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).