The Estonian Football Association (EJL) will apply for a government exemption allowing third country football national teams to enter Estonia for UEFA European Championships qualifying matches without the 14-day coronavirus isolation requirement.
Aivar Pohlak, president of the EJL, wrote to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) and Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa): "Estonia is currently the only country in Europe who has not created an opportunity for its national team to play all home matches in their home country. In addition, matches will also support the tourism sector."
Pohlak noted that having to play four home matches away from Estonia would cost the association close to €200,000, including charter flights, stadium rent, TV broadcasts, accomodation, transport and organizational fees.
The EJL president said that if national team matches were to be played in Estonia, they would be held under strict COVID-19 alleviation regulations, meaning all teams must travel by charter flights, stay at separated floors in four-star hotels, move only between the airport, stadium and hotel and wear a face mask. The matches would also host no spectators.
Stadiums would also be distributed into zones, where contact between the delegations would be reduced to a minimum. Teams would arrive in Estonia the day before a match and would leave immediately after, the period during which foreign athletes would be in the country would not exceed 48 hours.
Pohlak wrote: "All delegations arriving in Estonia from other third countries would be tested by Synlab at least 48 hours before departure, repeat testing would be conducted upon arrival in Estonia. COVID-19 testing is organized by UEFA (governing body of European football - ed.) in cooperation with Synlab, who will forward all data."
He emphasized that the inclusion of an infected player or team member in a match is impossible.
The Estonian Football Association is asking for an exemption for the following matches, all set to take place in Estonia:
- Estonia - North Macedonia, October 11 (A. Le Coq Arena, Tallinn)
- U21 Estonia - U21 Serbia, October 13 (Pärnu)
- Estonia - Armenia, October 14 (A. Le Coq Arena, Tallinn)
- Estonia women - Turkey women, November 27 (A. Le Coq Arena, Tallinn)
Pohlak is asking the government to react fast, as UEFA is expecting a decision from Estonia by Thursday, September 24.
EJL, along with Estonian top basketball team Kalev/Cramo, has proposed this exemption on multiple occasions, but it has not yet been allowed due to pushback by Minister of Finance Martin Helme and his coalition EKRE. Helme has not yet commented on the topic.
A similar exemption was established for WRC Rally Estonia in early-September.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste