It's England v Germany in two-horse race to host semi-finals and final of Euro 2020
Sunday 27 April 2014
Their rivalry on the pitch is the stuff of legend. As of today, England and Germany have a new battle on their hands as they go head to head for the right to stage the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020.
Uefa announced yesterday that the two countries were the only candidates to have put forward cities – London (Wembley) and Munich (Allianz Arena) – to host the prestigious latter stages of the one-off pan-European finals to mark the 60th anniversary of the competition.
The next five months promise to be full of strategic twists and turns in the build-up to 19 September in Geneva, when the Football Association hope to convince Uefa's executive committee that, having missed out so humiliatingly on hosting the 2018 World Cup, the time would be right to bring football home again for the first time since Euro 1996.
Since the completion of its redevelopment in 2007, Wembley now holds 90,000 compared with 71,137 at Allianz Arena, home of European champions Bayern Munich, but the Germans will argue that they have not held the Euros since 1988.
The tournament will be held in 13 countries around the continent, 12 of which will each stage three group matches plus a match from the round of 16 or quarter-finals while the 13th will stage the two semi-finals plus final.
"We are bidding for either of the two packages available and with our recent experience of hosting two Uefa Champions League finals in the last four years we believe that Wembley Stadium and London represent a strong bid for Uefa to consider to mark the tournament's 60th anniversary," said FA general secretary Alex Horne. If they fail to win the vote for the showpiece latter stages – England's footballers have invariably failed against the Germans with one or two exceptions, notably 1966 and the 5-1 triumph in Munich 13 years ago – barring an unexpected downturn in their relationship with Uefa's top brass, the FA can at least therefore expect Wembley to join the party earlier on.
The tournament is the brainchild of Uefa president Michel Platini who proposed the innovative hosting plan on the eve of the Euro 2012 final in Kiev. With 24 teams in the finals as of 2016, only a handful of countries these days can afford to stage the event on their own or have the required infrastructure.
Platini's idea is to limit the burden of travel distances for fans who want to follow the 51-match tournament, with the group stage set to be divided into geographical zones. Uefa confirmed that 19 cities had made formal bids by Friday's midnight deadline, all but two of them for the so-called standard packages.
They include Scotland (Glasgow), Wales (Cardiff) and the Republic of Ireland (Dublin) though at least one of these seem certain to fail as Uefa attempt to give as many new regions as possible a chance. Azerbaijan, Belarus, Israel and Macedonia are among bidders who have never hosted a major tournament.
Only one venue per city can be used. Importantly, berths will not automatically be awarded to the national teams of selected host cities. In other words, everyone has to qualify. Initially, 32 associations had expressed an interest in hosting but in the days leading up to Friday's deadline, 13 had pulled out. Nevertheless, Platini, who insists the multinational format will not be repeated after 2020, declared himself satisfied with the uptake.
"We are extremely happy to have received so many bids," said Platini. "The 60th year anniversary edition of the tournament will be an historic one, with matches played in many European countries. By spreading the Euro across our continent, we will allow more fans from more nations to share in the excitement of hosting such a magical event."
By far the most surprising absentee from the list of candidates is Istanbul, long considered the favourite after being endorsed by Platini. Clearly playing a strategic game, the Turks, who lost out by one vote for Euro 2016, withdrew on deadline day in order to target hosting Euro 2024 alone, leaving England and Germany solely in the running for the semi-finals and final.
Apart from England and Germany, who each submitted bids for two separate packages, the full list of those who had sent dossiers before the deadline is: Azerbaijan (Baku), Belarus (Minsk), Belgium (Brussels), Bulgaria (Sofia), Denmark (Copenhagen), England (London), Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Skopje), Germany (Munich), Hungary (Budapest), Israel (Jerusalem), Italy (Rome), Holland (Amsterdam), Republic of Ireland (Dublin), Romania (Bucharest), Russia (St Petersburg), Scotland (Glasgow), Spain (Bilbao), Sweden (Stockholm), Wales (Cardiff).
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