By Jonathan Rest
Thirty two member associations of Uefa, European soccer's governing body, have submitted bids to host matches at the 2020 European Championships, a tournament that is to be held in cities spread across the continent for the first time.
Uefa, which has 54 members, will select 13 cities from the 39 put forward by the national soccer associations before yesterday's deadline to host the matches. One city will stage both semi-finals and the final.
There are 12 standard packages on offer, comprising three group matches and one knockout round (round of 16 or quarter-finals).
As reported by Sportcal last week, the Turkish Football Federation did submit a bid for Istanbul to host the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020.
Turkey is regarded as the favourite to be awarded the showpiece matches at Euro 2020, largely because Uefa president Michel Platini has previously indicated that he would support its bid, so long as Istanbul was not selected as host city for the 2020 Olympic Games. It lost that race, to Tokyo, on September 7.
Turkey lost out narrowly to Platini’s home country France in the race to stage Euro 2016 and the Uefa president was said to be supportive of the defeated nation’s planned bid to host the entire tournament before the multi-host concept was devised last year.
Several of Europe's major cities are on the long list, including London, Munich, Madrid, Rome and Amsterdam, but also included are cities from countries that would struggle to stage a full European Championships.
The national associations of Spain, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Ukraine each put forward more than one city.
Speaking from Dubrovnik, Croatia today, where the Uefa executive committee meeting has been taking place, Platini said: "I think [32 bids] is an excellent piece of news. It shows the idea was a good one. It is an important asset for a country not to have to build eight stadia to stage a tournament, only one.
"We need to look at the different proposals between now and April, and we will probably not have 32 options by then. It is a great opportunity for some cities to participate at least once in their lifetimes."
Each of the 32 associations is allowed to present up to two bids, one for the standard package and one for the semi-finals/final package. Each national association can decide to present the same city, or two different cities, for these two bids, but there will be a maximum of one venue appointed per country.
The candidates have the right to change their initial host city selection, but must submit their final bid dossier by April 25, 2014.
England's Football Association has said that it would still be interested in staging the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 at Wembley Stadium even though it was reported to have accepted that Istanbul's Ataturk Olympic Stadium is the favourite.
FA general secretary Alex Horne said: "We would be delighted for London and Wembley Stadium to be chosen to host either of the two packages available and we look forward to working with Uefa on the forthcoming selection process. It would be great to see England playing in front of their home fans here in England as part of a Euro finals tournament, but many countries have also put themselves forward as hosts and we expect this to be a very competitive bidding process."
The 13 host cities for Euro 2020 will be announced on September 25 of next year.
|Candidates to host matches at Euro 2020|
|Republic of Ireland ||Dublin|
|Spain||Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid, Valencia|