Wales

Coronavirus: Football fans want help with Euro 2020 travel refunds

Wales celebrate Ramsey's first goal Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Wales qualified for Euro 2020 after beating Hungary

Football fans struggling to get refunds for travel to watch Wales play at Euro 2020 say they have been left with no help.

Before the tournament was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, thousands had paid to watch the games in Azerbaijan and Rome, in June.

Some have managed to get refunds or vouchers from their airlines but others are struggling.

The Welsh Government said the situation was "unprecedented".

A spokesman added: "We hope all affected travellers, including fans who were looking forward to watching Wales play in Euro 2020, are able to secure refunds."

Angharad Walters' family from Ferndale, Rhondda Cynon Taff, spent £2,500 on travel ahead of the tournament.

Her parents were due to take her 16-year-old son Louis to the Azerbaijan capital Baku to celebrate the end of his GCSEs and then the whole family were going to meet up in Rome for the game against Italy there.

The flights have now been cancelled but Mrs Walters thinks it will be a long time before she sees any refunds.

Image copyright Angharad Walters
Image caption The Walters family was looking forward to a summer following the Wales team

"It's been stressful and for people who don't generally book flights and make travel arrangements on their own, I can imagine this is going to be really stressful for them to deal with," she said.

"Nobody has stepped up and said, 'right guys, here's a point of contact for you if you need help'.

"Because there's going to be people out there who are not tech savvy - how are they going to manage to fill in numerous forms online or do a charge back on their credit card?"

She believes some people are going to be in circumstances where "they haven't got a clue how they are going to get their money back".

Image copyright Rhys Williams
Image caption Rhys Williams previously travelled to watch Wales play in France during Euro 2016

Rhys Williams, a chemical engineer from Blaina, Blaenau Gwent, was due to travel to the games against Turkey and Switzerland, in Baku, with a friend.

They spent £600 each on the flights and, at the moment, two of the flights they booked are still going ahead.

"As soon as the fixture schedule came out in January, we went ahead and booked flights and accommodation," he said.

"To keep the cost down, we were taking a bit of a convoluted flight route to get to Baku. So we had three different flight bookings for the return trip for the week.

"As it stands, our flight out on 11 June is still scheduled and going ahead out of Gatwick. But under the Welsh Government rules, it's my understanding that would be classed as non-essential travel, for us to drive to Gatwick and take a flight, and obviously we'd be at risk of a fine if we tried to do that."

Image copyright Rhys Williams
Image caption Wales got to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, where they lost to eventual winners Portugal

Mr Williams wrote to his local Member of the Senedd Alun Davies, himself a Wales football fan, who has since asked the first minister if he can step in.

"We all know that the Euros can't go ahead. But what we need is the government to help people to address the issues they are having with different airlines," he added.

"A government has an opportunity to act, not just in terms of the law but also as a catalyst, to talk to ministers elsewhere, to talk to airlines.

"All of us want to get behind the national team, all of us want to see the team do well. And I think that means taking care of the fans and supporters as well."

More on this story