UEFA launches 'Euro for Europe'

UEFA backs Platini's idea of a Euro 2020 hosted across Europe. Photo: UEFA president Platini speaking at the Council of Europe/Jacques Denier

07.12.2012

By Stine Alvad
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the UEFA European Championship, the tournament in 2020 will be spread over several major European cities. The decision is overall welcomed but fans fear the lack of cohesiveness.

At the executive meeting held Thursday in Lausanne, UEFA decided to go forward with UEFA president Michel Platini’s idea of a 2020 Euro cup that is spread out over the European continent.

"Some important decisions have been taken," said UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, at a press conference following the executive committee meeting.

“UEFA Euro 2020 will be staged across the continent, in various major cities, following a decision taken today. A Euro for Europe follows an initial idea by UEFA president Michel Platini. The response has been extremely positive from all the national associations.”

Only the Turkish member of the European football body's executive committee voted against the decision, which comes as no big surprise since Turkey has intended to bid for the 2020 EURO Cup.

The exact number of countries and cities involved will be decided on at a later stage.

Positive welcome
German journalist and football expert Jens Weinreich welcomes the decision in a comment in German news magazine Der Spiegel.

According to Weinreich, the Euro Cup 2004 in Portugal and the 2004 Summer Games in Athens are examples of sports events that left the host countries with large national debts, he writes and refers to the World Stadium Index elaborated by the Danish Institute for Sports Studies in 2011. The Index analyzes the after-use of stadiums built for mega-events, and according to the report Portugal and the country’s staging of the EURO 2004 ranks in bottom.

Spreading out a tournament like in the EURO 2020, leaves hope that host countries will come out of the event on a positive note and that less stadia will stand scarcely used after the event, writes Weinreich.

Analyst Jens Alm from the Danish Institute for Sports Studies, who is behind the World Stadium Index shares Weinreich’s views.

“Seen from a stadium legacy perspective, the decision from UEFA’s Executive Committee to stage the tournament across more countries on the European continent could be a big step in the right direction. Most likely it will result in the building of fewer oversized and underused ‘white elephants’ that become financial burdens for the host cities and their citizens. This is a positive change, especially if it is not going to be a one-off experiment as indicated by UEFA,” Alm says.

“There are however also certain challenges that need to be addressed like the risk of losing a true tournament atmosphere as feared by some fan groups. This is especially a challenge if the distances between the venues become very big." 

Supporter doubts
According to UEFA, the national federations have welcomed the decision, but fan groups are now voicing their disappointment and doubts about spreading out the tournament.

In an editorial on goal.com, Julian Bennetts acknowledges Platini’s idea for the economic benefits for host countries but thinks that “it does forget one important group of people – the fans.”

“Platini was asked, in that press conference on the eve of the final of Euro 2020, how he thought an England supporter could afford to go from London to Munich, up to Copenhagen and then on to Lisbon.

“As you know, there are budget airlines,” shrugged the Frenchman,“ writes Bennetts in his comment piece and continues:

“The airlines will inflate prices, the punters will pay, and the fans will have lost out – again.”

UEFA realizes the inconveniences that fans could meet travelling country to country to support their team and has been meeting with European fan groups to discuss the subject.

“UEFA are aware of the issues and they did stress to us that it's a one-off," said Kevin Miles, the Football Supporters' Federation director of international affairs according to the Guardian.

The bidding process for the host cities is due to start in March next year, Infantino informed at the press conference where he also presented UEFA’s decision to prohibit third-party ownership of football players. At the same meeting UEFA expressed its support for the introduction of sporting fraud as a criminal offence in national legislations throughout Europe.

More information:
World Stadium Index

UEFA press release

Jens Weinreich in Der Spiegel

Editorial at www.goal.com

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