FIFA president Sepp Blatter has criticised UEFA’s plan to stage Euro 2020 across multiple cities on the continent as removing the “heart and soul” of the competition.
UEFA confirmed in January that Euro 2020 would be staged across 13 different cities in Europe as part of a major restructuring of the quadrennial national team tournament. The idea to spread the football tournament across Europe was first suggested by UEFA president Michel Platini in June 2012 after a lukewarm response to the governing body’s deadline for expressions of interest in hosting the tournament in its traditional manner. The ‘Euro for Europe’ vision foresees that matches will be split into 13 different packages, with 12 ordinary packages including three group matches and one knockout round (round of 16 or quarter-finals), and one package for the semi-finals and the final.
However, Blatter told German magazine Kicker: “A tournament should be played in one country. That is how you create identity and euphoria. They have fragmented the 2020 tournament. So it is not a European Championship any more. It has to have a different name. I do not know what name. Such a Euro lacks heart and soul.”
Meanwhile, Blatter has maintained that he plans to step aside as FIFA president when his current tenure ends in 2015, as long as world football’s governing body is in a stable position. “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,” he said. “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.” Platini is widely considered to be Blatter’s heir apparent as the head of world football, but the current president added: “I do not know if he wants to. 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.”