The UEFA Executive Committee has approved significant amendments to the fifth edition of the UEFA Return to Play Protocol, which sets out the framework of sanitary and hygiene-related procedures as well as operational protocols to be applied when staging UEFA competition matches.
With respect to the medical principles, the amendments are a result of the ongoing vaccination campaigns across Europe and the decision of many countries to allow vaccinated and recovered individuals to freely move across borders and attend public events without further testing.
With regard to the operational principles, the changes approved have been proposed following the experiences gathered across more than 2,000 UEFA competition matches now successfully played.
The main updates of the UEFA Return to Play Protocol version 5 are as follows:
1. Testing programme: (Section 6)
It was decided to exclude all individuals which are fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 and/or have recovered from COVID-19 from any further testing for purposes of entering Zone 1 at UEFA matches. However, it is important to note that it remains within the sole responsibility of the teamto verify ahead of travelling to any match venue in another country whether all vaccinated and/or recovered individuals of the team are permitted to enter the country and/or the stadium according to any requirements imposed by the competent national/local authorities.
This includes checking if the type of vaccination of all individuals of a team delegation is accepted by authorities of the country which they are going to visit for the match. In case any additional entry requirements (e.g. testing upon arrival) are applicable, the team is responsible for complying with such rules, in order to be able to enter the relevant country and participate in the respective UEFA match.
It is the responsibility of the teams to organise and bear the cost of the sample collection and testing with an accredited testing service provider. If necessary, UEFA may, upon request, provide assistance to the teams with the organisation of the relevant testing using its appointed laboratory diagnostics service provider.
2. Admission of Spectators: (Section 13)
Considering the different rules and regulations applicable across the UEFA member association territories, it was decided to no longer apply the MHHRRS, but to leave any decision with regards to spectators to the relevant competent authorities. Therefore, the relevant section referring to the admission of spectators in the UEFA Return to Play Protocol has been adapted accordingly.
Moreover, in line with the adaptations to the Protocol, the exchange of tickets for the fans of visiting teams is no longer forbidden. Therefore, standard practices will be reinstated, i.e. 5% of the total allowed stadium capacity will be reserved to fans of the away team, subject to any decision in this respect falling under the responsibility of the relevant competent authorities.
3. Operational Principles: (Sections 5 & 14)
It was decided to remove the mandatory distancing requirements in outdoor working areas which will also allow additional stadium operations to take place and may allow higher numbers of broadcast and media to attend matches. All stadium operations will nonetheless, as always, remain subject to any rules or requirements imposed by the local authorities.