Iceland granted travel exemption for Nations League clash vs England

LONDON (Reuters) - England’s Nations League game against Iceland will take place at Wembley Stadium next week after the visitors were granted a travel exemption by the UK government, the soccer governing body said on Thursday.

Wednesday’s game was initially in doubt due to the government’s travel ban on non-UK visitors arriving from Denmark, who are scheduled to face Iceland three days before the game against England.

The restrictions relate to a new coronavirus strain that has spread to humans from mink in Denmark.

The FA earlier on Thursday requested the government to grant Iceland’s players an exemption, saying strict protocols would be followed and the players would be housed in a bio-secure bubble.

“We are pleased to confirm that following discussions with the relevant authorities next Wednesday’s Nations League fixture against Iceland will go ahead at Wembley Stadium,” the FA said in a statement.

The Department for Transport said a “temporary and extremely limited exemption” would be provided for players and support staff from Denmark and Iceland to ensure the fixture could be staged as planned.

“The government has announced a limited exemption for a small number of Danish and Icelandic football players to travel from the UK to Copenhagen and back, without the need to self-isolate, to take part in upcoming international fixtures,” the Department for Transport was quoted as saying by BBC.

British media reported that Albania and Germany were being considered as alternative venues for the fixture but the FA said it was in the best interests of the team to play at Wembley rather than in a different country following the same UEFA protocols.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris and Pritha Sarkar