When the Europe’s biggest football event kicks off in 2020, Copenhagen could be one of the cities that hosts matches.
The European football governing body, UEFA, decided on Thursday that Euro 2020 will be hosted by the whole of Europe. The project, called a ‘Pan-European’ football event, is a one-off and UEFA expects the tournament to return to its regular hosting format in 2024.
Michel Platini, the former French midfield ace and current UEFA president, said that the hosting change would help celebrate the 60-year anniversary of the European Championship, while helping European countries that are struggling through the financial crisis. This ideology was backed up by UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino.
“This summer we saw a fantastic EURO in Poland and Ukraine, but the governments and the two countries had to do quite a lot in terms of infrastructure, airports and stadiums,” Infantino wrote on UEFA’s website. “An opportunity like this, to give many cities and many countries the possibility to host even just one part of a EURO, is certainly an excellent thing, especially in times when you have an economic situation in which you cannot expect countries to invest in facilities in the way that such an event requires. Instead of having a party in one country, we will have a party all over Europe in the summer of 2020.”
Platini’s plan was praised throughout the European football sphere, aside from a few corners. Turkey and Azerbaijan, who had already made bids to host the tournament, were detractors, while the Celtic nations, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, had also expressed an interest in co-hosting the tournament together.
The Danish national football association, DBU, is firmly behind the idea.
“Within the DBU, we have declared our support for the plans and so have most of the other member nations until now,” said DBU's chairman Allan Hansen, according to Ekstra Bladet tabloid. “We are positive about having this as a one-time event.”
It has not yet been decided which, or how many, cities will host the tournament, but Infantino indicated that the bidding process would be determined within the next few months. Once the bidding has been cleared up, it is expected that the decisions concerning the host cities would be made sometime in 2014.
But Platini’s plan didn’t go down well with everyone, with Jerome Valcke, the secretary general of the world football governing body, FIFA, being one surprising sceptic.
“If I can express myself as Jerome Valcke only, not as FIFA's secretary general, I would say that I don't understand it," said Valcke, according to the Inside World Football website. "If it transpires that a tournament with 24 teams is more difficult to organise in just one or two countries … that destroys the spirit of the competition. I don't want to be critical. I understand that it meets a need for UEFA given that Europe is in a crisis, but this is not what's best for the tournament.”
Europe’s top sports event has undergone a number of changes over the past 30 years. From 1960 until 1976, only four teams participated in the finals, and between 1980 and 1992, which Denmark won in Sweden, eight. From 1996 to 2012, there were 16 teams, and when France hosts the next tournament in 2016, 24 nations will take part.
Pundits have criticised the expansion of the Euros for reducing the quality of football, while others are positive that more countries will be given the opportunity to compete.
Given that there are will be six groups at Euro 2020, there is the possibility that UEFA might decide to assign each group to a region, which could very easily see the Nordic countries host their own group.