NYON: A working group within European federation UEFA has started to come up with the framework demands on which the final stages of Euro 2012 will be constructed.
President Michel Platini came up with the idea of a pan-European finals last summer after UEFA realised that, in the current economic climate, no major nation fancied the headache of hosting the overblown 24-team finals.
The only single-nation option came from Turkey but the Turks were trying to balance bids for the Euro finals and the Olympics in the same summer and managed to irritate both UEFA and the IOC.
UEFA’s concept is for 12 cities to host the group matches with a 13th hosting both the semi-finals and the final.
UEFA’s working group met at headquarters in Nyon near Geneva on Tuesday and reported back to Platini the following day.
Ten of the 12 stadia should have a minimum capacity of 50,000 but two host venues can be as low as 30,000, to provide access for Europe’s more modest nations on which Platini depends for his voting support (both within UEFA and maybe, one day, at FIFA).
Only 21 of the 53 UEFA member nations have stadiums of 50,000 or more.
The four stadia to host the quarter-finals need a minimum capacity of 60,000 while the 13th venue needs a minimum all-seater capacity of 70,000. Europe has a dozen 70,000-plus stadia but the need for a major-city, easily-accessible venue narrows down most-favoured contenders to Berlin and Wembley.*
Each host city must also offer two international airports to ensure travel ease and security of two sets of fans but it is envisaged that finals participants would play at least two matches at home.
UEFA’s member associations approved the concept in December and a firmed-up framework is expected to be put to the executive committee on March 28.
Host countries and cities are scheduled to be decided early next year. This could still reward Istanbul with a major event if the city loses out to either Madrid or Tokyo when the IOC decides in September on the 2020 Olympic Games host.
** Europe’s 70,000-plus football venues are Barcelona (98,772), Wembley (90,000), Real Madrid (85,354), +Paris Stade de France (76,474), Dortmund (80,720), Milan (82,955), Moscow (78,360), Istanbul (76,092), Manchester Utd (76,212), Cardiff (72,500), Berlin (74,244) and Rome (82,307).
+ The Stade de France in Paris/Saint-Denis would be excluded because France is finals host in 2016.
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