Purves RI, Maclean J, Rocha C, Philpott M, Fitzgerald N, Piggin J & Hunt K (2023) Attending sporting mega events during COVID-19: mitigation and messaging at UK EURO 2020 matches. Health Promotion International, 38 (1), Art. No.: daac176. https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/daac176
The UEFA EURO 2020 football tournament was one of the largest Sporting Mega Events (SMEs) to take place during the COVID19 pandemic. Mitigating the risk of virus transmission requires a multi-layered approach for any large event, more so in this case
due to staging the tournament across eleven host countries. Yet, little is known about COVID-19 risks and mitigation from attending an event of this scale and nature. We examined the implementation of mitigation and messaging at EURO 2020 matches
hosted at venues in the UK. The tournament was postponed from the summer of 2020 and played in June and July of 2021.
Structured observations were conducted by 11 trained fieldwork-supporters at 10 matches played at Wembley Stadium, London,
or Hampden Park, Glasgow. Fieldwork-supporters observed one-way systems and signage, and hand sanitizing stations inside
the stadia, but reported significant variation in the implementation of staggered timeslots, testing upon entry, and procedures for
exit. Adherence to planned measures by ticket holders and implementation by stewards waned as the tournament progressed
culminating in an absence of enforced measures at the final. The non-compliance with COVID-19 mitigation measures was likely
to have led to a significantly increased risk of transmission. Future events should consider how COVID-19 mitigation measures
could become ‘new norms’ of fan behaviour, learning from what is already known about football fandom. Tournament organizers
of SMEs can use these findings to promote clearer messaging on pandemic-driven changes in fan behaviour and best practices
in mitigating risk at future sporting and cultural events.
Sport; Mitigation; messaging; COVID-19; transmission
Health Promotion International: Volume 38, Issue 1