Israel bids to host games in 2020 Euro soccer tournament
Having hosted 2013’s UEFA Under-21 tourney, Israel joins 18 other countries seeking role in innovative multinational plan for 2020
GENEVA — Israel has submitted a bid to host games in soccer’s 2020 European Championship.
Governing body UEFA said Saturday that 19 countries are bidding to host games in the tournament being played across Europe, while the final and semi-final stages will be held at either Wembley Stadium in London or Munich’s Allianz Arena.
England and Germany are also bidding for one of the 12 hosting packages of three group-stage matches in the 24-team tournament, plus a single knockout match from the last-16 or quarterfinals rounds.
Israel, along with Azerbaijan, Belarus and Macedonia are among bidders which have never hosted a major tournament. Last year, Israel hosted the 2013 European Under-21 Championship, which many analysts in Israel consider to be the most prestigious sporting tournament ever to be staged in Israel. Spain defeated Italy to win that tournament.
“Member associations will also benefit greatly from this format, since more of them will be exposed to an elite tournament and have the opportunity to increase the development of football in their respective countries,” UEFA President Michel Platini said in a statement.
UEFA’s executive committee will choose the host cities on September 19 in Geneva.
Platini proposed the innovative multinational hosting plan on the eve of the Euro 2012 final in Kiev.
He has pledged to limit the burden of travel distances and costs for fans who want to follow the 51-match tournament across several time zones.
Istanbul was the favorite to get the final before the Turkey Football Federation withdrew Friday to target hosting Euro 2024 alone.
England last hosted the Euros in 1996, when it lost to eventual winner Germany in the semifinals.
West Germany hosted Euro ’88 and also lost in the semifinals to the eventual winner, Netherlands.
Wembley and the Allianz Arena have also hosted three of the past four Champions League finals. An English team, Chelsea, won in Munich and Bayern Munich — which has Allianz as its home stadium — won at Wembley last May.
The Dutch, which co-hosted Euro 2000 with Belgium, have proposed Amsterdam and the Belgians are bidding with a planned new stadium in Brussels.
No nation which has hosted the Euros since 2000 is formally bidding to host in 2020.
However, 2018 World Cup host Russia has bid with St. Petersburg.
A total of 13 UEFA member countries did not submit bids after initially expressing interest last September.
The bidding nations are: Azerbaijan (Baku), Belarus (Minsk), Belgium (Brussels), Bulgaria (Sofia), Denmark (Copenhagen), England (London), Macedonia (Skopje), Germany (Munich), Hungary (Budapest), Israel (Jerusalem), Italy (Rome), Netherlands (Amsterdam), Ireland (Dublin), Romania (Bucharest), Russia (St. Petersburg), Scotland (Glasgow), Spain (Bilbao), Sweden (Stockholm), Wales (Cardiff).
The UEFA Euro tournament, which is held every four years, will be hosted by France in 2016.
Israel’s national soccer team received a favorable draw in February for the qualifying stages of the 2016 tourney.
Israel was placed in Group B, along with World Cup competitors Belgium, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Andorra, Cyprus and Wales.