UEFA today began explaining how the 2020 edition of the European Championships will be held in 13 different cities across the European continent.
UEFA's secretary general Gianni Infantino made the announcement today as the organization laid out the first hard plans for this new way of holding the tournament. According to Infantino, each participating country would only get one venue and that the semifinals and final would be played in the same stadium. Venues will be chosen in September of 2014.
UEFA made the decision to change up the hosting of their Euro tournament back in December, switching from the format of having a single country host or two countries co-host. They explained that the move would allow greater access to smaller European countries who would not be capable of hosting a full tournament on their own.
Another necessary adjustment with this change is that countries who are selected to host games will not automatically quality for the tournament. Should a national team of one of the 13 host countries qualify, they will be guaranteed at least two of their three group matches at home.
Here's how things will work.
12 cities will be selected to host three group stage matches and one knockout round match. A 13th city will host the semifinals and finals of the tournament. The stadium that hosts the final two rounds must have a minimum capacity of 70,000, while two host cities with stadium capacities as low as 30,000 will be selected to ensure that smaller countries can get in on the fun. The other ten host stadiums will have a 50,000 seat minimum, 21 out of the 53 nations that are a part of UEFA have stadiums that fit that capacity requirement.
Infantino also explained that there will be a maximum of two host teams per group and travel distances will be taken in to consideration as UEFA tries to keep flight times between group stage games below two hours.
England and Wembley Stadium are expected to bid for the semifinals and finals and you'd expect they'll at least get group stage/knockout matches if that bid fails. Reports also have Rome, Berlin, Madrid and Istanbul in the mix for the final. Istanbul is apparently considered the favorite depending on the outcome of their 2020 Olympics bid.
Let the discussion, speculation and inevitable complaining begin!