Thursday 23 November 2017

Platini ponders 2020 vision for multi-host tournament

UEFA President Michel Platini
UEFA President Michel Platini

Simon Stone

UEFA president Michel Platini has dropped a bombshell by claiming Euro 2020 could be held in up to 32 cities across Europe.

Turkey had been favourites to host the event but doubt has been placed over their ability to stage it due to their ongoing bid for Istanbul to host the Olympic Games in the same year.

It would be impractical to host both, so UEFA are having to look at alternatives. Platini insists there are other options -- a joint bid between Scotland, Wales and Ireland has been mentioned -- but the controversial Frenchman has raised the potential for a far more radical solution.

"The Euros in 2020 could be held all over Europe," said Platini. "We are just thinking about it. I have said 12 or 13 host cities, it could be 24 or 32."

The reasoning behind what seems, on the face of it, to be a rather bizarre plan, is to save the cost involved of building stadiums and airports. However, unless the 'tournament' was going to be played in cities already used to holding big matches, that expense would still be required.

The details are very sketchy. However, speaking in Kiev yesterday, Platini seemed enthused by the prospect. "It is a great debate," he said. "It would be four games per venue and everyone has the possibility to host it."

The logistical issue of supporters travelling to random venues all over Europe did not seem to be a problem in Platini's mind, even if the example he used had very little to do with the present tournament, being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

"It is easier to go from London to Paris or Berlin than Cardiff to Gdansk," he said. "Turkey going for the Olympics creates a problem for us and we are not going to wait until we know whether they are going to get them."

Quite how much support Platini's plan would have is difficult to gauge at this stage. However, he vowed a final decision would be taken in "January or February".

By 2020, the Euros will be a 24-team competition. The expansion takes effect in France four years from now and seems to bloat a competition that has worked perfectly well over the past three weeks.

"We had three World Cups with 24 teams, so I don't see that as a problem," Platini said. "If you consider Norway, Serbia, Belgium and Scotland, plus some others, we have enough good teams for a 24-team competition."

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