Why England v Italy is being played behind closed doors with no fans

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England host Italy in the Nations League this evening and supporters will not be allowed to attend

England and Italy meet in the Nations League this evening at Molineux, the home of Premier League side Wolves.

The game, however, won’t be played in front of spectators. There will be no-one in attendance as punishment for unrest at Wembley Stadium during last summer’s Euro 2020 final.

The same opposition met that day, with Italy running out winners after a penalty shootout. The final will be remembered for all the wrong reasons too, with horrendous scenes before kick-off, with supporters storming Wembley security and fans fighting with police. Hundreds entered without tickets and England boss Gareth Southgate called the ban an “embarrassment for England as a country”.

UEFA dished out the punishment last October, which included a two-game stadium ban, but the second game was suspended for two years. A fine of 100,000 euros was also issued.

The stadium won’t be entirely empty, however. There will be around 3,000 people at Molineux, mainly schoolchildren under the age of 14 who, under Uefa rules, are allowed free admission to fixtures played behind closed doors.

Speaking about the incidents at Wembley last July, Southgate said: “A lot of the people that caused the problems I’m not certain were football fans. We spoke enough about it, we spoke about it after the final and when the punishment was first given.”

“What I will say is the vast majority of our fans who travelled to Germany behaved brilliantly,” he added. “A big thank you to them because maybe people were thinking something different but there were a huge majority who were a credit.”

Italy boss Roberto Mancini said: “We would have preferred to play with supporters. Football without supporters is not football and is not good for an important game like this. I agree with him (Southgate).

“I don’t know if it (the punishment) is appropriate. I don’t remember what happened outside the stadium at Wembley.

“But it’s very difficult for me, after one year without supporters, to play again with no supporters, it’s very difficult. It’s better because football is more beautiful with supporters. It’s going to be a very different game because we play here and behind closed curtains.”

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