The 2016 European championships may be the final one localized within a country or neighboring countries, UEFA president Michel Platini said in announcing a plan to conduct the Euro 2020 event throughout Europe.
Platini said Friday the 24-team tournament would be played in 13 cities, with one of those cities hosting the semifinals and final. It was an idea he tossed in his final press conference after the Euro 2012 final in late June.
The other 12 cities would host three group-stage and one knockout-stage match, said Gianni Infantino, UEFA’s secretary general. He added UEFA would attempt to minimize distances between sites for each group, with a maximum two-hour flight where possible.
Infantino said countries which are successful in the bid process would be limited to one venue. As examples, the Welsh association plans to bid for Cardiff; the Scottish FA is supporting Glasgow. It would mean all 24 positions would be open for qualification; there would be no “host” country and the defending champion does not automatically qualify. It also means hosting cities may be in countries whose national teams do not qualify.
When Platini brought out the idea last year, several European economies were in turmoil and were in the midst of taking austerity measures to control government spending. That would limit the ability of some countries to build new stadiums or renovate infrastructure — the eight stadiums used last year in Poland and Ukraine were built or renovated for about $3 billion.
UEFA’s executive committee is scheduled to meet March 28 to determine bid requirements; a final decision on host cities is expected in September 2014.