Friday Football Feature: Will EURO 2020 across European cities be successful?


The announcement has been met with a mixed reaction from football officials, pundits, players and fans.


By Luke Gardener

With the controversial announcement by UEFA that EURO 2020 will be held across Europe rather than in one or two countries there has been a mixed reaction from football officials, pundits, players and fans.

The announcement will see the expanded 24-team format travel around Europe throughout the tournament with fans having to spend a fortune if they want to follow the progress of their country. It seems that UEFA President Michel Platini does not see this as an issue though and remains confident the tournament will be a success.

FA chief executive Mark Palios believes the downside is fans having to travel in terms of getting the opportunity to follow their team and knowing where they will be based. He hopes UEFA can plan something which takes this into account although he does accept the concept gives every country a chance to host international football, not just the usual suspects.

The EURO 2020 idea has stemmed from the fact Turkey, who were strongly tipped to host the tournament, applied for the Olympic Games in the same year and thus relinquished the opportunity to host the football extravaganza.

UEFA believe with the ongoing recession and the economic situation across Europe, countries not having to build and maintain new stadiums will mean the format will be more financially viable. Platini also feels that minority countries will have more of an opportunity to hold key matches throughout the tournament.

From England’s perspective Wembley will be a front runner to host the final alongside other stadiums in Spain, Italy and Germany. The fact that Wembley hosted the Champions League final the season before last and is doing so again this season should stand them in good stead with any bid to be considered by UEFA.

One of the pivotal issues in regards to various cities across Europe hosting matches is to do with the price of air travel. Fans often travel to away matches in Europe to support their clubs and note that flight prices increase as soon as the draw is made for the relevant dates. They believe there will be similar problems surrounding EURO 2020.

Alternatively, former England midfielder Owen Hargreaves believes Europe is an easily accessible place with most flights taking just a couple of hours.

Perhaps a solution to the controversy is to hold one out of every three European Championships across the continent and the other two in a single country. This would ensure small countries like Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland would have the opportunity to host matches every 12 years.

Jonathan Ford, chief executive for the Welsh FA noted the proximity of Manchester, Cardiff, Belfast and Dublin is closer than getting from one end of the Ukraine to the other. He believes the idea of a group hub in one localised area would enhance the experience for fans.

Whatever happens EURO 2020 is sure to be discussed for the next eight years leading up to the tournament and the success of the proposed plans can only be properly analysed following it. With countries starting to bid to host matches from early next year and the successful bids set to be announced in spring 2014 the controversy will remain.

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