European Championship: Uefa to hold 2020 finals across continent

 

The 2020 European Championship finals will be held in a number of cities across Europe, Uefa has announced.

It is a change from the usual format, which involved either one or two countries hosting the tournament every four years.

The Football Association has already put forward Wembley as a possible venue for the final.

Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland have also expressed their interest to Uefa about staging matches.

Jonathan Ford, chief executive of the FA of Wales, has previously said his country would want Cardiff to be a "host city".

"When the inevitable outcry has died down, this is maybe not such a bad idea. A 'Euros for Europe', as Uefa president Michel Platini put it, would take the pressure off hosts to deliver 10 or maybe more stadiums capable of hosting big international games.

Following Thursday's announcement by European football's governing body, Ford said the plan was a "fantastic idea" but stressed fans should not have to travel long distances at great expense.

"The idea of hub areas should be very seriously considered," he said. "We don't want fans going from east to west.

"The proximity of say Manchester, Cardiff, Belfast and Dublin is even closer than one end of Ukraine to the other. There's many a situation I can see where you can have group hubs to make it a great fan experience."

A spokesperson for the Football Supporters' Federation said the move was "one which will divide fans".

"When the idea of a pan-European tournament was first proposed our primary concern was that supporters across the continent were properly consulted before anything was set in stone," added the spokesperson.

"The FSF will speak to Football Supporters Europe to see what fans from across the continent make of this move."

Uefa's executive committee took the decision at a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday.

Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino told a press conference: "Some important decisions have been taken.

European Championship history

  • First event in 1960 had four teams in the finals - 17 entered
  • Format of a four-team finals continued until 1976
  • Competition was expanded to eight teams in 1980
  • In 1996, when the tournament was held in England, 16 teams took part
  • The 2000 finals were the first to be hosted by two countries - Netherlands and Belgium
  • The 2016 finals will be hosted by France with 24 teams to participate
  • Winners are presented with the Henri Delaunay Trophy, named in honour of the first general secretary of Uefa, whose brainchild the European Championship was

"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, who described it as 'an idea I feel really passionate about'.

"The response has been extremely positive from all the national associations."

Infantino confirmed that only Turkey, who had had initially bid to host Euro 2020, opposed the decision.

The next European Championship will be staged by France in 2016 and will feature 24 qualifiers, up from 16 in 2012.

Infantino added the bidding process for the host cities would start in March and decisions would be made in the spring of 2014.

Platini, who won the tournament in 1984 with France, says his plan will mean countries avoiding high costs at a time of financial hardship.

Higher than expected costs and building delays caused problems for Euro 2012, which was held jointly by Poland and Ukraine.

"It will be a lot easier from a financial perspective for all the countries," Platini said in June.

"If you need to build airports or 10 stadiums in a country, this would be rather easy because it would be one stadium per host city."

Former FA chief executive Mark Palios told BBC Radio 5 live: "The big downside is fans' travel, both in terms of getting the opportunity to follow your team and knowing where you're going to be based.

"Hopefully they can plan something which takes that into account. Otherwise it's a sensible suggestion by Uefa. It gives everybody a chance to share in it rather than just the larger countries."