Twelve host nations for Euro 2020? Get real

Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine has been a nightmare for travellers, but UEFA president Michel...

Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine has been a nightmare for travellers, but UEFA president Michel Platini is considering twelve host nations for the 2020 tournament. (KACPER PEMPEL/Reuters file photo)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:38 PM ET

KIEV - Between the exasperating three-hour waits at the border, the lack of fights leaving on time and the price gouging by hotel proprietors during Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, there have been plenty of cries for UEFA president Michel Platini to pull the plug on the idea of holding the tournament in two countries.

He may very well just do that.

By increasing the number of countries sixfold.

That’s not quite what people had in mind.

Indeed, the resounding “thump” of jaws hitting the floor in the Olympic Stadium conference room probably could be heard echoing throughout Kiev Saturday afternoon when the UEFA president announced that an idea was being kicked around to have up to a dozen nations host the 2020 event.

Really, Mr. President?

Wasn’t it enough of a pain in the rump trying to get from Gdansk, Poland to Donetsk, Ukraine in the same day?

Doesn’t he know there is an economic crisis going on in Europe right now?

In his mind, it probably will all be swept under the UEFA rug by 2020, right?

“The Euro in 2020 could be held all over Europe,” Platini said. “It could be either one country and 12 stadiums, or one stadium in 12 or 13 cities.”

It’s a head scratching concept, to say the least, and one that will be debated among members of UEFA’s executive council come January.

When far-fetched ideas like this sprout up, you wonder if UEFA officials have been watching the tournament.

Sure, they claim the teams at Euro 2012 have played at 98.6 percent capacity. But have they not seen the chunks of empty seats during some of the higher profile matches, a direct result of the logistical travel nightmares there have been during the competition?

The 2016 tournament has already been awarded to France. As for the competition four years later, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland all have expressed interest.

Turkey at one time was seen as the frontrunner for 2020, but their bid has fizzled because the country is also attempting to woo the 2020 Olympics. UEFA isn’t about to wait for the IOC’s decision to be made before choosing which option to take themselves.

One of Platini’s arguments for sprinkling the competition throughout Europe is that it would curtail the costs of building stadiums and airports. But wouldn’t that be more the case if they just stuck to doing it in one country?

Not in Platini’s mind. In his opinion, this is a concept that needs to be pursued.

“This matter will be discussed very seriously,” he said. “We will have a great debate about 2020 and discuss the pros and cons.

“It’s an idea I feel really passionate about. It will be a lot easier from a financial perspective. It is easier to go from London to Paris or Berlin than Cardiff to Gdansk. It would be four games per venue. It is a great debate.”

Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any more far-fetched, it did thanks to the following bomb that he dropped.

“We are just thinking about it. I have said 12 or 13 host cities. It could be 24 or 32. In these days of cheap air travel anything is possible.”

Twenty-four to 32 cities? For one tournament?

Can you say “travel nightmare?”

UPON FURTHER REVIEW ...

Platini once again dug his cleats in the sand when it came to his anti-replay stance.

While admitting that the the Ukrainians, did, in fact, score a goal against England that was not counted by the officials, he was quick to point out that the play leading up to the non-call was offside.

“Where does it stop?” he said. “Are we to use technology for offsides too.

“I am against all technology.”

That’s progressive thinking for you.

Not.

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Platini called reports suggesting France’s Samir Nasri might get a two-year suspension for a run-in with a French reporter during the tournament “ridiculous.” Added Platini: “If I was suspended every time I insulted journalists (during my playing days) I wouldn’t have many caps.” ... Platini praised the success of the tournament in both Ukraine and Poland. As for former England player Sol Campbell’s pre-tournament allegations that fans travelling to the Ukraine might return in coffins, officials noted that English fans mocked Campbell at the England-Ukraine game by carrying a fake coffin dedicated to him. “How can a person who has never been to Ukraine comment about Ukraine,” Ukrainian soccer federation president Grigoryi Surkis said.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/zeisberger


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