BERLIN (Reuters) - A plan to stage the 2020 European soccer championships across the entire continent instead of one or two countries enjoys wide support among national federations, Germany’s football association (DFB) said on Tuesday.
Ahead of two days of meetings in Brussels with European soccer’s governing body UEFA, DFB General Secretary Helmut Sandrock said they were initially surprised by UEFA boss Michel Platini’s concept.
The proposal, yet to be ratified by the UEFA executive committee, could see 12 countries hosting an expanded tournament involving 24 teams, up from the current 16.
“We were surprised when we first heard the idea,” Sandrock told ZDF television before departing for Brussels.
“But I myself had discussions to learn more about this idea and we know that there have been two strategy discussions with national federations already and there is a lot of support for such a Euro tournament,” Sandrock said.
“We discussed this idea at the DFB as we had supported the Turkey 2020 bid but we know there is wide support from our partners in Europe (for Platini’s pan).”
Turkey have expressed a wish to stage the tournament on a conventional, single-country basis but their bid will be dropped if Istanbul is awarded the Olympics in the same year.
Scotland, Wales and Ireland have also declared their interest in staging the finals.
Platini had said in October he would press ahead with the idea, which will both ease the burden of hosting a bigger tournament than usual amid testing financial times as well as to celebrate UEFA’s 60th anniversary in 2020, only if member associations were in favour of the plan.
“I think a Euro across Europe offers a shorter road (of preparations),” Sandrock said. “Look at (2014 World Cup hosts)Brazil and the distance they need to cover.”
Brazil have repeatedly been urged to speed up preparations for the World Cup after delays in construction and organisation of the world’s biggest single sports event.
Editing by Alastair Himmer