Home nations make their Euro 2020 bids as Nations League tempts nobody
Bids from London, Cardiff, Glasgow and Dublin are being made to host matches at the 2020 European Championship – but why only the one city from each?
April 25th, 2014
Head of UEFA Michel Platini unveiled his grand plan for the 60th anniversary of the European Championship last year; the tournament will be played in 13 different cities across Europe, with one stadium hosting the semis and final. He attributes the decision to the romance of the occasion; however it’s thought that, having only had serious interest in hosting from Turkey plus a joint bid from Scotland, Ireland and Wales, Platini decided to spread the ‘love’ – and the expenses – by switching to several city hosts.
While Scotland and Wales have confirmed their bids just to host group matches, the English FA has also put its name forward for the semis and final; its 90,000-seater Wembley stadium being by far the largest of all bidding countries.
The unique nature of this one-off spectacle means that there will be no one host country; as such, all 54 UEFA national teams will be involved in qualifying to be one of the 24 at Euro 2020 – it could be that a country who wins a bid won’t have their own team at the finals.
The qualifying process itself is something of a mystery at the moment, with another grand unveiling welcomed by the FA today: the UEFA Nations League is set to kick off in the autumn of 2018 and will replace most international friendlies with meaningful league games that will take place alongside the usual qualifying process for Euro 2020.
It’s all pretty vague so far, but I’ll try to sum it up: 54 teams will be divided into four tiered divisions based on quality, like the English league system. Based on average national rankings, England will find themselves in the Premier League with Spain and Germany, while there’s a good chance that Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales will all be together at League One-level.
Four of the 24 places in Euro 2020 will be up for grabs to each division winner, following a series of play-offs. On the off-chance that Spain smash both their Euro Qualifying Group and Nations League pool of four…and that’s as far as we go because it’s all still so bloody nebulous; I’m reminded of that scene from the classic sports film Baseketball where the two commentators are trying to explain the hugely confusing tournament bracket to each other.
On top of which, replacing friendlies with league games not only increases the stakes in each game – leading to even more knackered and injured players compared to a friendly – but decreases the opportunity to play teams from outside Europe, closing off even more avenues for us to study the international game.
Whether it’s economic consideration or simply a lack of interest, Platini has made it considerably harder for us to enjoy international football after the 2018 World Cup by ramping up the tension for a tournament that has lost its lustre ever since the Germans knocked us out on pens at Wembley all those years ago.