UEFA 'cannot exclude' the idea of playing Euro 2016 in empty stadiums amid terror threat

UEFA 'cannot exclude' the idea of playing Euro 2016 in empty stadiums amid terror threat

UEFA have admitted they cannot rule out the possibility of playing Euro 2016 behind closed doors if the threat of terrorism in France rises.

The governing body's executive committee vice-president, Giancarlo Abete, said UEFA “cannot exclude” the idea of carrying out games in empty stadiums in the wake of 34 deaths following two attacks in the Belgian city of Brussels on Tuesday.

Last November, terrorist attacks killed 130 people in Paris, with France's national sports stadium – the Stade de France – believed to have been an original target for one of the suicide bombers responsible for the deaths.

"Euro 2016 is the kind of event that we can't delay or postpone,” Abete told Italian radio station Radio24.

"We can't exclude the possibility of playing behind closed doors, as we cannot exclude terrorism. If we talked about potentially cancellable games, such as a friendly or a competitive match, they could be moved to another date.

"But we are talking about games which are staged for June whereas, today, we are going through a very urgent emergency."

The friendly between Belgium and Portugal, which was due to take place in Brussels on March 29, has been moved to Portugal.

The Republic of Ireland will face Belgium in their second game at Euro 2016 at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux on June 18 after opening against Sweden in Paris on June 13.

They will close out their group against Italy in Lille on June 22.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland begin their campaign against Poland in Nice on June 12, before taking on Ukraine in Lyon on June 16, followed by Germany in Paris on June 21.