Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 6 No. 212

Events and Attractions

England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland "submitted bids to UEFA on Friday to host matches" at Euro 2020 which will be staged across the continent for the first time, according to Hann, Baldwin & Halpin of REUTERS. The English FA said that "it had expressed an interest in two packages" -- to be either host city for both semifinals and the final or one of the 12 group-stage packages on offer. The FA of Wales announced separately that "it had bid for a package of three group games plus a last-16 or quarter-final." Matches "would be staged at Wembley and Cardiff's Millennium Stadium under the proposals, with Scotland putting forward Hampden Park and Ireland aiming to use Dublin's Aviva Stadium." FA General Secretary Alex Horne "recognised UEFA would have many strong bids but held up London's recent record of hosting big events." Horne: "We are bidding for either of the two packages ... and with our recent experience of hosting two UEFA Champions League Finals in the last four years we believe that Wembley Stadium and London represent a strong bid for UEFA to consider" (REUTERS, 4/25). In London, Andrew Warshaw reported England and Germany's rivalry on the pitch "is the stuff of legend." England and Germany now "have a new battle on their hands" as they go head to head for the right to stage the semifinals and final of Euro 2020. Since the completion of its redevelopment in '07, Wembley now holds 90,000 compared with 71,137 at Allianz Arena, home of European champions Bayern Munich, but "the Germans will argue that they have not held the Euros" since '88 (INDEPENDENT, 4/27). The London GUARDIAN reported the Dutch, who co-hosted Euro 2000 with Belgium, "have proposed Amsterdam and the Belgians are bidding with a planned new stadium in Brussels." No nation that has hosted the Euros since 2000 is "formally bidding to host in 2020" (GUARDIAN, 4/26). The PA reported Wales bid "has been backed" by Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale. Bale: "It would then be an unbelievable experience to play in the 2020 European Championship finals in my home city of Cardiff." There "had been a question mark over the Welsh bid" as cities needed to nominate two airports to service rival sets of fans, but the FAW "has signed agreements which would use both Cardiff and Bristol airports.'' FAW CEO Jonathan Ford said, "We believe that we have a strong and compelling proposition" (PA, 4/25).

BACKING OUT: REUTERS' Ken Farris reported Turkey, Switzerland and France "pulled out of the race to host matches at Euro 2020." Istanbul "was among the favorites" to stage the final and semifinals, but Turkey withdrew because "it wanted to host the whole tournament rather than sharing it with other cities and would bid for the Euro 2024 finals instead." Friday was the deadline for countries to hand in their bid dossiers to UEFA, with the venues to be chosen in September. The Swiss, who had put forward Basel as their proposed venue, co-hosted Euro 2008 with Austria and said that "they thought this would reduce their chances of being awarded matches." France "decided not to put Lyon forward as a candidate city for Euro 2020 because the country is already hosting the 2016 edition." French Football Federation President Noel Le Graet said, "In the name of solidarity ... I would like to tell UEFA president Michel Platini we are going to drop our bid." Earlier this week, the Czech Republic and Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland "pulled out of the bidding for 2020 while Belgium confirmed it would put Brussels forward as a candidate city" (REUTERS, 4/25).

The "long-awaited day arrived" last weekend for Argentine MotoGP fans when the series returned to Argentina for its first race in the country since '99, according to Miguel Angel Sebastián of CLARIN. Fans from "throughout the country invaded the Termas de Río Hondo track." The race's organizers "expected it to attract more than 58,000 spectators" (CLARIN, 4/27). CNN's Jonathan Hawkins wrote "for a championship with a distinctly Iberian streak, it is no surprise that South America should be high on MotoGP's list of territories to conquer." The last time Argentine fans "heard the roar of grand prix bikes," current champion Marc Marquez "was just six years old." Enthusiasm for the sport "in these parts is clear." In March, as the drivers "lined up on the grid for the season's opening race in Qatar, 65,000 tickets had already been sold." MotoGP rights holder Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta said, "There is interest in MotoGP in this country, and a circuit and track at the best level possible, with FIM homologation, and with the government of Santiago del Estero completely committed and involved in the project. Argentina is a country that deserves to have MotoGP" (CNN, 4/25).

The Ultimate Fighting Championship and Nike "appear to be grappling with each other" over a world tour involving three of MMA's "biggest names," according to Sanjay Nair of the STRAITS TIMES. Jon Jones, Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre "are expected to be part of the Nike-sponsored Fighters World Tour, which will see the three stars showcase their talents in 11 cities, including Singapore, starting next month." But in a Facebook post, UFC said that the event "was 'false advertising,' and advised fans not to buy tickets as none of the three UFC fighters are involved." The Las Vegas-based company added it spoke directly to the fighters and "none knew of such a seminar." The tour, which is scheduled to start in Paris on May 5 and ends in Manila on June 7, "is sponsored by Nike and promoted in Asia by LAMC Productions, Ch'i Life Studio Asia and Rockstar Touring." Nike's head office in the U.S. "is expected to respond in the coming days to UFC's allegations" (STRAITS TIMES, 4/27).

Leading V8 Supercars drivers "are calling for a second New Zealand race weekend to be added to the series' calendar," according to David Long of FAIRFAX NZ NEWS. It is a "costly logistical exercise to fly over all the cars, equipment and staff," but with the success Kiwi drivers Scott McLaughlin, Fabian Coulthard and Shane van Gisbergen are having, there "may never be a better time to add another New Zealand round." Coulthard said, "I definitely think there should be another race in New Zealand." McLaughlin "has also joined the call for there to be back-to-back New Zealand rounds and also suggested that the other event could be a street race." McLaughlin said, "I don't think it would be unfair to have another New Zealand race, and the crowd support would be massive for it." Ford Performance Racing's Mark Winterbottom said that "if there was to be a second race in New Zealand, the South Island should be considered." He said, "There are some good tracks in the South Island now, like Highlands Park" (FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 4/27).