France Gets Go-Ahead to Stage Euro 2016 in 11 Host Cities

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(WFI) UEFA has approved plans by Euro 2016 organisers to add the two reserve cities of Toulouse and Saint-Etienne to the nine cities already selected to host games at the finals in France.

Euro 2016 will expand from 16 teams participating at next year's edition in Poland-Ukraine to 24. This means 51 matches as opposed to the usual 31 at the tournament.

Meeting yesterday in Nyon, the UEFA Executive Committee decided to increase the number of host cities to 11 to better cope with the increased number of matches.

"I preferred for the Executive Committee to intervene without delay, to put a rapid end to any uncertainty," said UEFA president Michel Platini.

"I am convinced that the Executive Committee's decision is a very good one. It is a common-sense decision for UEFA, a decision of equity for the candidate cities, and a decision of general interest for the host country."

Last month, the French Football Federation dropped Toulouse and Saint Etienne from their Euro 2016 plans. The nine cities originally selected were: Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nancy, Nice, Paris and Saint-Denis. New stadiums are going up in Lyon, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

In other decisions made by UEFA, the 2013 UEFA Europa League final was awarded to the Amsterdam ArenA. It will be the second major continental showpiece at the home of four-time European champions Ajax. As reported by INSIDER yesterday, Wembley was chosen as the 2013 Champions League final venue.

Dutch FA president Michael van Praag was delighted with the decision: "We put the Amsterdam ArenA forward as a candidate because the stadium will be renovated on a large scale in the next couple of years. It will be a state-of-the-art stadium again.

"The KNVB has built up a good name in organising international tournaments and matches. With this final we will have the opportunity to show we are able to continue that fine tradition."

The 51,800-seater Amsterdam ArenA staged the 1998 Champions League final and was also a venue for Euro 2000 co-hosted by the Netherlands and Belgium.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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