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FA insists health is priority in plea to Government for Iceland match at Wembley

England v Belgium – UEFA Nations League – Group 2 – League A – Wembley Stadium
(Image credit: Michael Regan)

The Football Association has asked the Government to allow England’s Nations League match against Iceland next Wednesday to be played at Wembley in order to protect their players and save costs.

The game looked set to be held in another country, most likely Germany, as the Icelandic team are not currently allowed into England due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

They play in Copenhagen on Sunday against Denmark – a country subject to enhanced travel restrictions due to a new strain of Covid-19.

But the governing body has issued a plea for Iceland to be given a travel exemption and said it will ensure their opponents will be kept in a bio-secure bubble and receive extra testing.

An FA statement read: “We have asked Government to consider allowing us to play our final UEFA Nations League match at Wembley Stadium, by giving travel exemption to the Icelandic team subject to strict medical protocols.

“The Icelandic team will have played Denmark in Copenhagen and therefore would be subject to a travel ban.

“While in Denmark they will have been under strict UEFA protocols in a sporting bubble and will be PCR tested before travelling to England. The PCR test picks up the Cluster 5 variant.

“We have agreed with the Icelandic team that they arrive on private charter to a private terminal and will only have access to their hotel and the stadium.

“We will also put in place additional testing over and above the multiple tests normally required for each participant and staff at the match.”

The FA wants the clash at Wembley

The FA wants the clash at Wembley (Toby Melville/PA)

The match against Iceland could decide whether England qualify for the knockout stages of the Nations League, so they would prefer the home advantage of playing at the national stadium.

However, the FA insists while that would be beneficial, it is not the primary concern, citing the safety of its players as well as additional costs in an already challenging financial situation.

“We are not asking for this support to help us have home advantage in this competitive international match, although of course that would be helpful,” the statement continued.

“We are not asking for this support to avoid a huge cost from playing an England home match in Germany, although we can ill afford the financial penalty at this time.

“The priority must be health, which is why we are asking for this support. We believe it’s in the better interests of the England team and support staff to play at Wembley Stadium rather than have international travel at this time – and then play the match under the same UEFA protocols against the same opposition, but in a different country.”