32 countries compete to host Euro 2020 matches
DUBROVNIK, Croatia (AP)
A total of 32 countries have proposed 39 different cities to host matches at the 2020 European Championship, UEFA said Friday.
The national associations - representing more than half of the 54 UEFA countries - have not yet specified if they want to stage the final.
''It's an excellent piece of news and this shows that the idea was a good one,'' UEFA President Michel Platini said through a translator.
Platini suggested the broad hosting plan to reduce construction costs for host nations and travel expenses for fans.
UEFA will choose the 13 hosts, whose national teams must all get through qualifying to play at the 24-team tournament, in September 2014.
One city will host the final and both semifinals, with Istanbul the likely favorite after Turkey was edged by France to host Euro 2016. Twelve cities will each host a package of three group matches and one knockout match.
Spain has put forward four cities, including Barcelona and Madrid, though only two can be included in a formal bid next April. UEFA will select only one city per country.
Platini announced the innovative project on the eve of the final for Euro 2012, which was co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine and cost of billions of dollars to upgrade stadiums, airports, roads and other building projects.
Poland has offered Chorzow, which was not selected for Euro 2012, and Warsaw. Ukraine has put forward Kiev and Donetsk.
Platini said he expected some countries to drop out of the race before the April deadline to submit a bid dossier.
''We will have a few less options and fewer still between then and September,'' Platini said.
UEFA has said the project should take its marquee tournament to countries which could not stage it alone.
Applicants include Armenia (Yerevan), Azerbaijan (Baku), Belarus (Minsk) and Israel (Jersualem).
Among major European football nations, Italy has proposed Rome and Milan, England has proposed Wembley Stadium in London and Germany has chosen Munich. France has suggested Lyon, though it will also be a Euro 2016 host city.