Football world cup qualifier relocation to Poland cost state €140,000

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Estonian national football team players. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

Relocating a football world cup qualifier between Estonian and the Czech Republic in March cost the state a little over €140,000. The game was moved as a result of coronavirus considerations and gap between Estonia's domestic restrictions at the time, and UEFA's world cup qualifier attendance figures minimum requirements.

The government decided Monday to allocate €140,399 from the state reserve to cover the cost of the relocation for the game, which took place on March 24 and was supposed to be a home game at Tallinn's A. Le Coq Arena.

However, coronavirus regulations in force in Estonia at the time limited outdoor events to no more than 100 participants, while international football governing body UEFA requires a minimum of 150 people in a stadium for a world cup qualifier to go ahead.

After consultation with UEFA, the decision was made to hold the game in Lublin, Poland.

The cost was significantly lower, however, than original estimates, which put the figure at €300,000.

The change also followed several squad members having tested positive for the virus.

Spokesperson for the Estonian FA Mihkel Uiboleht told ERR at the time that postponement was not an alternative, since the international football calendar and dates by which players had to be released did not allow it.

The Estonian FA also failed to obtain an exemption from COVID-19 restrictions from the Health Board (Terviseamet) to host the game. The change, along with the outbreak of coronavirus which had hit the team, required a wholesale switch of players - 10 out of the 11 who started had not played in Estonia's previous world cup qualifier.

In the event, Estonia lost 6:2 on the night.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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