Rome Alone: Italy-based England fans rush to get quarter-final tickets

Rome Alone: Italy-based England fans rush to get quarter-final tickets
Italian authorities have warned fans not to travel to Rome from England

Peter White didn’t even know England could play in Rome during the Euros when he boarded a plane to the Italian capital to visit his partner there earlier this month.

But on Saturday – thanks to coronavirus restrictions – he could be one of the few England fans inside the Stadio Olimpico to watch the country’s biggest match since the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.

“I have a really loud voice,” he told The Independent. “So if I am the only England fan there, I promise I will represent the county well!”

Mr White, a manufacturing consultant in the textile industry and originally from Berkhamsted, had not considered watching an England game live before because there is always too much competition for tickets. This weekend that will not be an issue.

“I thought it would be impossible to get a ticket because usually, they sell out so fast to people who are signed up for them,” he said.

But the Football Association said it would not be selling tickets via the normal route, the England Supporters Travel Club (ESTC), due to Covid restrictions in place in Italy and the UK.

Last week, Italian authorities introduced a five-day quarantine for everyone arriving in the country from the UK amid concern about the spread of the Delta variant. This means that anyone willing to travel to the country from England would not be able to attend the match.

Peter White in Rome

Anyone caught trying to end their five-day quarantine period without proof of a negative test risks a €450 fine (£386).

The Italian government said on Wednesday there would be no exceptions.

“I am clear and unequivocal – the English fans will not be able to come to Italy to watch the match at the Olimpico against Ukraine on July 3rd,” Andrea Costa, an Italian health minister, told Radio Kiss Kiss Napoli.

“There are five days of quarantine, the rule must be respected. We cannot take risks. If an English fan leaves today, he won’t see the game. Same for those who left yesterday.”

Italy is also on the UK’s amber list, which means that any fans able to somehow overcome all obstacles to find themselves out of quarantine and in Rome by Saturday will still have to self-isolate for 10 days upon return. The UK government website says people should not be travelling to amber list countries.

The FA was entitled to 2,560 tickets, or 16 per cent of the agreed restricted capacity of 16,000 at the Stadio Olimpico, but will not take this up.

Instead, the tickets will go on general sale, and the FA said it was working with UEFA and the British Embassy in Italy to “facilitate” ticket sales to English residents in Italy.

But even those fans in Rome were encountering problems and said they were struggling to find tickets on Wednesday. Mr White, who is not a resident in Italy, said he was willing to do “whatever I can” to secure one but had not been successful so far.

“I have tried on the Stadio Olimpico stadium website, the UEFA website, the British embassy in Rome, and the FA, but I can’t find any info,” he said.

English residents in Rome said they had experienced the same problem.

James Witcomb in Austria

Some expats living in EU countries close to Italy also made plans to travel to the match.

James Witcomb, 26, who is originally from Tamworth but has been working in Linz, Austria, for close to two years, said it was “easy” to secure two tickets via the ticketing website Viagogo right after England beat Germany to advance to the quarter-finals on Tuesday night.

“I plan to fly early Saturday morning Vienna to Rome, will stay over two nights as planned,” he told The Independent.

Mr Witcomb has already received two vaccine doses and because Austria adheres to the EU’s green pass scheme, which allows EU citizens with few restrictions if they’ve been vaccinated or have tested negative, he only needs to get tested two days before he crosses the Italian border and won’t face any quarantine periods.

“I wonder how many English [fans] will be there,” he said. “I guess not many.”

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