Thirteen cities to host Euro 2020, Uefa confirms

NYON, Switzerland (AFP) - European football's governing body Union of European Football Associations (Eufa) on Friday confirmed that the 2020 European Championship will be staged in 13 different cities across the continent.

Uefa's executive committee rubber-stamped the proposals, which were first made public last month, for the 2020 finals to be the first "Euro for Europe".

Previous tournaments have been held in one country or, as was the case at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, joint-hosted by two neighbouring countries.

For 2020, Uefa have stipulated that there will be a maximum of one venue per country, and added that the two semi-finals and the final will all be held in the same stadium.

The remaining 12 winning bids will each host three group matches as well as one knockout tie from either the Round of 16 or the quarter-finals.

No nation will qualify automatically for the finals, but every host that qualifies will be guaranteed two home matches in the group phase.

No such guarantees would be given for the knockout stages.

Uefa also said they will try to take travel distances into account when allocating hosting teams to groups, "for example, and if feasible, with flights not exceeding two hours' duration between two host cities to allow easy access to travelling fans".

Cities hoping to stage matches must put forward their bids by September this year, with the winning candidates named in September 2014.

Uefa president Michel Platini put forward the controversial plan in December, saying that it would be difficult for any one country to make the necessary financial commitment to stage a 24-team championship given the current economic climate.

However, he insisted that Uefa would do everything to make a pan-European event - to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the first European Nations Cup - as fan-friendly as possible.

"Countries that would never have had the chance to host the Euros will be able to participate in this festival of football," he said at the time.

"The situation is difficult in Europe. It's hard to ask one country to invest in 10 stadiums like in Ukraine. There's also the idea of belonging to a European country. It's a great idea to mark the anniversary.

"The Euros will go to the fans. It'll meet supporters. In previous years, they had to go to the Euros. Everything will be done so that the fans are able to get to games." Platini has also insisted that the competition will return to its traditional format for 2024.

The 2016 European Championship, which will be held in France, will be the first following the decision to increase the number of competing nations from 16 to 24.

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