Blatter hits out at Euro 2020 plans
Controversial FIFA chief Sepp Blatter has weighed in on plans to stage the 2020 European Championships across several countries – feeling that such plans would lack “heart and soul” if they were to go ahead as announced in December.
March 14th, 2013
In an interview with a German magazine, the 77-year-old decried plans to share out the group games plus knockout stages between a large number of different European cities.
“A tournament should be played in one country. That is how you create identity and euphoria,” he said, citing Germany’s “summer fairytale” World Cup of 2006 as one such example. Apparently Blatter had been approached with such an idea in the past – from Colonel Gaddafi! – about running the 2010 World Cup in every African country rather than just South Africa, but dismissed the idea as “unthinkable”.
He added, “[t]hey have fragmented the 2020 tournament. So it is not a European Championship any more. It has to have a different name, I do not know what name,” before going on to suggest that UEFA had “wasted” the opportunity to put on another footballing spectacle.
Cities have already put their names forward to be considered for participation in the tournament; with London having already bid for the 2020 final at Wembley, while Glasgow, Dublin and Cardiff have also expressed interest in hosting some of the games.
UEFA head Michel Platini has already expressed a preference for Istanbul to host the final, should they miss out on hosting the Olympics that year.
With the upcoming expansion of the tournament from 16 to 24 teams, the idea to split up the schedule in a way similar to those already run in junior age groups will at least soften the financial difficulty faced by one country in providing the facilities required to stage a major sporting tournament – including 10 or 11 of the highest quality stadiums. Such consideration reduces the pressure on any host nation to deliver, although the removal of an automatic qualifier as hosts means the pressure will be on the teams instead.