I see what he’s doing, I really do. But underneath a fairly decent—or incredibly wacky, depending on where you stand on this—idea, there is just a real sense that Michel Platini is trying to force real football fans out of the game.
Isn’t that the whole point, though? You’re the President of Uefa and you want to invite as many of your mates round for this big football party where the sponsors are fighting with each other to get ahead of the queue. What about the fans? Oh no need for them, it’s a 60,000 seat stadium but we’ll tuck the fans far away out of eye and ear shot as best we can.
Platini’s idea for Euro 2020 was actually quite interesting; at least enough for most to give it a once over and then form a final opinion. Although, many can be excused for simply writing this off as another moronic proposal by one of the leaders of the football world, especially considering their stance on certain topics in the past.
But why not look over this for a moment. Platini already wants to involve more teams when the next European Championship comes around. I’m fairly ok with that, although it will have a feeling of more of a Champions League competition involving everyone and anyone, rather than the very best who came out on top of their qualifying groups. There is a paradox with all of that, though, as I struggle to place the term “best” with a number of the teams who did qualify for the final 16 of this summer’s competition.
But what about spreading it around Europe rather than concentrated in one or two nations? Again, it’s all very Champions League-y. You lose the atmosphere of an international tournament, and someone surely has to have considered the time difference across Europe?
The economic climate is sure to play a hand a many voting in favour of this. There has to be a genuine question as to how many countries can really afford to prepare themselves to host a tournament on the scale of the Euros. With the chance of participating only through the inclusion of one host stadium and the need to upgrade only one city, this could be a starter. Again, it’s worth touching on the fact that is it a fairly interesting idea from Uefa. It at least garners some thought as to how the whole tournament would play out.
However, the significant pros and cons come in to play with the fans. There should be absolutely no belief in the idea that Uefa are looking out for the best interest of the fans or ways to improve their experience. If more money can be made by driving away the real supporters who aren’t interested in splashing out on all sorts of nonsense in a (Uefa licensed, of course) gift shop, then so be it.
How far will fans have to travel if their country is playing in at least three different host cities spread around Europe? If Uefa are looking to tackle the economic problem head on in favour of the host nations, then there is absolutely no concern of the costs from the supporters. Well to be fair, he did touch on it; RyanAir, Eurostar and all that. But I stand by what I said.
An upside is that fans in England may actually get to take part in the hosting of an international football tournament. Wembley, Old Trafford, The Emirates. The infrastructure is in place and there would be very little cost in the co-co-co-co-and-so-on hosting of a tournament. However, it does smack a little of an evil plan primarily to ensure England never host a football tournament again. I really wouldn’t put it past Platini as that being his only goal.
Finally, how will the players suffer? A flight from Russia to Portugal isn’t exactly ideal ahead of a semifinal. But again, there seems to be little consideration in that department from Uefa. There’s also the whole issue of bringing football to the rest of the world and allowing the tournament to play a significant role for the future of host nations. Well that would be going out the window.
It is a fun idea, and I’m sure most would like to know that those at Uefa towers are doing something creative with their time outside of rubbishing racism, appointing incompetent referees and fining Arsene Wenger for wearing an ugly tie.
There does seem a genuine interest to add something different to the competition and truly give it an international feel. But at this stage, it appears many have caught on to the fact that it just wouldn’t be a great idea to put into practise. Decent idea. Two thumbs up for effort. But not for me.