Continent-wide Euro 2020 will lack heart and soul - Blatter

BERLIN Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:33am GMT

FIFA President Sepp Blatter speaks as he opens the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2012 Gala at the Kongresshaus in Zurich January 7, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

FIFA President Sepp Blatter speaks as he opens the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2012 Gala at the Kongresshaus in Zurich January 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Plans to stage the 2020 European soccer championships across the entire continent instead of just one country will result in the tournament losing its identity and soul, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said on Thursday.

Euro 2020 will be held in 13 cities across the continent and the semi-finals and final will be played in the same stadium, European soccer's governing body UEFA said in January.

"A tournament should be played in one country. That is how you create identity and euphoria," said Blatter, the head of world soccer's governing body.

"They have fragmented the 2020 tournament. So it is not a European championship any more. It has to have a different name," he told German kicker magazine. "I do not know what name."

"Such a Euro lacks heart and soul," said Blatter.

UEFA said that 12 cities would be awarded a package of three group games plus one knockout-stage game, either from the round-of-16 or quarter-finals.

A special 13th package would be awarded, consisting of the two semi-finals and final with UEFA eager to split the costs for the bigger tournament and celebrate its 60th anniversary across Europe.

The Swiss sports administrator also said he planned to end his stint at the top of the world soccer's governing body in 2015 if FIFA was strong and stable.

Blatter took over the top job in 1998.

"I want to push through the FIFA reforms at our congress in Mauritius in May, then we go to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014 and after that everything is open."

"When it is secured that FIFA will continue to be led like that, that it will remain global and the pyramid will not collapse then I will gladly hand over the sceptre to a new president," he said.

UEFA boss Michel Platini is seen as a possible successor to Blatter.

"I do not know if he wants to," said Blatter. "He has an idea about the future of FIFA which he has to explain to the continents at some point. But he has not decided yet."

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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