions (scoring a total of 36 goals) and the Danes just four (20 goals), with five draws.
Striker Yussuf Poulsen scored after a minute and 39 seconds against Belgium on June 17.
Since their very first friendly match in 1911, England and Denmark have played each other 21 times
3) The Scandinavian team glory in the nickname ‘Danish Dynamite’, harking back to the Eighties when fans came up with the chant: ‘Vi er rode, vi er hvide, vi er Dansk dynamit!’ (‘We are red, we are white, we are Danish dynamite!’)
Still sung today, the song was a huge hit in the country’s charts. The Danes were particularly explosive in 1992, when they won the Euros in Sweden.
4) Having played their quarter-final match in Baku, Azerbaijan, the Danes have travelled more than 5,000 miles in the past five days.
England have only played outside London once this tournament – with Saturday’s clash in Rome – and have returned to Wembley for the semi.
5) When it comes to age and experience, Denmark have the advantage. The average age of the Danish players is 27, while England – with an average age of just 24 – have one of the youngest squads.
Danish captain Simon Kjaer, 32, a towering centre-back, has 112 caps. In contrast, forward Raheem Sterling, 26, is England’s most experienced player with 66 caps.
England are considered favourites for the semi-final – though pundits have warned that Denmark shouldn’t be underestimated, especially in the light of their emotionally-charged run following Christian Eriksen’s shocking collapse in their opening match.
Despite this, English fans seem to be in a confident mood, with pubs across the country reporting fully booked tables for Sunday’s final.
If England beat the Danes they will face Italy or Spain at Wembley at the showpiece event, with 60,000 in the crowd. Pubs will be the most popular form of viewing, however, and supporters have taken to social media to bemoan the lack of tables available.
One fan wrote: ‘Not being able to book a pub in London for the Euros semis or final is absolutely gutting.’
Another said: ‘I literally can’t find any.’
While a third added: ‘You know what I hate about England getting so far…. Can’t get a f***ing table in a pub playing the game anywhere… the final date has been booked in all pubs over checked since the group stages and no chance of getting anywhere for Wednesday.’
Huddl, Nottingham’s newest sports bar, says all its tables are fully booked out while the city’s Southbank City has just one table left for the final.
In Portsmouth, The Old Customs House is fully booked out for the final while there is an ‘awful lot of booking’ for the final at The Baffins. Several other city bars have also revealed that they have no seats left for the final or semi-final matches.
Steve Haslam, owner of the Bread and Cheese in Thundersley, Essex says his phone has been ringing every 90 seconds with fans keen to book a space in the pub’s fan zone.
If England make the final, Mr Haslam says they will be forced to open a second zone to accommodate the overwhelming demand. Peacock Farm in Bracknell, Berkshire, is fully booked for the final, with fans eager to make use of the pub’s big screen.
In Chiswick, west London, The Lamb is almost fully booked for the final, despite customers required to hand over a £20 deposit. The capital’s Boxpark venue will sell tickets from this Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is reportedly planning to extend pub opening hours on Sunday night in case the Euro 2020 finals go into extra time and penalties.
Pubs will be able to serve thirsty punters until 11.15pm – rather than the usual 10.30pm Sunday closing time – on the night of the Wembley showdown. Late opening will go ahead even if the Three Lions lose their titanic clash against Denmark tomorrow night and don’t make the finals.
No10 hope it will avoid uproar if fans are kicked out before the final whistle.
Due to Covid restrictions, the final at Wembley will have far fewer fans than pre-pandemic, forcing millions of England supporters to pubs and bars to watch the game.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘We are taking forward plans to allow pubs to open until 11.15pm on Sunday. The entire nation has been gripped by the Euros and this will ensure people can come together to enjoy the final in pubs, should they wish to do so.’
At a Downing Street press conference on Monday night, Mr Johnson urged England football fans to support the Three Lions ‘enthusiastically but sensibly’ as he announced an easing of lockdown restrictions from July 19, the so-called ‘Freedom Day’.
It follows reports that England fans will have to wait until September to celebrate with the players if Southgate’s side win the Euros, with the FA opting against attempting a mass event this month.
A victory parade through London next week had already been ruled out due to Covid-19 restrictions and Sportsmail has learned that following last weekend’s quarter-final win over Ukraine, FA executives have decided to postpone any public party until the first international break of the new season.
A victory party at Wembley had been considered, with free tickets to be allocated to fans via a ballot, but those plans have also been put on hold due to capacity limitations.
England football fans watch the team’s Euro 2020 Round of 16 tie with Germany at the Boxpark Shoreditch venue in east London, June 29
Gareth Southgate’s men face Denmark at Wembley at 8pm on Wednesday, and a win will put the team in its first final since 1966 (pictured: June 29, east London)
Fans watching the Euro 2020 game between England and Germany in the Boxpark in Croydon, June 29
A worker prepares boarding around the statue of Eros in Piccadilly before fans gather ahead of the semi finals of Euro 2020
Mass events remain prohibited until July 19 – unless they are part of the Government’s Events Research Programme – by which point all of Southgate’s players will be on holiday.
Given the players have not spent more than a few fleeting moments at the end of matches at Wembley with their families since the start of June, the FA will not ask them to return early for any reason.
Therefore, any big celebration will have to wait for nearly two months.
England are due to play Andorra in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on September 5 in the middle of away trips to Hungary and Poland, and that fixture could be used as the centrepiece of a mass national celebration.
While wary of getting ahead of themselves, the FA are still considering how to mark what would be England’s first tournament win for 55 years in a suitable, if low-key, manner next week.
An invitation to Downing Street next Monday would be inevitable if England do triumph at Wembley on Sunday, while other possible options include inviting a small number of schoolchildren and key workers to watch the players lift the trophy at Wembley in a socially distanced manner.