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Soccer - 12 Oct 2021
Uefa, European soccer’s governing body, has given member associations interested in hosting matches from its 2028 men’s European Championships national teams competition until March next year to set out their proposals.
The pan-continental tournament, which in 2028 will feature 24 teams playing a total of 51 matches, will have its host determined and then appointed in September 2023 – meaning the entire bidding process will last just under two years from now.
Joint bids will be permitted if the countries involved are all “geographically compact”, and interested parties will need to provide 10 stadiums.
The timeline gives national associations until 23 March next year to confirm their interest, with Uefa to announce the bidders on 5 April.
The final submission deadline for bids will be 12 April 2023 – a full year on – and then Uefa will appoint the host nation/s in September 2023 (although the governing body has noted that these dates are subject to change, with the final competition regulations having not yet been issued).
So far, five nations have expressed a definite intention to bid for hosting rights – Turkey on its own, and a combined proposal from Romania, Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia.
Bids from Italy and England and a joint submission from Portugal and Spain have also been reported in the media as likely.
The most recent Euros took place earlier this year across 12 countries on the continent, with the most matches (including both semi-finals and the final) taking place in the UK.
However, Aleksander Ceferin, Uefa’s president, told media during the tournament that, because of the logistical difficulties and travel involved: “I would not support [the format] anymore … It is not correct that some teams have to travel more than 10,000km while others have to only travel 1,000km.”
He added that the format “is not fair to fans, who had to be in Rome one day and in Baku over the next few”.
The president pointed out that the multi-host concept was first suggested in 2012, well before he took office (in September 2016), saying: “It was a format that was decided before I came [into the post] and I respect it. It is an interesting idea but it is hard to implement and I don't think we will do it again.”
Germany is currently scheduled to host the tournament on its own in 2024, with no plans at the moment to take matches into any other European nations.
The 2028 Euros would potentially be the first Uefa national team tournament to clash with a biennial Fifa World Cup, with proposals along those lines from the sport’s global governing body having gathered pace in recent weeks.
Fifa would likely begin holding its most prestigious event every two years instead of every four after the 2026 World Cup in the US, Canada and Mexico, meaning Euro 2028 would therefore end up being the first European tournament to come into contact with a new-format World Cup.
While the automatic qualification of one or two host nations for the 2024 tournament would be guaranteed, Uefa has noted that, “in order to ensure compatibility with the competition’s sporting and commercial format”, automatic qualification would not be guaranteed for three or more host nations.
In terms of the stadiums which must be provided meanwhile, the host nation/s bid must contain at least one venue with a minimum capacity of 60,000 and preferably two arenas that can house at least 50,000.
The other seven stadiums must have a capacity of at least 30,000.