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Sustainability key to EURO 2024 schedule

Environmental impact and fairness for each team were the priorities in determining the tournament match schedule.

Planning the match schedule for a tournament the size of UEFA EURO 2024 is always a fascinating challenge. First and foremost, each team must be treated equally, and when you consider that there are 24 playing in ten stadiums across 51 matches in a single month, you get an idea of the task at hand. Factor in travel, training and rest days, and the scale of the operation becomes clear.

For EURO 2024, the team behind the schedule had an additional element to consider – delivering an equal playing field in the most sustainable manner possible. "Ensuring fairness for all teams is always the number one driving principle behind the schedule," says Marcello Alleca, UEFA's head of men's national team competitions. "But this year, for the first time, sustainability was right at the top as well."

"Our challenge was to maximise sustainability without compromising fairness."

Marcello Alleca, UEFA head of men's national team competitions

Marcello Alleca, UEFA's head of men's national team competitions
Marcello Alleca, UEFA's head of men's national team competitions(Photo by Harold Cunningham - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Putting sustainability first

To make the schedule as sustainable as possible, venues and matches have been organised into three regionalised clusters, greatly reducing the amount of travel for teams and fans.

At EURO 2016 in France – comparable in terms of tournament size and country infrastructure – over 75% of team transfers to group stage matches were done by plane. In Germany that figure will drop to 25%, with train or bus transfers the preferred method of transport.

Eight years ago, no team played more than once in any single venue during the group stage. This summer, a total of seven teams – Austria, Czechia, Hungary, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland and Türkiye – will play more than one match in the same stadium.

These criteria also apply to hosts Germany, even though it means not always playing in the biggest stadiums. "Germany chose a team basecamp in the south of the country, to be close to the venues where they play their three group stage games," says Alleca.

The Football Arena Munich will host the opening EURO 2024 match between hosts Germany and Scotland
The Football Arena Munich will host the opening EURO 2024 match between hosts Germany and Scotland(Photo by Lukas Barth - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Planning ahead

"Developing the schedule is still a very manual process," explains Alleca. "There is no computer automation involved. Initially we start with a team of around ten people who all represent different interests that go into organising the schedule. Once we're happy with it, it goes out to host cities and a wider group for consultation." This happens well in advance of the tournament, with final approval of the schedule at least two years before the opening match.

This forward thinking helps Alleca's team ensure the all-important sporting fairness. "We write the schedule before we even know who the teams are; they're just Group A Team 1, Team 2," he explains. "We look at where they're going to play, and then what will happen to the group winners and runners-up – we look at all of their paths through the tournament and how we can be as fair as possible to all of them."

Fair and sustainable – the blueprint for a successful tournament.

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