It is worth remembering why Uefa has found itself with a European Championship in 2020 that will be hosted across the continent. It may try to present it as a ground-breaking, inclusive idea but it was born of just another cock-up.
Euro 2020 had long been earmarked for Turkey to the extent that Uefa’s president, Michel Platini, had backed the country to host it on the proviso that it did not bid for the Olympic Games of the same year. When Turkey did so, Platini was left high and dry and floated his “pan-European” idea in Kiev towards the end of Euro 2012. “The biggest party in Europe” was how Uefa’s general secretary, Gianni Infantino, described the Uefa executive committee’s decision to run with the concept today.
When the issue of cost for supporters travelling to the tournament was put to Platini in Kiev, he dismissed it with “there are budget airlines these days”, as if he has ever been on one. In fact, some of the arguments being advanced for the Euro 2020 concept are that at least the flight will not be as long as those between host cities in Poland and Ukraine this summer – as if that is an excuse.
The problem is that attending international tournaments, even those in Europe, is starting to be as grandiose and expensive as attending the America’s Cup. How can a pan-European championship even be called a tournament when it lacks the flavour of one or two host nations?
Instead, it will be played out for the benefit of a television audience with a political compromise into the bargain. The tired argument against single-host tournaments is that they require nations to invest in new stadiums that are under-used afterwards. Yet Platini has some of the most sophisticated football countries in the world at his disposal.
There are plenty of capable single-host nations. For reasons best known to himself he chooses to spread it out and increase the cost for the ordinary fan.