In 2020, the UEFA Championship will be held in 13 European cities at once. One of them could be St. Petersburg: The Russian Football Union (RFU) officially announced Russia's northern capital as a candidate to host four matches of the European Football Championship.
On Sept. 12, the Russian Football Union decided to nominate St. Petersburg to host the European Championship finals in 2020.The city, according to RFU representatives, will be eligible for four matches—three in the group stage and one in the playoff stage.
St. Petersburg was chosen because, unlike other Russian cities, it fits UEFA criteria. “If we put forward any other Russian city, it could place a bid to host only two sets of 13 matches, according to different conditions. St. Petersburg placed a bid to host 12 of them,” said the RFU’s executive director Alexander Alaev.
Alaev noted that St. Petersburg is ready to take three group matches and one playoff match. "St. Petersburg placed a bid to host four matches: three group matches and one 1/8 final match, or one quarter-final match. It is up to the UEFA executive committee to decide. However, the capacity of the St. Petersburg stadium (about 70 million) will allow for the holding of quarterfinal matches, so we will do our best to get a reception of the highest category," he said.
The executive director also explained why it is that, when processing the request, the RFU did not make a bold push to hold the crucial stages of the tournament—the semi-finals and finals. Two years prior to Euro 2020, St. Petersburg will host the World Cup semi-finals. The likelihood that the city will be provided a chance to hold two consecutive semi-finals of major competitions is extremely small.
St. Petersburg was able to qualify for the European Championships in 2020, after Michel Platini changed the concept of the continental tournament in 2012, under the leadership of the executive committee of the UEFA. According to the slogan "Euro for Europe,” instead of being held in one or two countries, matches of the final round of the championship will be held in 13 countries and cities, one of which could become St. Petersburg.
The UEFA was prompted to do so by the new format of the tournament and the expansion of the number of participants (from 16 to 24 teams), which, coupled with the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the championship in 2020, may cause too much stress for one host country.
Approval of the list of candidate cities for Euro 2020 matches will take place at a meeting of the organization’s executive committee, which will be held in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik on Sept. 19-20. The final list of 13 cities will be announced in September 2014. In addition to St. Petersburg, Minsk, Brussels, Sofia, Lyon, Munich, Budapest, Jerusalem, Amsterdam, Belgrade, Basel, Istanbul, Kiev and Donetsk have officially placed a bid to host Euro 2020 matches.
First published in Russian in Kommersant.
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