Football on big screens: Mayors could follow Amsterdam’s lead
The 25 Dutch mayors on the Security Council will meet on Monday to discuss allowing football fans to watch the upcoming Dutch men’s football matches during the European Championships on large screens in public spaces, De Telegraaf reported. Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema floated the idea last week during a city council meeting. She asked the Security Council to reevaluate the idea, which was initially shot down out of fear it could cause a spike of Covid-19 infections.
According to Halsema, municipalities should be able to place multiple screens at several outdoor locations across their cities. This way, the size of groups of fans gathering to watch the game together would be reduced, and people who do gather would be outside in the fresh air.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday that the catering industry is not yet allowed to display sports games on big screens. According to Rutte, this will lead to the formation of unmanageable large groups m, sometimes in indoor spaces, with no social distance between them.
The final rounds of the tournament are scheduled to take place in July. By that time, more restrictions are expected to be loosened in the Netherlands, possibly allowing fans to watch sports outdoors. To ensure a coordinated national approach, the Security Council discuss the issue again at their weekly meeting on Monday evening in Utrecht.
Caretaker Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus previously voiced a negative opinion towards allowing mass gatherings of this kind, at least at hospitality businesses. "I think it is really too early to watch [football] in the pub," he said.
"The experience of previous European and World Championships shows that people clump together in front of the screens. Then it becomes too busy. Then the 1.5-meter measure is violated and then you have another problem", council chair Hubert Bruls, who also is the Nijmegen mayor, said last week. Bruls was also criticized for allowing fans to gather in public to celebrate local football club NEC’s promotion to the top level Eredivisie competition.
The European Championships takes place from June 11 to July 11 throughout 11 cities, with Amsterdam hosting some of the preliminary round games.