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SBD Global/December 10, 2012/International Football
New Euro 2020 Format Garners Support From Nations, Criticism From Fans
Published December 10, 2012
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GATHERING SUPPORT: The PA's Martyn Ziegler noted UEFA had held talks with fan group Football Supporters Europe and convinced it that the "zany" format of holding games in 13 matches across Europe would benefit the majority of supporters. Platini said, "We have some decisions to make now -- some political, some geographical -- for example we cannot have an English fan going to Lisbon, Kazakhstan and Sweden. We will have an intelligent solution -- not chasing the fans all over Europe" (PA, 12/7). The AP's Graham Dunbar noted Platini acknowledged the project needs an "intelligent solution" to create a 51-match schedule that avoids "chasing fans all over Europe" to watch their teams. Platini said UEFA recognized there was a problem when only "50 French and 70 Spaniards" came to some Euro 2012 matches. Platini: "It was difficult to go to Poland and Ukraine. Now the Euro is going toward the fans" (AP, 12/7).
SPONSORS ON BOARD: REUTERS' Keith Weir noted European football sponsors adidas and Carlsberg "have applauded UEFA's decision to spread Euro 2020 across the continent, and the format is likely to appeal to other major int'l brands." Industry experts said that the change from having just one or two host nations "risked reducing the buzz that distinguishes events such as World Cups and Olympics," but football's commercial appeal was "strong enough to withstand that." Adidas said in a statement: "We see a lot of potential in UEFA's plans for Euro 2020." Carlsberg, which has sponsored the tournament since '88, "was also positive." The Danish brewer said: "We are aware of these plans for the 2020 Championship and think they look interesting." Broadcasters "are also believed to be reasonably comfortable with the arrangement," although the host cities will not be finalized until early '14. European Sponsorship Association Chair Karen Earl said that the "beauty of the new format for sponsors was that they would reach more of their major markets." Earl said, "Getting your message across the whole of Europe is more attractive, it's more effective." She pointed out that sponsors "would probably have to have bigger budgets to launch advertising campaigns across multiple markets" (REUTERS, 12/7).
IN WHOSE INTEREST? In London, Oliver Kay wrote "if there was a sense that UEFA had really thought this out, weighing up the pros and cons, carefully considering the impact on the competition and the interests of the spectators, it would be possible to look first of all for the potential benefits" of the new format. However, "unfortunately there is not." Platini "and his friends, both at UEFA and FIFA, lost the right to the benefit of the doubt long ago." Football "is not a consideration here, neither, it sadly goes without saying, are the supporters." To expect fans "to traipse from one country to another," perhaps from Madrid to Stockholm to Kiev to London, to support their team "is simply too much." But UEFA, like FIFA, "is not interested in the die-hard fans" (LONDON TIMES, 12/7). Also in London, Des Kelly wrote "the EasyJet 2020 European Championship has a certain ring to it," but "don't scoff." The plan is "already at the departure gate." Platini "has helped himself to Duty Free, and he is now wheeling his latest idiotic idea through the Nothing To Declare But My Greed channel at airports across Europe." The new UEFA scheme "is to take what is widely regarded as a fantastic int'l tournament of concentrated excellence and dismantle it; ruining the format by scattering Euro 2020 games throughout the continent, having already diluted the quality for the '16 tournament by increasing the number of competing nations from 16 to 24" (DAILY MAIL, 12/7).
FANS NOT ON BOARD: In London, James Riach noted Football Supporters Europe revealed that 82% of fans "have rejected UEFA's plan." The FSE represents more than three million supporters and received 1,200 responses to its survey that revealed "an overwhelming majority are steadfastly against" Platini's idea. It said: "This reluctance came from individual fans who follow their national team as well as from big national fan organisations, who support their teams at qualifiers and big tournaments and represent several hundreds of thousands of football supporters" (GUARDIAN, 12/7). Also in London, Sam Wallace wrote UEFA may try to present the new format "as a ground-breaking, inclusive idea, but it was born of just another cock-up." The problem is that attending int'l tournaments, even those in Europe, "is starting to be as grandiose and expensive as attending the America's Cup." How can a pan-European championship "even be called a tournament when it lacks the flavour of one or two host nations?" There are "plenty of capable single-host nations." Platini, "for reasons best known to himself," chose to spread out the tournament "and increase the cost for the ordinary fan" (INDEPENDENT, 12/6).