UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin joins football fans everywhere in heralding the kick-off of UEFA EURO 2020 – "the pinnacle of the European national team football calendar" – with the qualifying round draw in Dublin.
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So the voyage to UEFA EURO 2020 begins in Dublin as the 55 participating teams learn their destinations – and soon their destiny – for the upcoming European Qualifiers competition.
Challenges on the field will be matched by preparations for celebrations off it, as UEFA embarks on what will be the largest European Football Championship in the history of the competition.
Unique in so many ways, Europe is both the host and the winner of this EURO. Twelve host cities – north, south, east and west – will stage the finals from 12 June to 12 July 2020, beginning in Rome and ending in London, featuring 51 matches, 24 teams and eight capital cities across our continent. It is a fitting tribute to the 60th anniversary of this wonderful competition, the pinnacle of the European national team football calendar.
It will be unique for many fans, too, as several of our national associations are taking the opportunity to host their EURO party for the first time on home soil – staging the festivities in big cities and big venues where they can bring their own local, distinctive flavour to the tournament.
United, both as organisers and hosts, we strive for this to be a genuine football festival for all fans across the four corners of our diverse and beautiful continent.
Our journey starts in the west, in the Republic of Ireland. The hosts of the UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying round draw were also one of the 17 founders of the European Nations’ Cup all those years ago. Dalymount Park hosted the first leg of what was the only preliminary round tie in that competition, with the Republic of Ireland winning 2-0 against Czechoslovakia.
Although they would succumb to a 4-0 reverse in the return leg, it is fitting that one legacy of UEFA EURO 2020 will be the complete renovation of this north Dublin venue, the traditional home of international football in the country.
This article appears in the UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifying Round Draw Official Magazine