World Soccer governing body President Sepp Blatter congratulated his European counterpart on succeeding where deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Qadaffi failed.
A plan by UEFA President Michel Platini to split the 2020 European Championship across several nations was accepted yesterday by the Nyon, Switzerland-based organization’s board. Qadaffi failed in his attempt to get the Africa Nations Cup played throughout the continent. Qaddafi was killed by rebels after being deposed in an uprising last year.
“I got congratulations from the president of FIFA he said it is a marvelous idea,” Platini told reporters of Blatter’s reaction to the revamp of the 24-team European Championship. “He said somebody wanted to do it in Africa a few years ago and it was Qaddafi.”
The shakeup of the Euros is the biggest change in the tournament’s 52-year history. Poland and Ukraine co-hosted the quadrennial event earlier this year when 16 teams competed for a title won retained by Spain. The African championship was scheduled to be held in Libya in January before being moved to 2010 World Cup host South Africa because of security concerns.
“This is also an idea Mr. Qaddafi had some time ago, opening the Africa Cup of Nations to all of Africa,” Platini said at UEFA’s headquarters.
The tournament will probably revert to its old format after the 2020 finals, he said. The change is to mark the competition’s 60th anniversary and reduce the burden on a host country to shoulder all the costs of stadiums and transport links at a time of crisis in many European economies, he said.
Platini said the new format would mean fans experience better travel conditions than last time, when only “50 French and 70 Spanish” traveled. UEFA has consulted fans groups about the change, Platini said.
“We have some decisions to make now -- some political, some geographical -- for example we cannot have an English fan going to Lisbon, Kazakhstan and Sweden,” Platini said. “We will have an intelligent solution -- not chasing the fans all over Europe. The Euros are coming to the fans and taking matches to quite a number of countries.”
A decision on the host cities will be made in early 2014.
To contact the reporters on this story: Tariq Panja in Nyon, Switzerland, via the London newsroom at firstname.lastname@example.org
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