wembley, stadio olimpico

THIS SUMMER'S EXTRAVAGANZA WILL TRAVEL ALL ACROSS EUROPE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ITS HISTORY

The pandemic-delayed is set to kickoff from June 11, with Turkey taking on Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in the opening match. This might make you feel that Italy is hosting the tournament this summer but you would be wrong. In keeping with the extraordinary times that we are living in, this edition of Europe’s international competition is being hosted across 11 stadiums in 11 cities. FootTheBall takes you through details of this unique event.

 

PLATINI’S VISION

Former UEFA President Michele Platini was the brains behind this project along with then-UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino. In 2012, Platini announced that the plan was to have celebrate the 60th “birthday” of the European Championships (2020) be spread out over 12 to 13 cities. Accordingly, bids were invited for the proposed venues, which earned a miffed response from Turkey who had earlier emerged as the solo nation to host the tournament. 

 

 

Subsequently, Turkey did not participate in the new bidding process with UEFA choosing 13 cities as part of the original list of hosts in 2014. These were Baku (Olympic Stadium), Brussels (Eurostadium), Copenhagen (Parken Stadium), London (Wembley Stadium), Munich (Allianz Arena), Budapest (Puskas Arena), Rome (Stadio Olimpico), Amsterdam (Amsterdam Arena), Dublin (Aviva Stadium), Bucharest (Arena Nationala), Saint Petersburg (Krestovsky Stadium), Glasgow (Hampden Park), Bilbao (San Mames). 

 

CHANGES AFOOT

Euro 2020 was rocked before it even got started. First, Michele Platini got himself banned for eight years in 2015. The former three-time Ballon D’Or winner along with former FIFA President Sepp Blatter were banished from all football-related activity after an investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee for corruption and illegal payments. Platini was replaced by Aleksander Ceferin as President who assumed charged in 2016.

 

 

In 2017, Brussels- which was supposed to host three group-stage and one round-of-16 match- had its right of hosting revoked after delays in the construction of the Eurostadium. Political machinations in the Belgian government and a concern of the environment led to the project being permanently stalled which resulted in Wembley gaining those matches. 

 

POSTPONEMENT AND ISSUE OF FANS

2020 was the year of the pandemic and it caused, among a lot of other things, the Euros to be delayed by a year. This decision was taken keeping in mind the health hazards as well as allowing national leagues to conclude their stalled seasons after a stoppage period. Though the name of the tournament would kept as “Euro 2020.”

 

Moreover, the risks of the coronavirus spreading had forced all football to held in empty stadium as crowds were being banned across countries. With the vaccination drive starting in 2021, Ceferin expressed his wish of hopefully having fans back in stadiums for the Euros in June, even if not at full capacity. This had its own domino effect.

 

 

Dublin was removed as host after the Irish football federation failed to receive assurances from the Irish government that fans will be allowed to populate watch matches live, as the pandemic situation was still not under fully control. Its share of of three group matches and one round-of-16 match went to St. Petersburg and London respectively.

 

 

Spain also witnessed an intra-country change of venue. The Basque government, under which Bilbao comes, had imposed strict guidelines to reduce the spread of the pandemic, which forced the Spanish football federation to reallocate the matches from San Mames in Bilbao to Estadio de La Cartuja in Seville so that spectators could be allowed.

 

FINAL PREPARATIONS

With the tournament less than a month away, UEFA has increased the squad size for each team from 23 to 26 players. It has also pledged to plant 50,000 trees in each of the host nation to combat the increasing pollution levels following the movement of fans from place to place.

 

 

All the stadiums are expected to witness some capacity of supporters presence, with the least being at least 20% (Munich) to as high as 50% (Baku, St. Petersburg) and even full capacity in Budapest, which has maintained that it will depend on spectators following the local rules strictly. The summer of joy is really upon us and Euro 2020 is officially set for takeoff. 

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