Euro 2020: Wales fans swap stadiums for pubs and converted garages

By Ben Price
BBC News

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media captionThe Wales fans forming a new South Asian supporters' group

Thousands of Welsh football fans hoping to follow Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey around Europe will be watching their team on TV instead.

Covid travel rules and no official fan zones mean most of the "Red Wall" will follow Euro 2020 at home or in the pub.

Wales kick off their European campaign against Switzerland in Baku on Saturday at 14:00 BST.

Rhian Davies and her partner Bryn have swapped their tournament tickets to stay in their garden in Moelfre, Powys.

Despite having plans to travel to Azerbaijan and Italy this summer, they decided to cancel their trip in April due to the Welsh government's travel advice.

"I couldn't justify going as a parent and then coming back and having to quarantine for another ten days on our return," she said.

"Instead, we'll be watching the games as a family and with friends. I've just bought a brand new 65-inch television to watch the matches."

While most people will watch the games at home or in the pub, Covid rules on who you can have round, and what you can do in your local remain in place, with people warned not to sing, chant and to remain social distanced while watching the games.

image copyrightRhian Davies
image captionRhian Davies from Powys will be watching the Euros in her garden

Quarantine fears

Steve Ward from Rhondda has hardly missed a Wales match since 1997, but he decided against travelling across Europe this year due to the restrictions.

He has transformed his garage into a bar with lots of football memorabilia and has painted a Welsh football mural on the inside of the garage door.

"Me and my mates are gutted not to be going," he said. "We were having a last-minute look for flights to Azerbaijan this week again but, no, I can't do it because of the quarantine when we get back."

"We're going to have friends here at home to watch the match in the garage on Saturday. We'll be in Aberdyfi to watch the Turkey game because we're going on a mini-trip around Wales during the week. Then back here for the Italy match."

Welsh football magazine show FC Cymru will also be broadcasting live from Steve's house during the Italy match.

image copyrightSteve Ward
image captionSteve Ward's garage is ready for Euro 2020

'Together Stronger'

To further boost Wales' hopes during the tournament, a new supporters group in south Wales called Amar Cymru has also been created for the South Asian community.

One of the group's founders, Jalal Goni, said: "Historically South Asians have been to cricket but that's not the case in south Wales.

"The number one sport is football. With the Euros starting now, and Wales' message of Together Stronger, we want to be a part of that.

"The definition of Amar is 'my'. It's used in the South Asian community to mean 'mine', and Cymru, as we all know, is the best place in the world, so 'Amar Cymru' means 'My Wales'."

Another member of the group, Babru Miah, said: "To get to two European tournaments back-to-back is amazing.

"It doesn't matter too much how we do. We're there and that's the main thing. I'm going to enjoy it either way."

What are the rules?

  • Strict Covid rules remain in place for who you can have round and what you can do in the pub
  • Wherever you watch the game, the Welsh government is asking fans to avoid shouting, singing, or chanting, due to the way the virus is spread
  • Two metre social distancing rules remain in place
  • Only those in extended households can meet inside a home to watch the game
  • If you are not in their extended household and are thinking of going round to a friend's house to watch the game, you must stay outside
  • Up to 30 people can go to a private garden, beer garden or park to watch the game outdoors, but you must social distance, so no hugging, sharing drinks or food, and no singing
  • Up to six people from up to six households can go inside a pub together, but if they are not in your extended household you must social distance
  • Publicans are being told to keep the noise of the game to a "background level" to stop people shouting
  • Masks will have to be worn while not seated, and people are being told not to stand, with all food and drink having to be consumed at a table

'Heavy hearts'

image copyrightAnwen Charles
image captionAnwen and Rhodri Charles followed Wales around France in 2016, when Osian was a baby

Anwen Charles and her husband Rhodri followed Wales around France in 2016. Their then six-month-old son Osian experienced the tournament too and made it on to Match of the Day's highlights.

Four years on and the family will be watching from home, having decided not to travel.

She said: "We were going to Baku and then to Rome, but we decided to cancel the flights with a heavy heart. It was too much of a risk.

"Maybe there'll be scope to go to a match if we make the knock-out rounds - fingers crossed.

"We're away camping this weekend, so we'll watch the Switzerland game in the pub, but we have a projector and screen ready for the garden to watch the Turkey and Italy matches," she said.

image copyrightBrad Evans
image captionBrad Evans and fellow fans with the flag that has travelled to every Wales away match for 10 years

Brad Evans is part of a group of supporters from Llandudno Junction who had hoped to follow their heroes in Europe again this summer but the group of 12 decided in February not to go.

Instead, they will be watching the matches at their local pub. Their Llandudno Junction Wales flag, which has not missed a Wales away trip in 10 years, will be staying at home too.

He said: "We had a week in Baku planned originally and then we would fly to Milan and get a train to Rome. We're gutted not to be going.

"We've had the majority of flights refunded or had vouchers.

"I reckon we need one win and a draw and that should be enough to get out of the group.

"If we can pick up points in the first two games that should be okay. Italy away is the toughest."

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