Attending sporting mega events during COVID-19: mitigation and messaging at UK EURO 2020 matches



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.

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

FundersESRC Economic and Social Research Council
Publication date28/02/2023
Publication date online31/01/2023
Date accepted by journal21/11/2022
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)

People (5)


Professor Niamh Fitzgerald
Professor Niamh Fitzgerald

Professor, Institute for Social Marketing

Professor Kate Hunt
Professor Kate Hunt

Professor, Institute for Social Marketing

Dr Jordan Maclean
Dr Jordan Maclean

Research Assistant, Institute for Social Marketing

Dr Richard Purves
Dr Richard Purves

Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Social Marketing

Dr Claudio Rocha
Dr Claudio Rocha

Lecturer in Sport Management, Sport

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