Football fans have condemned a move by Uefa that results in Euro 2020 ticket holders not being able to get a refund if matches are switched to new venues due to the pandemic.
Fans fear that they will receive worthless tickets for the tournament after Uefa announced that it will revise the ticketing conditions to reflect the changes caused by the coronavirus. It said its policy was changing to include “pandemic” in its definition of “force majeure”.
This gives organizers the right to reschedule matches to other cities or countries without reimbursing fans, although Uefa does offer reimbursements when matches are played behind closed doors or with reduced capacity. Ticket holders could potentially lose hundreds of pounds when switching games.
Support groups condemned the move and called on Uefa to reverse its decision immediately. Scottish Football Supporters Association’s Paul Godwin said it was “outrageous” fearing Scottish fans would lose if Glasgow games were moved to London and local restrictions mean fans will not be able to travel south of the border .
Consumer advocates expressed doubts whether Uefa could legally refuse refunds if the venues were changed. The tournament organizers have given fans until January 26th to request a full refund. An announcement as to which cities can host games will be made in March at the earliest.
The tournament, which is scheduled to start on June 11th, will take place across Europe with games in 12 cities in 12 countries. If fans keep their tickets, there is a chance that games will be rescheduled to locations as far away as St. Petersburg, Russia and Baku in Azerbaijan with no refund possible.
Mr Godwin said: “This is really unacceptable for UEFA. Football fans are very disappointed with this decision.”
More than 1.5 million tickets were sold for the Europe-wide tournament. Prices for the final at Wembley ranged from € 50 (£ 43) to € 945 (£ 812). Games also take place at Hampden Park in Glasgow and 10 other cities across Europe.
However, fans would also be excluded from refunds if a game was moved from a country where British citizens were free to travel to another country where arrivals had to be quarantined.
Ted Powell of the Irwin Mitchell law firm said Uefa’s changes are open to legal challenge. “It could be argued that changes to the stadium and / or country where a game is taking place represent a change in the description of the product,” he said. “As a result, Uefa’s terms may not be enforceable if they effectively deny consumers the right to refunds for products that are not as originally described.”
Matthew Gough of Eversheds Sutherland, another law firm, said that under European law, contracts should not be materially unbalanced to the detriment of a consumer. “The fact that this affects a consumer’s national soccer team makes it more emotional than usual,” he added.
A Uefa spokesman said ticket holders would have the option to return tickets for a full refund before January 26th. If the venues were billed, Uefa would “take into account” the travel distance between the locations. The board of directors said it was working on several scenarios for this summer’s games, such as: B. full or half full stadiums, venues between 20 and 30 percent or games that take place behind closed doors.