The UEFA EURO 2016 steering group has held its latest meeting in Lille, one of the host cities for the final tournament in France in three years' time.
UEFA President Michel Platini was also given a tour of the northern French city's Grand Stade Lille Métropole – which was opened in August 2012 – one of the ten stadiums that will stage matches at UEFA EURO 2016, alongside the venues at Bordeaux, Lens, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris, Saint-Denis, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse. The tournament will be held in June and July 2016.
The steering group, which had its inaugural meeting in April 2011, comprises the key stakeholders in the organisation of the event: UEFA, the French Football Federation (FFF), the French government and the host cities. The body is chaired by Jacques Lambert, former CEO of the organising committee for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France and of the FFF. Regular information is being exchanged between these stakeholders, who also discuss and, if necessary, propose solutions to strategic organisational issues.
Michel Platini is also on the steering group, together with UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino, deputy UEFA General Secretary Theodore Theodoridis, UEFA Executive Committee members Borislav Mihaylov (Bulgaria) and Peter Gilliéron (Switzerland), FFF president Noël Le Graët, France's sports minister Valérie Fourneyron and host city representative Maurice Vincent.
"This morning we examined the state of progress of the ten stadiums ... and globally, we are advancing very well," said Mr Lambert. "We also discussed details about various issues, such as the search for team bases. We are working to maximise the social and economic consequences of this EURO tournament in France. Everything is moving forward in the best way."
"Preparations for EURO 2016 in France are proceeding in the right direction," Mr Platini said during his visit to Lille. "The construction and renovation of stadiums in France represents a fabulous legacy for the local economies. Today it is not possible to have major clubs or companies without a major stadium."
"France was considerably behind as far as stadiums were concerned," added Noël Le Graët. "I think that in the next two years, we will have partly made up for lost time. This EURO is a wonderful opportunity for France."
UEFA, which holds all the competition rights, and the FFF, which in particular is responsible for the safety and security of the event, have set up a joint venture, EURO 2016 SAS, to which they have delegated responsibility for the operational organisation of the finals. EURO 2016 SAS is a company under French law, with the legal form of a simplified joint stock company, owned 95% by UEFA and 5% by the FFF. Its registered head office is in Paris. Its expenses will be financed entirely by UEFA.
Valérie Fourneyron assured the organisers of full government support, and added: "We have been able to discover this fine stadium [in Lille] – the first new stadium to be built afresh. I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you of France's great pride in hosting this competition, and the mobilisation taking place at the highest state levels to ensure that we deliver the quality that our country is known for in staging major sports events."
The mayor of Lille, Martine Aubry, welcomed the steering group's meeting in the city and described UEFA EURO 2016 as "an extraordinary adventure". "EURO 2016 is a great opportunity for our country," she said. "France, and especially the French people, will derive benefit."
The UEFA EURO 2016 countdown:
26 June 2013: Tournament logo/branding unveiled
Autumn 2013: Host city logo launch
Beginning 2014: Qualifying competition draw in Nice
September 2014: Official mascots unveiled
September 2014: Qualifying competition kicks off
March 2015: Start of ticket sales
12 December 2015: Final tournament draw in Paris
March 2016: Finalists' workshop
10 June 2016: UEFA EURO 2016 kicks off
10 July 2016: UEFA EURO 2016 final
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