UEFA Euro 2020 bids

Bids for Euro 2020 due today; tournament to be held all across Europe

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National federations from across UEFA’s 54 full-member countries had until Thursday to confirm their individual candidate cities to host matches in Euro 2020. Europe’s governing body will select 13 cities to host the tournament all across the continent in a departure from the traditional single-nation hosting system.

The UEFA Executive Committee is set to announce candidate cities on Sept. 20, and those cities have until April 25, 2014, to submit dossiers on their hosting capabilities. UEFA confirmed the tournament format and requirements for host stadiums in January.

Some highlights: Only one venue per country, each of which will host three group matches as a round of 16 or quarterfinal game; the semifinals and final will be played in the same stadium; none of the host nations will qualify for the tournament automatically; every qualified host is guaranteed two home games in the group phase; and the teams are free to set up base camp anywhere they like, with no obligation to stay in a country in which they play.

(MORE: Big Euro! Confederation championship to span continent in 2020)

To this point, 33 nations have either confirmed their bids or expressed interests. Such jewels of European soccer as the Allianz Arena in Munich, Amsterdam ArenA in the Netherlands, Old Trafford and Wembley Stadium in England and the San Siro and Stadio Olimpico in Italy have come up in discussions.

2018 FIFA World Cup host Russia has FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s support, and it declared Thursday that it would propose a to-be-constructed 69,000-seat stadium in St. Petersburg, which is set to host a semifinal at the World Cup. Blatter said the country will have all the necessary infrastructure, so hosting the World Cup should only help in its bid.

The semifinal and final venue may already be set, with UEFA president Michel Platini reportedly promising the last three games of the tournament to Turkey. In recent days, Istanbul lost to Tokyo in its bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. The German and English federations seem ready to drop their final bids to allow Platini to keep his word.

Big Euro! Confederation championship to span continent in 2020

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And the host nation for Euro 2020 is … nobody. And everybody, conceivably.

We still won’t know for potentially a year and a half which cities will host matches in the newly announced pan-Europe championship. All we know is the practice of awarding the tournament to a host nation (or nations) will be done away with for at least one tournament.

UEFA confirmed the executive committee’s Thursday decision:

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino told a press conference after the meeting: “Some important decisions have been taken.

“UEFA Euro 2020 will be staged across the continent, in various major cities, following a decision taken today. A Euro for Europe follows an initial idea by UEFA president Michel Platini. The response has been extremely positive from all the national associations.”

The news met with the typical winging and moaning from social media, but what do you expect? No decision is ever a good one, yet the games always managed to get played. Funny that.

Cities can start bidding for hosting rights in March 2013, with decisions to be announced a year later. Other format and venue fun is still to be determined, though you won’t be surprised to learn England’s Football Association has already suggested Wembley Stadium host the final.

Until we get more details (two years from now), it’s hard to get too upset or happy about anything. If the tournament decides to stage every match in a different city, that would be a bit insane (particularly given the competition will have 24 teams starting in 2016). But for all we know, we could get six sub-regions for group stage (allowing teams to have steady camps during the opening round) before the real travel begins for the knockout round.

The big benefit to this type of format: Smaller nations with little change of hosting the tournament can not get games without creating an alliance with another country in the hopes of winning hosting rights. Now we might get matches in places like Stockholm, Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Bucharest, and Prague.

Which doesn’t sound that bad.