NYON: UEFA may find it hard to put the pan-European format for the European Championship in reverse after no fewer than 32 member countries registered an interest in hosting matches in 2020 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
When president Michel Platini unleashed his proposal last summer – after Turkey prioritised a bid for the Olympics over a bid for the traditional Euro finals – the Frenchman said the concept was a one-off.
However the increasing reluctance of mainstream nations to commit to staging an expanded finals and the cross-board popularity of the new format could prove permanent for both practical and political reasons.
The 2020 tournament will be staged at 13 cities around the continent. The candidate nations must submit their full bid dossier by April when they must nominate their host city.
All of the major European football nations, including England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy and Spain have also expressed a desire to host matches s well as Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.
Candidates have the right to change their initial host city selection, but must submit their final choices by next April 25 and UEFA will decide on September 25. Host nations are not guaranteed a presence in the finals.
The Football Association wants to host either the ‘finals’ package – which is the semi-finals and final – at Wembley, or a ‘standard’ package of three group games and a knockout round match, while Scotland is keen on the latter.
Platini said: “We are extremely proud to see the huge interest in the bidding process, with more than half of our member associations willing to host matches. These finals will be a great celebration of football across the European continent and the 60th anniversary edition will be truly special by really coming to the doorstep of all football fans.”
The tournament is usually held by one or two nations and Euro 2016 will be in France, with the competition being expanded from 16 teams to 24.
There will be 13 different packages for Euro 2020, with 12 of them including three group matches and one knockout game from either the last 16 or quarter-finals. The other ‘finals’ package is to host the semi-finals and the final, and the English FA has expressed an interest in both options.
FA general secretary Alex Horne said: “We would be delighted for London and Wembley Stadium to be chosen to host either of the two packages available and we look forward to working with UEFA on the forthcoming selection process.
“It would be great to see England playing in front of their home fans here in London as part of a Euro finals tournament, but many countries have also put themselves forward as hosts and we expect this to be a very competitive bidding process.”
The 32 countries
Armenia (Yerevan), Azerbaijan (Baku), Belarus (Minsk), Belgium (Brussels), Bulgaria (Sofia), Croatia (Zagreb), Czech Republic (Prague), Denmark (Copenhagen), England (London), Finland (Helsinki), France (Lyon), Macedonia (Skopje), Germany (Munich), Greece (Athens), Hungary (Budapest), Israel (Jerusalem), Italy (Rome and Milan), Kazakhstan (Astana), Netherlands (Amsterdam), Poland (Warsaw and Chorzow), Portugal (Lisbon and Porto), Republic of Ireland (Dublin), Romania (Bucharest), Russia (St Petersburg), Scotland (Glasgow), Serbia (Belgrade), Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Valencia), Sweden (Solna), Switzerland (Basel), Turkey (Istanbul), Ukraine (Kyiv and Donetsk) and Wales (Cardiff).