Stadia lend a hand as COVID throttles Europe


RSC Anderlecht stadium will become vaccination center Image: RSC Anderlecht

The Lotto Park Stadium in Belgium – residence of the Belgian Pro League football team Anderlecht – will serve as a COVID-19 vaccination center. An announcement to this regard was made by Anderlecht recently.

On the other hand, the Premier League club Manchester United has opened their residence – Old Trafford in Stretford, England, for use by St John Ambulance as a training center for England’s vaccination program as the United Kingdom continues to be battered by the new variant of coronavirus.

The 21,500-capacity Lotto Park is a football stadium in the municipality of Anderlecht, Brussels (Belgium). It is home to R.S.C. Anderlecht. It also hosted the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Euro 1972 semifinal match of Hungary against Soviet Union, as well as several games of the Belgium national football team.

R.S.C. Anderlecht is a Belgian professional football club and plays in the Belgian First Division A and is the most successful Belgian football team in European competitions, with five trophies, as well as in the Belgian domestic league, with 34 championship wins.

Lotto Park is set to be engaged as part of the Brussels-Capital Region’s multiphase strategy to ensure at least 70 percent of the population are protected against COVID-19 as Europe fights a tough battle against the fatal respiratory disease. The first phase, which commenced on December 28th, 2020, has seen primary care providers prioritized.

From the beginning of March, Lotto Park will be part of the second phase of vaccinations with the target of administering 25,000 jabs per month. The center’s operating times will be adjusted around Anderlecht games at the stadium, with the vaccination period to last until at least August 31st, 2021.

Jos Donvil, head honcho of Anderlecht, informed, “When the Anderlecht Mayor Fabrice Cumps contacted us with the request to fight the virus together, we did not hesitate to actively support the large-scale operation. Our role is to serve the community. We are proud to open the doors of our stadium to the people of Anderlecht and all other Brussels residents.”

Cumps added, “The RSC Anderlecht stadium is an iconic place to host the campaign. More than ever, the great cooperation between the club and the municipality serves all citizens.”

Meanwhile, the Premier League team Manchester United recently made its digs Old Trafford available for use by St John Ambulance as a training center for hundreds of volunteers as part of the NHS COVID-19 vaccination program. Four hospitality suites across the facility will continue to be used as a large-scale training facility over the next four weekends.

Manchester United Football Club is a professional football club based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, that competes in the Premier League, the top flight of English football.

Old Trafford is a football stadium in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, and the home of Manchester United. With a capacity of 74,140 seats, it is the largest club football stadium in the United Kingdom, and the 11th-largest in Europe.

London-headquartered St John Ambulance is a volunteer-led, charitable non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to the teaching and practice of first aid in England.

Across the United Kingdom, St John Ambulance will be training around 30,000 volunteers to administer COVID-19 vaccines in support of the nationwide effort against the pandemic. Those trained at Old Trafford will deliver vaccines across Greater Manchester.

Premier League team Manchester City F.C. this month detailed how it is providing assistance to the newly established COVID-19 vaccination center located at its home facility – Etihad Stadium. The Manchester Tennis and Football Centre, housed on the same Etihad Campus site as Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, was earlier named by the UK Government as one of the seven ‘super-vaccination’ centers.

Manchester City Football Club is an English football club based in Manchester that competes in the Premier League, the top flight of English football.

The City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester, England, also known as the Etihad Stadium for sponsorship reasons, is the home of Manchester City F.C., with a domestic football capacity of 55,017, making it the sixth-largest in the Premier League and 10th-largest in the United Kingdom.

Under its scheme, the Manchester United staff will also have the opportunity to volunteer for the program to be trained in the coming weeks. Last year, when COVID-19 let hell loose on the world, one of the first steps the club took was to produce 60,000 meals for the NHS staff in local hospitals.

This initiative involved over 80 club and foundation colleagues preparing £150,000 (€169,000/$205,000) worth of food which was delivered to four NHS Manchester sites. Car parks at Old Trafford Stadium were also used for drive-through testing while hospitality facilities were employed for a blood donation drive.

Collette Roche, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Manchester United, puts in, “The (Old Trafford) suites, parking, access and our dedicated events team can be valuable assets to this national effort to tackle COVID-19. We are proud to open our doors to St John Ambulance and welcome everyone involved in what is an inspirational project.”

The top shot added, “We recognize that our local community will be feeling the effects of the pandemic for some time and we remain committed to using our resources to support the response to this public health emergency and its social impacts.”

The National Health Service (NHS) announced on January 25th that more sports stadia and arenas adapted to become vaccination center. The new centers are among more than 30 opening across the country as the vaccination drive continues to gain momentum.

As previously reported, their numbers include League One football venues – the 12,400-capacity Kassam Stadium in Oxford, England, home of Oxford United Football Club, and the 16,388-capacity Home Park – football stadium in Plymouth, England, which serves as the residence of Plymouth Argyle – the League One football club. The 13,600-capacity Sheffield Arena in Sheffield, England, home to the Sheffield Steelers ice hockey club, will also be utilized.

There is now a network of 50 large-scale centers, capable of administering shots to thousands of people a week, across England.

The National Health Service (NHS) is the Government-funded medical and healthcare services that everyone living in the United Kingdom can use without being asked to pay the full cost of the service.

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