NYON: The apparently unstoppable rise of Azerbaijan as an ambitious new player in the sports event host scene continued when Baku was selected as one of the venues for the finals of the pan-European Euro football finals in 2020.
The executive committee of European federation UEFA chose the host cities today for the experimental format created out of an proposal from president Michel Platini the two years ago.
As expected, Wembley will host the two semi-finals and final after the German federation withdrew a rival bid from Munich ahead of a DFB campaign to host the entire European Championship finals in 2024.
Wales is the one British association to have missed out. Hampden Park, Glasgow, will host three group games and one second round match.
Azerbaijan hosted the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup two years ago and stages the inaugural European Games next year. Beyond that Baku will no welcome three group games and one quarter-final in Euro 2020. The state is also the shirt sponsor of Spanish champions Atletico de Madrid.
However the distance far east to the banks of the Caspian Sea apparently undermined Platini’s initial comment two years ago that cut-price airlines would make this an affordable event for fans after the travel issues which deterred supporters from travelling to Ukraine in 2012.
All teams will participate in the qualifying competition and the 13 countries staging matches will therefore not be automatically qualified.
A maximum of two host teams will be drawn into each of the six final tournament groups, with every qualified host being guaranteed two home games in the group phase. There would not be any such guarantee for the knockout stages.
For the group stage, the group composition would remain subject to seeding and to a draw. However, the allocation of hosting teams to groups would also take travel distances into account (for example, and where feasible, flights would not exceed two hours’ duration between host cities to allow easy access to travelling fans).
England/Wembley, London: semi-finals and final
Azerbaijan/Baku: three group games, one quarter-final
Belgium/Brussels: three group games, one round of 16 game
Denmark/Copenhagen: three group games, one round of 16 game
Germany/Munich: three group games, one quarter-final
Holland/Amsterdam: three group games, one round of 16 game
Hungary/Budapest: three group games, one round of 16 game
Italy/Rome: three group games, one quarter-final
Rep. Ireland/Dublin: three group games, one round of 16 game
Romania/Bucharest: three group games, one round of 16 game
Russia/St Petersburg: three group games, one quarter-final
Scotland/Glasgow, Hampden: three group games, one round of 16 game
Spain/Bilbao: three group games, one round of 16 game
The regulations prescribed the following categories:
• 70,000 for semi-finals/final;
• 60,000 for quarter-finals;
• 50,000 for round of 16 and group matches; and
• Up to two exceptions would be made for stadiums of a net minimum capacity of 30,000 seats, limited to group fixtures and a round of 16 game.