British fury over Swedish coach’s athlete picks

Veteran Swedish athletics coach Peter Eriksson has come under fire in the UK for "ridiculous" decisions about which athletes will represent Britain at the upcoming European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg.

British fury over Swedish coach's athlete picks

The accusations from English long-distance runner Paula Radcliffe after Eriksson, the new head British Athletics coach, on Tuesday unveiled his first squad since taking charge.

Eriksson, who replaced Charles van Commenee after the Dutchman stood down following the London 2012 Olympic Games, announced a squad of 29 for next month’s European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg.

But what irked British stalwart Radcliffe was that Eriksson appeared to have made his selections purely on the basis of topping the eight medals the team won at the same event in Paris two years ago.

That meant promising athletes were overlooked with women’s marathon world record-holder Radcliffe taking to Twitter to say it was “totally ridiculous” that not one male 1,500 metres runner had been included in Eriksson’s squad.

Britain’s Charlie Grice, still only 19, achieved the qualifying standard of three minutes 42.00 seconds in finishing ninth at the IAAF indoor meeting in Birmingham, central England, on Saturday.

However, an unapologetic Eriksson said: “The first page and the first sentence on the selection criteria is that we will be selecting only top-six potential. None of the (1,500m) guys are top-six potential.

“We follow the criteria that was determined quite a while ago.”

However, British 1,500m runner James Brewer, who competed at the 2009 World Championships, was unimpressed.

The 24-year-old also took to Twitter where he posted a mocked-up picture of Eriksson saying: “The important thing in selecting the British team is not giving an athlete the honour of representing their country but in wielding our power to deny the dreams of others.

“The important thing in life is not encouraging young talent but in saying, ‘If we don’t think you are going to be in the top six, you may as well give up now’,” he added.

AFP/The Local/dl

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‘No exceptions’: Italy and UK warn England fans against travel to Rome for Euro quarter final

The Italian government on Wednesday reminded England fans not to travel to Rome for Saturday's Euro 2020 quarter final match against Ukraine amid ongoing coronavirus travel restrictions.

‘No exceptions’: Italy and UK warn England fans against travel to Rome for Euro quarter final
Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP

Italy is expected to increase checks and strictly enforce its quarantine rules amid concerns that thousands of people could arrive in Rome from the UK for the match despite the country’s travel restrictions.

All arrivals in Italy from the UK have to quarantine for five days and take two coronavirus tests under current health measures – but there are reportedly concerns that some fans will be unaware of the rules.

EXPLAINED: How has Italy changed its rules on travel from the UK? 

“I am clear and unequivocal – the English fans will not be able to come to Italy to watch the match at the Olimpico against Ukraine on July 3rd,” Andrea Costa, a junior Italian health minister, told Radio Kiss Kiss Napoli on Wednesday.

“There are five days of quarantine, the rule must be respected. We cannot take risks. If an English fan leaves today, he won’t see the game. Same for those who left yesterday.”

The Italian Embassy in London also said in posts on its social media channels on Wednesday that “Fans travelling to Euro 2020 matches are not exempted” from Italy’s quarantine rules.

Meanwhile, UK Trade Minister Anne Marie Trevelyan said: “our request is to support the national team from your home, to cheer in front of the TV as loud as you can”.

Italy’s Interior Ministry is reportedly planning to step up police checks at airports and train stations and road checkpoints in case fans attempt to travel, Italian news agency Ansa reports.

Ansa cited government sources who said the quarantine rules “will be enforced to the letter” and “no exceptions will be granted”.

England fans living in Italy on Wednesday were scrambling to buy tickets for the match after the FA stated that it aimed to “facilitate as many ticket sales to English residents in Italy as possible” while fans in the UK were unable to travel.

Dozens of readers contacted The Local on Wednesday asking where they could get tickets, after UK media reports stated that the British Embassy would be distributing them.

The FA had stated that it was “working with Uefa and the British embassy in Italy” to facilitate sales.

However, the British Embassy in Rome confirmed to The Local on Wednesday morning that it “is not selling or distributing tickets for the match on Saturday in Rome”.

READ ALSO: Bars, house parties and fan zones: Where and how can you watch Euro 2020 matches in Italy?

The British Embassy said in a statement to The Local: “Under the UK Government’s traffic light system Italy is currently listed as an amber country.

“The UK Government’s travel advice clearly states that fans should not travel to red and amber countries to protect public health in the UK from new Covid variants.

“The Italian authorities are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry into Italy. Its current guidance states that from June 21st, people travelling from the UK or those who have been in the UK in the previous 14 days must self-isolate for 5 days upon arrival in Italy, after which they must take a rapid antigenic or molecular swab test for Covid-19 and test negative for release.

“This means that fans travelling from the UK to Italy after June 28th will not arrive in time to be able to watch the Euro 2020 quarter-final in Rome on July 3rd 2021.”

Britain is experiencing a surge in new coronavirus cases, blamed on the Delta variant that was first detected in India.