The staging of UEFA EURO 2020 across Europe promises to provide a memorable football festival throughout the continent – and give some countries and cities the potential opportunity to be part of a tournament they may otherwise not be able to host.
UEFA's Executive Committee decided in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 6 December 2012 to stage a "EURO for Europe" in 2020, rather than a tournament in one or two host countries. The move follows an initial idea revealed by UEFA President Michel Platini at the end of UEFA EURO 2012. The Executive Committee also took its decision in the wake of positive feedback from its member national associations as part of a consultation process which took place in recent months.
Then, on 25 January 2013, the Executive Committee decided that the UEFA EURO 2020 final round will be staged in 13 cities around Europe, and approved the key event and football principles for the "EURO for Europe", which include:
• The matches will be split into 13 different packages, with 12 ordinary packages including three group matches and one knockout round game (round of 16 or quarter-final) apiece, and one package for the semi-finals and the final;
• There will be a maximum of one venue per country, meaning one stadium for each of the available 13 packages. Both semi-finals and the final will be played in one stadium; and
• Every national association will be allowed to present up to two bids, one for the ordinary package and one for the semi-finals/final package. Association can decide to present the same city for their two bids or two different cities.
Projected stadiums will be admitted in the bidding process, with a deadline of 2016 for the construction of any new stadium to start, failing which the decision on such a host city could be reviewed. The required minimum net stadiums capacities should be:
• 70,000 for semi-finals/final;
• 60,000 for quarter-finals;
• 50,000 for round of 16 and group matches; and
• Up to two exceptions would be made for stadiums of a net minimum capacity of 30,000 seats, limited to group fixtures and a round of 16 game.
All teams will participate in the qualifying competition and the 13 countries staging matches will therefore not be automatically qualified. A maximum of two host teams would be drawn into each of the six final tournament groups, with every qualified host being guaranteed two home games in the group phase. There would not be any such guarantee for the knockout stages.
For the group stage, the group composition would remain subject to seeding and to a draw. However, the allocation of hosting teams to groups would also take travel distances into account (for example, and where feasible, flights would not exceed two hours' duration between host cities to allow easy access to travelling fans).
The timeline for the bidding process has been approved by UEFA's Executive Committee:
• 28 March 2013: Approval of the bidding requirements and bid regulations
• April 2013: Publication of the bid requirements and launch of the bidding phase
• September 2013: Formal confirmation of their bid by the candidates
• April/May 2014: Submission of bid dossiers and start of the evaluation phase
• September 2014: Appointment of the host cities by the UEFA Executive Committee
UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino said a number of reflections had led to the Executive Committee's decision in Lausanne in December 2012. "Let me say it is a decision only about 2020," he emphasised. "2020 is the 60th anniversary of the European Football Championship. Obviously the fact that the EURO will feature 24 teams instead of 16 puts an additional burden on countries hosting such an event. It becomes much more difficult for many countries – the requirements are becoming bigger and bigger.
"An opportunity like this, to give many cities and many countries the possibility to host even just one part of a EURO, is certainly an excellent thing, especially in times when you have an economic situation where you cannot expect countries to invest in the facilities such an event requires. Certainly one of the purposes of this decision is to help countries who are perhaps not sure today whether they should build a national stadium – giving them the impetus to build such a stadium. Instead of having a party in one country, we will have a party all over Europe in 2020."
At the XXXVII Ordinary UEFA Congress in London in May 2013, UEFA President Michel Platini, the initiator of the idea, expressed great anticipation for UEFA EURO 2020. "In 2020, the EURO will never have better lived up to its name," he said. "It will be decidedly continental and profoundly European. It will be a EURO of unity and shared experiences. It will, of course, be a new challenge – a challenge of a new kind … [and with] one single language: football."
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