Illinois opener in Ireland moved to Champaign

Local Sports

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Illinois football will no longer open the 2021 season in Dublin, Ireland, the school announced Wednesday. The game against Nebraska will now be played at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

Both teams came to the conclusion after consultation with the Irish government, medical authorities, and administration from both schools. Illinois are now scheduled to play seven homes games during the season. The season opener is still set to be played Aug. 28.

“This is very disappointing for our athletic program, our team and for the fans who were planning to attend the game in Dublin,” said Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman. “For our players, staff and fans, this would have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We will work diligently with Irish American Events and the Big Ten Conference to find a future opportunity for us to take Fighting Illini Football to the Emerald Isle.”

“It is desperately disappointing that it is necessary to cancel the 2021 Aer Lingus College Football Classic but public health must take precedent,” said Neil Naughton, Chairman of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic. “These games offer huge publicity potential, practical economic benefits, and a genuine expression of the close ties between Ireland and the United States. We have made great friends with both the University of Illinois and the University of Nebraska and I look forward to welcoming them back to Ireland in the not-too-distant future and giving their travelling fans the welcome Ireland is so famous for.”

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