UEFA has hailed The Football Association for having “the best bid of all” as Wembley Stadium looks forward to adding the finale of UEFA Euro 2020 to its regular diet of England matches.
European football’s governing body last month selected The FA as the host association for the semi-finals and final of its flagship national-team competition when it becomes a ‘Euro for Europe’ in six years’ time.
Rather than being staged in one country, 12 cities from across the continent will host matches in the group and knockout stages before what promises to be a dramatic conclusion under the arch at Wembley.
With the new UEFA Nations League – offering more competitive-style matches for England against leading countries – also coming to Wembley from 2018 onwards, the future is a bright one for Three Lions’ supporters at the national stadium.
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino told a packed audience at the Leaders in Sport conference that Wembley was the outstanding choice.
He said: “Euro 2020 is a great concept. Congratulations to London and congratulations to Wembley for having been appointed to host the two semi-finals and the final of the Euro 2020. Wembley had the best bid of all the 19 bidders.”
Infantino added that the Euro 2020 concept has “captured the imagination” and will particularly allow UEFA to give an opportunity to those countries who otherwise may never have the opportunity to host an entire UEFA European Championship.
He said: “I have to take the words of the Chairman of The FA – ‘what a good idea this was’. It became really clear when the 13 cities were appointed last month, when you see the map of Europe, with the 13 cities with each hosting some matches, you see how fantastic this tournament will be.
“It is a tournament which for the first time will envelop the whole of Europe. We always have parties when we organise the Euro in a different country and now our ambition, our objective is to organise as a one-off because it is the 60th anniversary of the European Championship, a ‘Euro for Europe’. “
“How do you develop players if they know they will lose every match? To develop players you have to have chances to compete, to win”
Gianni Infantino UEFA general secretary
The prospect of the new UEFA Nations League is also an exciting one for England at Wembley. All 54 member associations will be separated into groups by ranking in a tournament that will ultimately finish in a ‘final four’ event.
Infantino said the idea had come about with the need to look again at the standard offered by ‘friendly’ fixtures outside of the usual FIFA World Cup and Euro qualifiers.
Potentially, England could play the likes of Germany, Spain and France on a competitive basis. For the inaugural 2018/19 campaign, UEFA Nations League group games will take place home and away over six matchdays, during the ‘double-headers’ in September, October and November 2018.
Click here to read about how the UEFA Nations League will work.
He said: “There is an interest level in qualifiers, but the interest for the friendly games is lower. Again our purpose is to develop football, to develop football needs to boost the interest in all countries of Europe.
“How do you develop players if they know they will lose every match? To develop players you have to have chances to compete, to win.
“By setting out the UEFA Nations League and ranking the teams according to their sporting results, by creating four different divisions of promotion and relegation, you play for something, you compete for something.
“You play against teams which are more or less of your level and you create a new UEFA Nations League champion every second year with the four winners of the four groups in the top division playing a ‘final four’ in the June of the odd year. So you create a new and additional element for the promotion of national team football.”