European soccer’s governing body will split games in the region’s 2020 championship between several nations in a revamp of the competition.
UEFA announced the decision following a quarterly meeting of its executive board in Lausanne, Switzerland, today. The plan was proposed by UEFA President Michel Platini on the eve of the Euro 2012 final in Kiev in July. Poland and Ukraine co-hosted the last event, and France is the next host in 2016.
“The process will be discussed over next couple of months,” UEFA’s General Secretary Gianni Infantino told a press conference today. “What’s clear is that it’s not going to be in one or two countries. How many countries is still to be decided.”
The change is the most radical in the Euros’ 52-year history. The competition began in 1960 with four teams in France before growing to eight and then 16 countries. UEFA said it made 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion) from the most recent edition of the quadrennial tournament. The event has been expanded to include 24 teams from 2016.
Turkey’s representative on the 17-member board was the only official to object to the decision, which has been taken to “celebrate” the 60th anniversary of the competition across Europe, Infantino said. Turkey’s now failed three straight times to be awarded rights to host Europe’s top national team tournament. Istanbul is also bidding to stage the Summer Olympics in 2020.
UEFA, which will decide on host cities by early 2014, faces several obstacles to ensure its expansion goes smoothly. On the field it will have to create a format where teams playing in their home stadiums don’t gain an unfair advantage over rivals, while also coping with issues arising from differences in tax systems among member countries and the travel demands on fans.
“Before taking this decision in the last six months we have been speaking to all our 53 associations and the response of 52 out of 53 was very positive,” Infantino said. “The associations see a chance for their countries to maybe host a Euro.”
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