Euro 2020 bidding interest arrives from across the region
ZURICH (Reuters) - A host of cities from Oslo to Baku registered an interest in staging matches at Euro 2020 ahead of Thursday night's UEFA deadline.
European soccer's ruling body is expected to confirm the candidate cities at an executive committee meeting in Dubrovnik on September 20 before choosing the host venues in a year's time.
Twelve cities will be awarded a package of three group games plus one knockout-stage game from the round-of-16 or quarter-finals.
A special 13th package, consisting of the semi-finals and final, will be awarded. Countries present up to two bids each, one for the knockout matches and one for the final package.
Cities had to declare an interest rather than submit a concrete bid before Thursday's deadline.
Belgrade, Budapest, Sofia, Prague, Munich, Basel, Athens, Stockholm, Amsterdam and St Petersburg have said they intend to put their names forward to be part of UEFA's ambitious new-look tournament that will be spread across the region for the first time.
Italy, which launched failed bids for Euro 2012 and 2016, will bid to host group stage matches plus a knockout tie but have yet to decide between Rome and Milan, a federation spokesman said.
The Turkish Football Federation, which had bid to host the whole tournament before UEFA decided to change the format, said it had put forward a bid to host the semi-finals and final in Istanbul.
The required stadium capacities would be 70,000 for the semi-finals and final, 60,000 for the quarter-finals and 50,000 for the group stage and round-of-16 matches, although two exceptions would be made where 30,000 capacity venues are permitted.
"We have made UEFA aware we are interested, that is correct," Norwegian FA communications director Svein Graff told Reuters by telephone when asked if Oslo's Ullevaal stadium would be a candidate.
Swedish FA spokesman Goran Havik said in a text: "We have put forward the Friends Arena (in Stockholm) as a candidate for a package of three group games and one of the matches in the last 16."
The Dutch football association KNVB, which jointly hosted the 2000 tournament with Belgium, said in a statement that Amsterdam would join the race while there has also been plenty of interest from Eastern Europe.
The Czech FA said it would apply by the deadline, although Prague must build a new 30,000-seater stadium, while the Serbian FA has put forward Belgrade but has not decided which venue would be used.
Last month Bulgaria's Socialist-led government threw its weight behind a possible bid by Sofia.
The Itar-Tass news agency said on Thursday that St Petersburg would bid to host three group stage matches and one quarter-final. Russia is already hosting the 2018 World Cup.
Azerbaijan, which last year hosted the women's under-17 world championship, announced its intention to bid in May.
Israel, boosted by its hosting of this year's European under-21 championship, will bid for one of the group stage packages and plans to stage matches at Jerusalem's 32,000-capacity Teddy Kollek, the FA said.
A Greek FA spokesman confirmed it would put forward the Athens Olympic Stadium, which hosted the 2004 Games and the 2007 Champions League final, as a candidate venue.
(Additional reporting by Phil O'Connor in Stockholm, Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade, Mark Gleeson in Cape Town, Ori Lewis in Tel Aviv, Jan Lopatka in Prague, Graham Wood in Athens, Terry Daley in Rome; Editing by Toby Davis)
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