By David Gold

Mikhail Saakashvili_8_March_March 8 - Georgia is planning to bid to host the football European Championships in 2020 with neighbours Azerbaijan, who are already bidding for that year's Olympics and Paralympics, their President said on Wednesday.

Mikhail Saakashvili (pictured) was speaking to the Azerbaijani Parliament when he confirmed that "Azerbaijan and Georgia...will apply to jointly host the European football championships in 2020".

The announcement is a surprise as Baku has already launched its bid for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, although they are considered the big outsiders in the race against Doha, Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo. 

Azerbaijan is also holding the Women's Under-17 World Cup later this year.

Were the two countries to prove successful with their ambitions, it would be the latest of a number of major sports events to come to the region.

Not far from Georgia, Sochi is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, whilst Russia is staging the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and this summer Ukraine and Poland are staging the football European Championships.

Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria have all been linked with various joint bids for the 2020 event, as have Euro 2000 co-hosts Netherlands and Belgium.

Turkey is another country that has been mooted after missing out on Euro 2016 to France.

They are also bidding for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics and the Government has already made it clear that they will not pursue a bid for the football event if Istanbul is put on the shortlist for the Games, which most experts consider to be a certainty.

But Turkey's chances of succeeding and being awarded the Olympics are considered to be far greater than Azerbaijan's.

Neither Georgia or Azerbaijan have qualified for a major international football competition since the break up of the Soviet Union and subsequent independence in 1991.

UEFA is expected to make a decision on the Euro 2020 host in 2014.

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