UEFA leans towards multi-country Euros

UEFA leans towards multi-country Euros

LAUSANNE - Agence France-Presse
UEFA leans towards multi-country Euros

UEFA President Michel Platini believes that the majority of the 53 member federations are in favor of the multi-city idea for the 2020 Championships. EPA photo

UEFA chief Michel Platini and his executive council will make a decision today whether to push ahead with the concept of changing tradition and hosting Euro 2020 across a number of European cities.

The Frenchman first proposed the idea on the eve of the Euro 2012 final between eventual champions Spain and Italy but the brainchild of the former playmaker could now move closer towards reality at meetings at a Lausanne hotel this week.

“If there is a majority, a decision could be made very quickly,” said Platini who captained France to the 1984 title when he set a still standing record of nine goals.

Turkey was believed to be the frontrunners of the Euro 2020 bid, but given Istanbul’s being a candidate city for the 2020 Olympics, both Platini and International Olympic Committee (IOC) chairman Jacques Rogge voiced their concerns about Turkey running for two major sports events on the same year.

Platini has indicated that the 60th anniversary of the competition could involve “12 or 13 cities across Europe,” making organization easier and alleviating cost and infrastructure problems, amidst the financial crisis across the continent.

If the council give their approval, a final decision will be made in early 2013 at further executive committee meetings. Platini feels that the majority of the 53 UEFA federations are in favor of the idea which would also help avoid building new stadiums or airports.

“I like the idea enormously and the vast majority of the executive committee found it was a very good idea,” Platini said previously. “Why should one or two host countries be obliged to build 10 stadiums, airports, etc.? Here there’ll be one stadium per country, per city, across Europe. It would be a lot simpler and cheaper.”

However certain countries such as Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia as well as a third joint bid put forward by Ireland, Scotland and Wales have all expressed their only desires to host a more traditional competition.

FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke who was in Sao Paulo for the recent Confederations Cup draw also expressed his opposition to the concept saying it would “destroy the spirit of the competition.”
“If I can express myself as Jerome Valcke only, not FIFA’s Secretary General, I would say that I don’t understand it,” said the Frenchman. “I don’t want to be critical and I understand that it meets a need for UEFA given that Europe is in a crisis, but this is not what’s best for the tournament. It’s a choice imposed by the economic situation.”