Wales and Scotland abandon Euro 2016 bid, Italy considers bid

March 3rd, 2009 - 4:54 pm ICT by IANS  

London, March 3 (DPA) Scotland and Wales have abandoned plans for a joint bid to host the 2016 European Championships, but Italy said they were thinking about bidding for the tournament.
The president of the Italian football federation (FIGC) Giancarlo Abete said during a radio show that his organization was considering a bid and would discuss it Monday.

“Italy are naturally interested,” Abete said, “because, on the one hand, we cannot ignore big events and, on the other hand, we must stimulate ways to give confidence and investment possibilities to our football.

“The deadline for the bid is March 9. We’ll talk about it (during Monday’s meeting of the FIGC council).”

Abete, who headed the Italian delegation at the successful World Cup 2006 campaign, was elected FIGC president in April 2007. He said he will renew his candidacy at the election to be held this year.

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) meanwhile said late Sunday that the economic downturn and increased costs arising from UEFA’s decision to expand the tournament to 24 teams made the bid unaffordable.

“After careful consideration, the Football Association of Wales and the Scottish Football Association (SFA) have decided not to make a joint bid to host the Euro 2016 Football Championships,” a statement on the Welsh federation’s website said.

A SFA spokesman said: “The infrastructure required for the new expanded tournament makes it extremely difficult for us to even consider hosting. Quite apart from the stadia required, the pressure on transport, training camps and accommodation would be massive.”

The only ground in Wales that currently meets UEFA’s requirements for a major event is Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

Deputy First Minister and Minister for Economy and Transport Ieuan Wyn Jones said the money required was excessive.

“The cost of bringing other venues up to this standard would run into tens of millions of pounds,” he said.

“In the current economic and financial climate, this is unaffordable.”

Federations have until March 9 to apply to host Euro 2016, but so far only France has submitted an application.

SFA head of communications Rob Shorthouse told BBC Radio 5 that the expansion of the tournament meant only Europe’s largest nations would in future be able to act as hosts.

“The only country that’s put their name forward so far to host the championships in 2016 is France, so it shows you that it’s the big nations that are going to be bidding for these championships in future,” he said.

“We always knew it was going to be difficult. We always said as soon as the championship was expanded to 24 teams that would immediately rule us out of ever doing it of by ourselves and it would only ever be a joint bid.”

UEFA decided last year that, beginning with the 2016 edition, the number of teams taking part in the final phase will be expanded from 16 to 24.

The Swedish and Norwegian football federations recently announced they would be making a joint bid for Euro 2016, while Turkey, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Russia and Italy have all expressed an interest.

Austria and Switzerland hosted Euro 2008, while the 2012 tournament is also to be jointly hosted, by Poland and Ukraine.

After evaluating the candidate countries, UEFA is to issue a final decision at the end of May 2010.

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