UEFA eyes Brussels kick-off for EURO 2020

Michel Platini held his first press conference of the new season Friday in Monaco.

The UEFA president took a moment to discuss EURO 2020 with Le Soir.

He continued to strenuously defend the financial fair play initiative and appeared glad that losses are on the decrease.

MONACO

FROM OUR SPECIAL REPORTER

As he does every year when drawing for the group stage of the Champions League and Europa League, UEFA President Michel Platini met with a host of hand-picked journalists. While not wishing to go into the possibility of him taking over for Sepp Blatter as head of FIFA in 2015 (“I don’t know yet; it’s a very different role”), he did cover financial fair play. The first big assessment will take place May 2014 and cover the fight against racism, match-fixing which remains the main priority of the European governing body, and the prospect of supra-national leagues such as the BeNeLigue, and EURO 2020, which will be staged all across Europe.

Bids to host the tournament need to be in by 12 September 2013.The winning cities will be selected one year later once the completed applications are submitted by 25 April 2014. Incomplete bid applications will be declared null and void. By September 12th, barring any last-minute hiccups, the Belgian Football Association will submit Brussels’ bid, but it has as yet refused to confirm that a definitive decision has been made.

 “EURO 2020 in the new format that was voted on has been a great success so far,” said the UEFA president with a smile. “The reaction to this idea in the football and political communities has been very positive. 20-odd bids, which should eventually be cut down to 13 hosts cities, look like they will come in on time. Sofia is interested the Greek government has lent its support etc. The fact that lots of countries can take part with one stadium is a big change, and it will enable the construction of a series of fine national stadiums capable of staging international matches. Does Brussels, as the unofficial capital of Europe, have an advantage? It will be up to the Executive Committee to decide at that time; it’s not my decision to make. What I can tell you is that it will be less about the stadiums than the cities’ airport and hotel infrastructures.”

Platini chose his words carefully, but behind the scenes at UEFA Le Soir has learned that Brussels, backed by the European Commission, would represent the ideal choice to host the opening match, two other group matches. And, depending on stadium capacities, a quarter-final (60,000 capacity required) or round-of-16 match (50,000) at EURO 2020. This depends, of course, on whether an agreement and financing can found in order to see the national stadium project through to fruition all this with elections just around the corner.

The battle is far from won, given the criticism aimed at the Brussels government after it chose Parking Lot C as the location for the stadium, the attempts of Belgian clubs – via the Pro League – to ensure that Anderlecht does not get to use the new arena, and the fact that financing will be very difficult to secure. In fact, a sum in the region of €300 million (€230 million for the stadium, which could be based on the Stockholm model, and €65 million for additional facilities) will be needed.

THOMAS BUSIAU

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