Euro 2016: UEFA asks players to keep their children off the grass

After stunning Belgium in the quarterfinals last Saturday, an entire team's worth of Wales players' children had a kickabout in the goalmouth.

By: AP | Paris | Updated: July 5, 2016 4:37 pm
Euro 2016, 2016 Euro, Euro Children, Wales children, Wales vs Belgium, Belgium vs Wales, Football Wales’ James Chester, left, and Wales’ Hal Robson Kanu play with their children on the pitch at the end of the Euro 2016 quarterfinal soccer match between Wales and Belgium. (Source: AP)

Yes, it is cute but, no, it is not safe.

UEFA explained Tuesday why it does not want players’ children to join in post-match celebrations at the European Championship.

The scenes of toddlers in full Wales kit joining their dads on the pitch after another Euro 2016 win has added to the surprise semifinalist’s feel-good story and delighted spectators.

READ: UEFA frowns upon Wales squad playing with kids after games

However, UEFA has asked for no more on-field family scenes when Wales plays Portugal in Lyon on Wednesday.

“It is a European Championship not a family party,” UEFA’s tournament director Martin Kallen said at a briefing.

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“A stadium is not the most safe place for small kids,” Kallen said. There could be problems if fans invaded the field, and stadium staff operating machinery on the playing surface could also be an issue.

Among the most vivid and defining images of Euro 2016 was Wales star Gareth Bale laughing and chasing his three-year-old daughter, Alba Violet, across the Parc des Princes pitch in Paris after a 1-0 win against Northern Ireland in the round of 16.

“To be able to share it with my daughter and my family was emotional for me,” Bale said later. “Obviously I haven’t seen them for four or five weeks now. It’s an amazing experience, one I’ll never forget.”

After stunning Belgium in the quarterfinals last Saturday, an entire team’s worth of players’ children had a kickabout in the goalmouth in front of the Wales fans in the stadium at Lille.

“It is nice pictures,” Kallen acknowledged. “We are not 100 percent against it but we are cautious.”

UEFA’s request to the Wales football federation was first reported on Monday by The Associated Press.

The Wales team is following a recent football tradition of players celebrating with their children, especially after cup finals.

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“It is getting more and more a habit that entire family members would like to go on the pitch or into the technical area,” Kallen said. “The principle is how far you go with having other people on the pitch than the players. People with accreditation cards should be on the pitch and not more.”

Kallen said UEFA has a responsibility to identify risk and ensure safety inside stadiums.

“Small kids of five, six years — if something happened, what do you do afterwards? What do you say?” he said. “From our side there should be a certain order.”

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