Soccer’s Euro 2020 to be played across continent
The 2020 European Championship will be played across the
continent, giving about 45 countries hope of hosting the soccer
A decision on how many cities and countries will stage the
24-team, 51-match tournament is scheduled for the spring of
Gianni Infantino, general secretary of European soccer’s
governing body, called the format a ”Euro for Europe” and the
fulfillment of a wish by UEFA President Michel Platini, who floated
the idea in June.
”The only thing that is decided is that the concept is
changing. This leaves the door open to all countries,” said
Infantino, adding that 52 of UEFA’s 53 national members gave
support in recent consultations.
UEFA’s executive committee committed to Platini’s project
despite opposition from his most senior vice president, Senes Erzik
of Turkey. He wanted his country to host the tournament alone.
UEFA said the multinational hosting plan is in place only for
Euro 2020, and the 2024 host will be chosen in a traditional
Platini wants to ease the cost burden on hosts and fans, and
give smaller countries an opportunity to be in the sport’s global
The former France star said he was ”really passionate” about
the plan during Euro 2012, after seeing how co-hosts Poland and
Ukraine had been stretched to finance and complete stadiums,
airports and infrastructure costing billions of dollars for just 16
France will be the sole host for an expanded 24-team tournament
in 2016, having edged Turkey in a final vote.
UEFA believes the financial demands are too much for one or two
hosts during a prolonged economic downturn.
”The economic situation is such that you can’t expect countries
to invest in sporting facilities that such an event requires,”
Infantino said. ”The fact that the Euro moves from 16 to 24 teams
bears an additional burden on a country to host the event.”
Infantino suggested that the tournament could allow fans in
”10, 12, 15” countries to cheer their teams in matches played at
The detailed task of suggesting a format and logistics for the
monthlong tournament will be studied by UEFA’s national team
Infantino hinted that smaller countries that have never hosted a
Euro, World Cup or Champions League final could be encouraged in a
yearlong bidding process that will begin in January or March.
Romania, which hosted the Europa League final in May at a new,
50,000-plus stadium in Bucharest, will be a strong candidate to
host up to four matches.
Countries such as Hungary, Cyprus or Estonia could be given an
”impetus to build such a national stadium” seating about 40,000,
”We hope we can boost national team football with this
decision,” he said.
Still, major European powers such as England, France, Germany,
Italy and Spain will expect to be included. Some UEFA members,
whose entire population could fit in such a venue, can be excluded
One model format for Euro 2020 has each of the six four-team
groups allocated to two cities. Those 12 total venues could then
get one match each – completing an allocation of four – in the last
16 and quarterfinals stages combined. A 13th host could then stage
the semifinals and final.
Domenti Sichinava, president of Georgia’s soccer federation,
told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his country could share
group hosting with Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia or Turkey.
England has expressed interest in hosting the final stages at
Wembley Stadium. Istanbul is another contender after Turkey was
overlooked as the perceived favorite for sole rights to Euro
The UEFA panel advising on possible formats must look at how
many countries could want, or expect, home advantage to create a
Infantino said fans would find it ”difficult to understand” if
their country was a host but its national team played
The hosts, however, must be chosen ”well in advance” of the
qualifying matches. Qualifiers would likely be completed up to
eight months before the first Euro 2020 match.
”This will have to be thought about,” Infantino