Can a Soccer Tournament Revive Cities Across Europe?

Henry Grabar celebrates the recent decision by UEFA, European soccer's governing body, to hold their 2020 tournament in cities across the continent, rather than in one or two countries as has been the tradition.
December 13, 2012, 9am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Even if UEFA's decision hasn't been popular with fans, some of whom labeled it "Euro 2020: Sponsored by RyanAir," Grabar believes the novel format for a "Euro for Europe" could help spread the positive benefits associated with such events, without the financial risk commonly required. "The European Championship, like the Olympics and the World Cup, requires its hosts to make massive investments in infrastructure," says Grabar. "The value of such competitions, with their immediate benefits and deferred costs, is a matter of debate, particularly when it comes to the oft-unused sporting facilities."

"Hopefully," he argues, "the new format will see improvements in transportation and facilities spread out among cities in a half-dozen countries, easing the financial burden, dividing the benefits, and opening up the scope of the competition. For the first time we could see matches of huge importance in Sofia, Dublin, Tallinn, Copenhagen, or other cities in small countries. By splitting the costs into more manageable portions, the Euro for Europe gives smaller countries a chance to compete."

Grabar even believes the format could improve the fan experience and the product on the pitch. "The advantages of such a situation aren't just economic for the hosts and visitors alike. Making it easier for the majority of fans to attend games would improve the quality of the tournament. A truly neutral venue is the bane of an exciting match."

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Published on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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