"To give many cities and countries the possibility to host even just one part of a EURO is an excellent thing," UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino said of the 2020 decision.
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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 that they may otherwise not be able to host.
UEFA's Executive Committee decided in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday to stage a "EURO for Europe" in eight years' time, 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 this summer. 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.
"As far as the bidding process is concerned," said UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino, "this will be determined in the next couple of months by the UEFA National Team Competitions Committee, and then presented to the Executive Committee for ratification, most probably at its meeting in March 2013. It is premature to go into more details. What is clear is that it will not be in one or two countries, but in several cities in Europe. How many cities is still to be decided."
After the bidding process has been clarified, it is expected that decisions regarding the host cities will be made as early as spring 2014.
Mr Infantino said that a number of reflections had led to the Executive Committee's decision. "Let me say that 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 [final round] will feature 24 teams instead of 16 puts an additional burden on countries to host such an event. It becomes much more difficult for many countries – the requirements are becoming bigger and bigger.
"This summer we saw a fantastic EURO in Poland and Ukraine, but the governments and the two countries had to do quite a lot in terms of infrastructure, airports and stadiums. 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 facilities in the way that 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 the summer of 2020."