Category Archives: Soccer

The European Solution

Interesting story today out of the soccer world. Seems UEFA has decided that Euro 2020 will be held across the entire continent, rather than limited to a specific country (or two in last year’s case).

I both love and fear this decision all at once – if it’s at all possible to do such a thing.

At this point, the details are a bit hazy on this story, but it’s initially been suggested that up to 12 countries could host the tournament. This is not at all what I fear. In fact, a pan-European tournament is an idea I can get onboard with. Who gets to host the party is the concern…

It’s no secret the Eurozone is struggling right now.  The potential for fiscal tensions to develop between countries that pull their economic weight (ie. Germany) and countries that don’t (ie. Greece, Italy, Spain) could potentially get worse into the next decade. So, a future celebration of the game and European integration could do wonders for the continent.

Plus, given how well connected Europe is (both by rail and air) logistical problems seem like they won’t be an issue. If it’s truly and completely “across” Europe, there may be some time zone issues as the stages progress. But, even then the effects wouldn’t be dramatic.

Besides, the US hosted World Cup ’94 across a massive continent and it went off fairly smoothly.

 * Sidebar – Bonus points for anyone who remembered Bulgaria finished fourth in that tournament. Who knew?

The real concern will be which countries end up getting the nod to host games. Hosting an event like Euro or the Olympics, or whatever, represents a massive opportunity for development in the country.

When Poland and the Ukraine hosted Euro 2012 massive infrastructure upgrades were needed to accommodate the huge influx of tourists. I know this because I was travelling in Poland in 2011 and every single train station I happened across was getting massive renovations.

Everyone I talked to basically said it was because of the Euro tournament. Even cities like Katowice, which didn’t actually host games, were able to get in on the action:

(Click to enlarge)

 

Plus, Warsaw got a pretty ballin’ looking stadium on the river out of it:

(Click to enlarge)

Would there have been improvements to these facilities without the Euro tourney? Probably. Especially considering the European Union funds development projects for new members all the time. But, hosting the tournament gave the perfect excuse to get the ball rolling and do an expansive job.

It’s a similar idea to Brazil hosting the next World Cup and Summer Games. It’s a logical decision that gives them a good reason to do lots of practical things.

So, when the 2020 tournament rolls around, picking the right locales will be an opportunity not to be wasted.

For example, England has said they want to host the final. Possibly at Wembley… Thanks, England. We weren’t sure you’d be interested. I guess their economy is in the toilet as much as a lot of places, but having just hosted a wildly successful Olympics, maybe its better to gracefully step aside in this case.

Instead, hosting it across countries like Romania, Turkey, and Estonia, as it’s been suggested, would be an excellent chance for them to improve their infrastructure, soak up some tourism dollars, and just generally enjoy some exposure.

Europe as a whole will be better off for it.