Science | January 15, 2022 7:12 am

Who Has Authority Over a Stadium Located in Two Countries?

A pressing question for one soccer team

Chester FC stadium
A general view of the Deva Stadium, home stadium of Chester City, during the pre season friendly between Chester City and Sheffield Wednesday.
James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Watching sports during the pandemic can make for an informal case study in how different regions are responding to public outdoor events. This is especially noticeable when comparing the same sports in different countries — a Premier League soccer game might be taking place in front of a full or reduced-capacity stadium, while that game’s counterpart in the Bundesliga plays out before an empty arena.

But what happens when a sporting event is held in a location where two nations meet? That’s the dilemma explored in a recent New York Times article. At the heart of the matter is Chester F.C., who play in the sixth division of English soccer. The entrance to their stadium is in England; the stadium itself, however, is mostly situated in Wales. This has, historically, not been an issue.

That was before the current pandemic, however. With the rise of the Omicron variant, England and Wales opted for different methods to regulate public gatherings. As the article points out, a pair of Chester F.C. games where over 2,000 fans gathered were in line with English regulations but violated Welsh regulations.

Chester F.C. postponed one game while working out a solution. However, this dispute might not be an issue for much longer; according to a recent report, the Welsh government announced that stadiums in Wales would be allowed to be at full capacity beginning on January 21. It’s a timely solution to an oddly philosophical question on borders, governance and jurisdiction.