We're taking matches to the fans with pan-continent Euro 2020, says Platini
Monday, 10 December 2012
December 10 - UEFA President Michel Platini says the pan-continental 2020 European Championship finals will be a help rather than hindrance for thousands of fans criss-crossing borders.
Platini (pictured top) acknowledged that his idea of at least 12 host cities, approved last week by his top brass, needed an "intelligent solution" for the 51-match schedule to avoid fans "chasing all over Europe" to support their teams.
"We can't have England fans going to Lisbon and Kazakhstan and then somewhere else," Platini said at a media briefing.
"We have some decisions to make now – some political, some geographical.
Platini admitted that Football Supporters Europe, with whom UEFA has been liaising, was initially sceptical about both the cost and travel burden.
"They were against it originally but we told them we would help them as much as we can," he said.
"We're taking the matches to the supporters in quite a number of countries."
France will host the first expanded 24-team event in 2016, followed by the pan-European one-off project designed in part to keep down the expense.
"It was a great Euro [in Poland and Ukraine] but it was very expensive, almost as expensive as the Olympic Games," said Platini.
Platini himself came up with the idea of staging the pan-European 2020 finals but said member associations have the final say.
"I just bring forward ideas and then national associations have their own meetings and workshops," he said.
UEFA aims to choose successful candidates in the spring of 2014, with about 40 countries possibly bidding.
But the semi-finals and final would almost certainly be staged in one country, with England among the early favourites.
"I think this would create a very special atmosphere among the supporters and it will be a week of national teams and it could be a great party," Platini explained.
The UEFA President also insisted he wants to support the Europa League rather than scrap it.
An interview he gave to a French newspaper led to reports UEFA are considering getting rid of its secondary tournament and having a 64-club Champions League instead.
"I never said I am going to stop the Europa League," said Platini.
"We have to look at all 53 countries and I believe the Europa League is great and that we need to support it and continue with it.
"It is a very popular competition."