Italy are firm favourites to win today's vote to be the hosts of Euro 2012 despite some disquiet over the state of the game in the country.
Last season's referee corruption scandal and the on-going struggles with crowd trouble have been big hurdles for the Italian FA to overcome. By focusing their bid for the European Championships as an opportunity for a fresh start, however, the Italians look to have done enough to convince Uefa's executive committee to vote for them ahead of joints bids from Croatia-Hungary and Poland-Ukraine.
The vote is taking place this morning in Cardiff's City Hall, for no reason other than the Welsh city had been the venue for one of Uefa's regular executive committee meetings. The biggest factor aiding Italy is that Uefa are falling out of love with the concept of joint hosts despite Euro 2000 being in Holland and Belgium and next year's championships being hosted by Austria and Switzerland.
One senior Uefa source said: "There are extra problems to deal with when there are joint hosts - two FAs, two governments and two sets of security forces."
Italy also boast the best infrastructure despite Poland and Ukraine making extravagant promises about building new stadia and transforming the footballing landscape of their countries. They are hampered by the sheer size of their countries, a lack of unity during the bid, and the fact that the Polish government have been hauled over the coals by Fifa and Uefa for political interference in the running of the country's football federation.
Croatia and Hungary should have had high hopes because Hungary came an impressive second in the race for 2008 but neither country has a political heavyweight to garner support among the 12 members of Uefa's executive committee who will vote today. Furthermore, football in Hungary has become so becalmed in the doldrums that there are doubts about the appetite for holding such a tournament in the country.
The Balkan bid can only hope that they will gain support from new Uefa president Michel Platini's expressed desire to spread the benefits of European football throughout all the 53 member countries.Reuse content