So, EURO 2020 is going to be a ‘Euro for Europe’ apparently, as if we haven’t got enough problems already at the moment with the real one of those. The decision for the competition to be hosted all across the continent having been made earlier this month at a UEFA Executive Committee meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, with UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino commenting on the matter:
"2020 is the 60th anniversary of the European Football Championship. Obviously the fact that the EURO will feature 24 teams instead of 16 puts an additional burden on countries to host such an event. It becomes much more difficult for many countries – the requirements are becoming bigger and bigger. An opportunity like this, to give many cities and many countries the possibility to host even just one part of a EURO, is certainly an excellent thing, especially in times when you have an economic situation where you cannot expect countries to invest in facilities in the way that such an event requires.
"Certainly one of the purposes of this decision is to help countries, who are perhaps not sure today whether they should build a national stadium – giving them the impetus to build such a stadium. Instead of having a party in one country, we will have a party all over Europe in the summer of 2020."
Whether the idea, first touted by UEFA President Michel Platini at the end of EURO 2012, being implemented is one of necessity is certainly open to debate though. Ten bids of initial interest, some of them joint ones including Scotland/Wales/Republic of Ireland, having been put forward only for Platini in March of this year to express his preference for Turkey, support quickly waning on that front however with Turkey in the middle of a match-fixing scandal as well as the fact that Istanbul is already bidding to host the 2020 Olympic Games.
It would seem then that a ‘EURO for Europe’ quickly became the best of a bad bunch as far as ideas were concerned, with the move from 24 teams to 16 being a key factor for a host country in these times of austerity. The Executive Committee seemingly recognising that too as the matter was apparently passed without the need for a vote, with the final decision on where games will be played set to be made as soon as the spring of 2014.
How that will work though is another big question to answer, is a bidding process, set to start next March, simply going to be all amount money, which you would guess so with UEFA, and therefore the big countries are going to be in a position to financially out-muscle the likes of say Belgium or Switzerland? One of the financially stronger counties, in ourselves, already sniffing around the hosting of the final as FA chairman David Bernstein commented: “Wembley is incredibly highly thought of by UEFA and it is something we will probably push for. UEFA want to host a semi-final and the final on the same ground or in the same city and I think we will be on their shortlist, although there will be some strong competition.”
Platini is a big fan of Wembley too, after selecting the stadium to host the Champions League final in both 2011 and 2013, although the cynical view of his wanting of a ‘EURO for Europe’ says that he is simply trying to garner support all across the continent ahead of his bid to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president in 2015, Blatter having stated in canvassing for the 2011 election that he would not run again for president if re-elected for another four years.
Where will it leave the fans is of course one of the many other questions. In some ways it will be better to go to three different countries to watch three group games from a point of variety, but then the cost of doing that is clearly going to be a lot greater than pitching base camp in one country for a couple of weeks. Still, when did UEFA last wonder about what suits the supporters as far as the hosting of any games is concerned?