Platini Praises Poland/Ukraine; Multi-city Plan Floated for Euro 2020

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Platini at the Euro 2012 trophy presentation in Kiev last night (Getty)
(WFI) Michel Platini says the success of Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine has vindicated UEFA's decision to take the tournament to Eastern Europe for the first time.

"Poland and Ukraine showed the whole world that they can organise this type of event and that they needn't have any concerns. They can be proud of the work they've done, their enthusiasm and the final results. I'm proud of them," he told UEFA.com on Monday.

Bar several ugly incidents of hooliganism, particularly between Russian and Polish fans, and the disgraceful racial abuse from a minority of fans aimed at some black players, Euro 2012 will largely be remembered for the football. The Netherlands early exit, the quality of play throughout the month-long competition and the hospitality of the host nations gave fans plenty to remember.

"Never was the phrase 'Creating History Together' more true in terms of economy, infrastructure, football development and social development," Platini told a press conference on Saturday.

"The Polish and Ukrainian people have showed their enthusiasm, and they have set a very high bar for the future which will be difficult to match.

Platini heaped praise on the presidents of the Polish and Ukraine FAs, Grzegorz Lato and Grigoriy Surkis, for spearheading their countries' preparations.

"The two countries have passed the exam collectively," Lato was quoted on UEFA.com. "Thanks to the Polish government for its input and investments. It was a big leap for us in terms of sports and social development. It was a great 'first'."

There are major concerns the Euro 2016 edition in France, which is expanded from 16 to 24 teams, will not come anywhere near to matching the drama of the Euro 2012 group stages due to an abundance of weaker teams.

But Platini continues to deny the tournament will suffer as a spectacle. However, he has yet to provide a reasoned argument as to how 24 teams will benefit Euro 2016.

Asked what he thought the changes to the format would add that has been lacking, Platini responded to a UEFA.com user's question today with this: "Above all, it will show everyone that Europe does have 24 teams with the necessary technical level to participate in the final phase of a competition like this. I'm sure of it."

Another New Format for Euro 2020

The UEFA chief dealt a blow to Turkey's chances of hosting Euro 2020 when he revealed on Saturday that discussions were taking to place to hold the competition in "12 or 13 cities" across Europe.

"It is just an idea, but in these days of cheap air travel anything is possible," he told the press conference, adding that it had the support of most of UEFA's ExCo members.

"We are going to have a meeting with all of our national federations coming up to December and in December or January we're are going to make a decision."

Platini claims it would make the tournament organisation easier, reducing the need for countries to invest heavily in venues and transport infrastructure. The 24-team format will certainly make it increasingly harder for smaller European countries to host the Euros unless they join forces with neighbouring nations.

Turkey were the only Euro 2020 bidder in May but its bid remains complicated by Istanbul's 2020 Olympics ambitions. This fact together with a lack of bidders prompted UEFA to reopen the bidding process.

Republic
of Ireland, Scotland and Wales are assessing whether to submit a joint bid for Euro 2020. Azerbaijan and Georgia have also expressed an interesting bidding. Other joint bids are expected to emerge in the coming months.
The UEFA ExCo will publish its detailed bid regulations in December. Football associations interested in bidding will then be asked to prepare bid documentation to submit bids by September 2013.

These will be evaluated before the announcement of the Euro 2020 host(s) is made in May 2014.

Euro 2020 marks the 60th anniversary since the first European Football Championship in 1960.

More Outcomes from UEFA Ex-Co

*Meanwhile, the UEFA Ex-Co also approved a new revenue distribution split for clubs for the UEFA club competition cycle 2012-15. In what UEFA termed a show of increased solidarity among the clubs, a contribution of €40 million from the UEFA Champions League will be made to the UEFA Europa League clubs, in order to reduce the income gap between the two competitions.

This will be made up of around €31.5 million from the UEFA Champions League clubs and around €8.5 million from UEFA. Revenues for both club competitions are expected to rise for the 2012-15 cycle: 22% for the UEFA Champions League (estimated yearly income of €1.34 billion) and 12% for the UEFA Europa League (estimated yearly income of €225 million).

* UEFA's chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina updated the ExCo on the performance of the additional assistant referees (AARs). In over 1,000 matches, including 290 in the UEFA Champions League, 615 in the UEFA Europa League and 30 matches at EURO 2012, and with the exception of one error at EURO 2012 - Ukraine's ghost goal against England - "the experiment with AARs has proved extremely positive", UEFA said. UEFA called for a full debate on the use of goal-line technology in football to take place before a decision is taken place to bring it into football. The International Football Association Board is expected to approve either the Hawk-Eye or GoalRef systems at a meeting in Zurich on Thursday.

*Around 580 clubs, representing all 53 UEFA national associations will benefit from the distribution of payments from Euro 2012, a marked increase on the 180 clubs that received a share from Euro 2008. A figure of €100 million from Euro 2012 will be handed out to the clubs. It follows a new Memorandum of Understanding struck by the European Club Association and UEFA in March. This was made possible by the decision to reserve €40 million to all those clubs having released players to the Poland/Ukraine qualification matches. These clubs will receive an equal share per player released for each qualification match. The remaining €60 million will be distributed to the clubs having released one or more of their players for the finals tournament.

ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, said: “The increase from €55 million to €100 million clearly recognises the significant contribution clubs make to the success of the tournament. We are pleased with the overall outcome. It will not only benefit around 580 clubs, but football as a whole.”

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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