Euro 2020 plans not quite as crazy as they sound
Published: 18.12.12 / Written by: David Gold
UEFA have made waves with their plans for a Euro 2020 tournament to be hosted across Europe.
The idea has been mooted since last year when Michel Platini discussed it at Euro 2012. Now the plan has gone public, with 52 out of 53 nations supportive.
The one which is not in favour is Turkey. Turkey are also the only nation with both a realistic ability to host the tournament, and a stated desire to do so. Yet Turkey are bidding to host the 2020 Olympic Games, and neither UEFA or the International Olympic Committee will countenance the country having both tournaments. It is one or the other. As far as the government is concerned, it appears that the Olympics take priority, and so the Euro bid seems doomed unless Istanbul is beaten in the Olympic race.
This is what has pushed Platini to his latest idea. Turkey had been beaten narrowly in the race to host Euro 2016 by his native France, by a single vote. Platini hoped Turkey would take on Euro 2020, as a nation which has not hosted the tournament before, and unlike many on the continent is not afflicted by monstrous debt. With the potential to leave a demonstrable legacy, a genuine football culture and the attraction of hosting the tournament in a new part of the continent, Turkey was ideal.
Yet the Olympic bid means they have to look elsewhere. England? Unlikely. Still scarred by their 2018 World Cup bid humbling, England is busy rebuilding bridges they have spent years burning across the continent, and that still have not been restored after they went back on a gentlemanís agreement not to take on Germany for the 2006 World Cup. What about Germany? They have said that they are not interested in the tournament. Italy? Ravaged by debt which caused them to abandon plans to bid for the Olympics in Rome. Greece? Donít go there. Spain? Unlike Turkey they had the wisdom not to bid for the Olympics and Euros at the same time, and have thrown their weight behind Madridís 2020 bid for the former. If their bid fails, Spain could be a real possibility for the Euros. Russia? They have the World Cup in 2018, and so the complexity of planning for a second major football tournament at the same time would be problematic, although if any country could deal with both at the same time, it is Russia. France have Euro 2016, Holland only recently hosted a European Championship and that leaves UEFA without credible candidates to host a major 24 team tournament.
The multi country idea therefore has some plausibility. It would give lots of nations without the political or financial will to host it alone the chance to stage one or two games. London, Madrid, Berlin, Munich, Rome, Paris and Moscow could all be involved. You could have quarter finals one day in Athens and Kiev, and another day in Lisbon and Glasgow.
The only nation not enthusiastic about this is Turkey, as they would miss out completely if Istanbul hosts the Olympics. The legacy would be limited, as most stadiums would not need renovation, but that could be ideal for a Europe short on money. But then smaller nations would have a unique chance to host matches in a major tournament, which would do wonders for their tourist industries. And the distances would not be that big an issue. Some of the distances teams will travel during the Brazil World Cup will be longer than a trip from Moscow to London, for example. Russia and Brazil are both hosting World Cups which are on a continental scale in effect. The Euros would not be a unique challenge in this way, and there is no reason they could not be a success.
So strange as it may sound, and bizarre as it certainly would be, Euro 2020 could be coming to a city near all of us. It would be a unique event, and crazy as it sounds, it might just work.