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UEFA has welcomed the interest shown by its member national associations in staging matches at UEFA EURO 2020 – the "EURO for Europe" that is set to excite football fans in various countries across the continent.
The European body revealed on Friday that 32 of its member associations have declared an interest in hosting games at the 2020 UEFA European Championship after meeting last week's deadline. The final tournament will be held in 13 cities throughout Europe, with candidates needing to submit their final bid dossier by 25 April 2014, and the UEFA Executive Committee taking its decision on the host cities on 25 September 2014.
"I think it's very good news that everyone has welcomed the idea, and that 32 countries want to take part in this great European football festival," said UEFA President Michel Platini after the latest UEFA Executive Committee meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia. "I understand completely, because you give the possibility to a country to take part with one major stadium, instead of having to build eight stadiums to participate. I think this is an important advantage."
"This is a very exciting project – the 'EURO for Europe' going to the fans in 13 different cities. We have had a great response, there is great interest all over Europe," UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino told UEFA.com. "Now the bidding countries will be invited to Nyon for a workshop in October, and then they have time to confirm their bids for the final city that they will bring forward to host either some matches or the final package, including the semi-finals."
Michel Platini also expressed satisfaction at the state of preparations for UEFA EURO 2016 in France. Last weekend marked 1,000 days to go before the tournament, which will be played in ten French cities between 10 June and 10 July 2016. "We have talented people at UEFA and EURO 2016 SAS looking after [the tournament] – people who have experience. I am sleeping peacefully, I have no worries," the UEFA President said.
Financial fair play is starting to have an impact, and the latest UEFA benchmarking report to be published is seen to reflect the positive effects that the measures – introduced to safeguard the long-term financial stability of European club football – are having. "Very encouraging conclusions," said Mr Infantino. "These conclusions are based on facts and figures and on audited accounts of around 700 clubs all over Europe, and show that we are really on the right track.
"For the first time in five years, the aggregate losses of the top division clubs in Europe decreased by over €600m [in the 2012 financial year]. There is still a lot to do, but the clubs have the message, they are implementing financial fair play," he added. "We always said it is about the future, about sustainability. It is a step-by-step process, so we are all working in this direction together, in partnership with the clubs, and we will get there."
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