Euro 2020 tournament to be shared across austerity Europe
Decision leaves door open to a Wembley final – but Michel Platini is accused of desperate fudge
UEFA has confirmed that the 2020 European Championship will be staged across the continent, an unprecedented move that could have implications for British football. The move was first mooted in June, and yesterday Michel Platini, Uefa president, confirmed that for the first time the tournament will be nomadic with group matches staged across Europe, although the semi-finals and final will be played in the same city – though not necessarily the same venue.
The Guardian broadly welcomes the idea, saying the decision leaves "the door open for a potential final at Wembley" as well as the possibility of group matches in Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.
The Football Association has already proposed Wembley as a suitable venue for the final, and the Emirates Stadium and the Olympic Stadium could be considered as possible semi-final venues.
"Clearly Wembley is incredibly highly thought of by Uefa and it is something we will push for," said David Bernstein, the FA chairman. "Uefa want to hold the semi-finals and the final on the same ground, or in the same city and I think we would be on their shortlist – but there would be some strong competition."
The bidding process began in March and the final decision on the venues will be announced twelve months later. The Guardian reports that the thinking behind Uefa's decision lies in the economic uncertainty facing so many European countries; Michel Platini doesn't want to "burden" a country with the responsibility of hosting a tournament it might not be able to afford.
Among the nations thought to be interested in hosting matches are Georgia, Azerbaijan and Scotland. "As something different and innovative, it does carry a lot of merit," explained Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan. "We would be interested in the final but we first have to find out Uefa's minimum criteria for capacity – if they are looking for stadiums with greater capacity then of course we would be interested in hosting group matches."
The Welsh FA, too, have expressed a tentative interest in playing their part, said Jonathan Ford, their chief executive. "This rules us very much in. We now have to see how this can work on a logistical basis. If we are part of a hub including Glasgow, Dublin and an English city this could be very exciting."
Not everyone is impressed with the idea. Writing in the Daily Mail, Martin Samuel says Platini's grand plan "was the act of a desperate man". He alleges that originally Uefa wanted to award the 2020 Euros to Turkey, only to discover Turkey was more interested in hosting that year's Olympics, which they are tipped to get. As a result, the idea is "a fudge, a face-saving exercise for a clown who is on the brink of ruining what many regarded as the greatest football tournament."