England’s footballers are facing the prospect of a sleepless night before their opening Euro 2016 game against Russia on Saturday after being given a hotel directly opposite Marseille’s fan zone – and a beach party that will go on until the early hours involving up to 80,000 people.
Roy Hodgson and his players are preparing for a restless night after Uefa designated them the four-star Golden Tulip Villa Massalia close to the site at Plage du Prado where France’s opening game against Romania will be shown on two giant screens, followed by a live concert by Cerrone, a record producer billed as “the master of French disco”.
England have encountered these problems before when the hotel they chose for the World Cup in Brazil two years ago had to be switched because it was opposite the fan zone on Copacabana beach and Hodgson did not want his players to be kept awake.
The same possibility awaits the team when they fly to Marseille on Friday with the fan zone organisers saying they are hoping for a near-capacity crowd to see the host nation kick off the tournament.
The fan zones are supposed to close at midnight but Uefa say “exceptions will be made on certain nights” to keep them open longer and Friday is the one occasion in Marseille when they have permission to continue until 1am.
A burlesque routine will start the event and Cerrone, with more than 30 million records sold worldwide, will put on a two-hour show starting at 11pm. Even if the party finishes on time, previous tournaments suggest a France win would extend it by several hours in the surrounding area – with England’s hotel right in the thick of it.
The only consolation for Hodgson and his players as they prepared to leave their base in Chantilly was that Uefa has put the Russia team in the nearby Palm Beach hotel, where they also face the prospect of being disturbed. A Football Association spokesman said: “Uefa allocate the hotels for both teams in the host city.”
Hodgson is probably entitled to wish Uefa could have found an alternative location. England encountered something similar in Euro 2012 when Hodgson threatened to walk out of the team’s hotel in the centre of Krakow because of the din on the first night. The FA officials who had picked the hotel talked him out of it and struck a deal, using some of the town’s dignitaries, to persuade the nearby Hooters bar to close off an outside area.
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