Nineteen countries still bidding for Euro 2020, 13 drop out
(Reuters) - Thirteen of the 32 countries which originally expressed interest in hosting matches at Euro 2020 have dropped out while 19 have confirmed they are still in the race, UEFA said on Saturday.
England and Germany were the only two countries to put forward bids to stage the semi-finals and final of the tournament which will be staged around the whole continent, European soccer's governing body added in a statement.
In a radical departure from the traditional format for major tournaments, UEFA announced in 2011 that the Euro 2020, when the tournament celebrates its 60th anniversary, would be staged in 13 cities in 13 different countries.
Twelve of those will each stage three group matches plus a match from either the round of 16 or knockout stage while the 13th will stage the two semi-finals plus final. Each country can use one host city in what UEFA said at the time would be a one-off format.
Turkey, which had wanted to bid for the whole tournament before UEFA announced the new format, was among the countries to pull out of the race.
Under the bidding timetable, potential host nations were given until Friday to send detailed bid dossiers to UEFA.
UEFA said that the 19 countries who had sent dossiers were: Azerbaijan (Baku), Belarus (Minsk), Belgium (Brussels), Bulgaria (Sofia), Denmark (Copenhagen), England (London), Macedonia (Skopje), Germany (Munich), Hungary (Budapest), Israel (Jerusalem), Italy (Rome), Netherlands (Amsterdam), Ireland (Dublin), Romania (Bucharest), Russia (St Petersburg), Scotland (Glasgow), Spain (Bilbao), Sweden (Stockholm) and Wales (Cardiff).
Both England and Germany sent bids for a group stage package as well as the finals, UEFA said.
Armenia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Kazakhstan, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine were the countries who previously expressed interest in bidding but did not submit dossiers.
The host nations will be selected at UEFA's executive committee meeting in Geneva on September 19.
Turkey had been expected to bid for the semi-finals and final but on Friday said it wanted to concentrate on hosting the whole of Euro 2024 instead.
Switzerland said it believed its chances were slight after it co-hosted Euro 2008 with Austria and did not want to risk "wasted effort" on an unsuccessful candidacy.
French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet told a news conference on Friday that France had pulled out because it was already hosting the whole of Euro 2016.
"We are extremely happy to have received so many bids to host Euro 2020," said UEFA president Michel Platini.
"The 60th year anniversary edition of the tournament will be an historic one with matches played in many European countries.
"By spreading the Euro across our continent, we will allow more fans from more nations to share in the excitement of hosting such a magical event.
"Member associations will also benefit greatly from this format, since more of them will be exposed to an elite tournament and have the opportunity to increase the development of football in their respective countries.
No teams will qualify automatically for the tournament, potentially meaning that some host nations would not be taking part.
Those host nations which qualify will be guaranteed two home games in their group but it would be pot luck in the knockout stages. Each six-team group will include a maximum of two host nations.
(Reporting By Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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