The 2021 Nebraska Cornhuskers at Illinois Fighting Illini football game has been moved from Dublin, Ireland to Champaign, Ill., due to the ongoing novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The game was scheduled to be played at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, and was dubbed the Aer Lingus College Football Classic. The game will now be played at Illinois’ Memorial Stadium in Champaign and will remain on its previously scheduled date of Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, which is Week Zero (i.e. the Saturday prior to Labor Day weekend).
“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.”
Nebraska and Illinois last met during the 2020 season at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb. The Cornhuskers defeated the Fighting Illini in that contest, 41-23.
“We are disappointed that we will not be able to travel to Ireland to open the 2021 football season in Dublin,” Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos said. “The trip would have been a memorable experience for the young men in our football program, so I feel badly they won’t have this opportunity.
“There was also a high level of excitement and interest in the game among our great fan base, and I know many of them were looking forward to making the trip to cheer on the Huskers. Anthony Travel and Irish American Events have been a great partner throughout this process, and we will continue to explore the possibility of taking Nebraska Football to Dublin in the future.”
“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.”