Monday 23 April 2018

'Euro 2020 will lack lack soul': Sepp Blatter slams UEFA plans for continent-wide competition

FIFA President Sepp Blatter
FIFA President Sepp Blatter

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has criticised UEFA's decision to stage Euro 2020 across the continent, saying the "heart and soul" would be ripped out of the tournament.

European football's governing body announced in December that it had taken the unprecedented step of hosting the event in several cities throughout Europe.

In an interview with German sports publication Kicker, Blatter revealed a similar idea had been proposed to him for the 2010 World Cup by former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, but he discarded it as "unthinkable", with South Africa granted sole hosting rights.

Blatter is surprised that UEFA president Michel Platini has presided over the adoption of such a format for 2020, and has accused the governing body of "wasting" the tournament.

"A tournament belongs in one country," Blatter said. "That way, you create identity and euphoria. Like, for example, the 'summer fairytale' in Germany [the 2006 World Cup].

"The 2020 tournament has been wasted; it's no longer a European Championships. It has got to be referred to as something else, only I don't know what.

"A European Championships like this lacks a heart and soul.

"I told Michel Platini that the former Libyan head of state Colonel Gaddafi had spoken to me when the 2010 World Cup was awarded about the event taking place in 53 countries of Africa, with the final taking place in South Africa.

"He believed in that idea, and I told him it was unthinkable. So I told Platini, his idea is not novel."

Platini is one of the candidates to replace Blatter as FIFA president, and the Swiss admitted that could well happen in 2015.

"When it is certain that FIFA will continue to be run the way it is now, remaining global, and that the pyramid will not collapse, then I would be happy to pass the baton onto a new president in 2015," he said.

"He (Platini) has his ideas for the future of FIFA which he wants to explain to the other continents, but he has not yet made up his mind."

Uncertainty therefore continues over Blatter's own future, and he has not ruled out standing for re-election once again.

"What can you rule out if you don't even know what the future will bring?" he said.

Press Association

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