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The Latest: De Bruyne, Hazard will be last-minute decisions

July 1, 2021 GMT
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Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne reacts during the Euro 2020 soccer championship round of 16 match between Belgium and Portugal at La Cartuja stadium, Seville, Spain, Sunday, June 27, 2021. (Lluis Gene/Pool Photo via AP)
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Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne reacts during the Euro 2020 soccer championship round of 16 match between Belgium and Portugal at La Cartuja stadium, Seville, Spain, Sunday, June 27, 2021. (Lluis Gene/Pool Photo via AP)

The Latest on soccer’s European Championship:

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Belgium coach Roberto Martínez says he will wait to the last minute to decide whether Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard will play against Italy in the European Championship quarterfinals.

Martínez says it will be “difficult” for both players to recover from injuries in time for Friday’s game.

De Bruyne has a ligament issue in his left ankle following a tackle by Portugal midfielder João Palhinha and Martínez says Hazard has a “soft tissue injury” from the same game.

Martínez says “they didn’t join the group this morning ... but that’s probably something that we expected.”

Martínez says the goal is to “get them fit for the next few games.”

The winner of the match will face either Spain or Switzerland in the semifinals at Wembley Stadium in London.

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A plan for a charter plane to take Czech fans to Baku for the European Championship quarterfinal match against Denmark on Saturday has been canceled.

There are no direct flights between Prague and Baku and there are strict coronavirus restrictions in place in Azerbaijan. Fans also would have to isolate on arrival home.

The Czech national team fan club says initially about 300 people wanted to make the trip to Baku despite the restrictions but in the end not enough were ready to go.

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Germany’s interior minister says it was “absolutely irresponsible” for UEFA to allow more than 40,000 fans into Wembley Stadium to watch England play Germany in London at the European Championship.

The crowd of 41,973 at Tuesday’s match was the biggest in Britain since the pandemic began and came while the more contagious delta variant is fueling a significant increase in new cases in the country.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is also responsible for sports. He was asked about the attendance for the match and about the prospect of more fans attending the semifinals and final a Wembley.

He says “I think this UEFA position is absolutely irresponsible.”

Seehofer adds that he thinks money is driving the decision “and commerce must not outshine the protection of the population against infection.”

He also appealed to UEFA “not to push this off on local health authorities” and says the governing body of European soccer should say “we don’t want it this way and we’re reducing the numbers of spectators.”

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