Soccer - Belgium change Russia travel plans over COVID fears

·1-min read

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium have changed their travel plans for the remainder of the European Championship group phase due to concerns about the COVID-19 situation in Russia, the country’s football association said on Monday.

The Belgians were due to travel from Copenhagen after Thursday’s second match in Group B against Denmark to St Petersburg and spent three days in the Russian city preparing for their last group game against Finland next Monday.

However, they have decided to go back home from Copenhagen to their base at Tubize, some 25km south of Brussels, and only travel to St Petersburg on the eve of the game against the Finns.

“During our recent stay in St Petersburg we experienced that being a few days abroad in a hotel in a big city during COVID times, is for the organisation of a training camp much more complex and difficult than before,” said a statement from the Belgian football association.

Belgium went to St Petersburg last Friday, beat their Russian hosts 3-0 there on Saturday in their opening game of Euro 2020 and flew back to Brussels on Sunday.

“The Belgian FA has been forced to undertake this action in order to protect its players and staff,” statement continued.

“By doing so, the players will train in Tubize, in a more COVID-safe environment and with the best possible training conditions.

“Since St Petersburg will organise three extra games, the training ground at the Petrovsky stadium will suffer more, which could play a key role in the preparation for the Finland game,” it added.

St Petersburg was handed more matches to host when Dublin was removed as one of the venues in April.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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