Euro 2012 – Ukraine and Poland

May 30, 2008


Filed under: World Soccer — Ivan @ 2:42 am

The football season in domestic European leagues is over and national cup finals have all been played out, which can mean only one thing – it is summer and time for Euro 2008, hosted by Austria and Switzerland on June 7 to 29.

Every four years, Europe’s best teams come together for the European championship finals to decide who will hold the title of the continent’s best. The winner gets the bragging rights and the Henry Delaunay trophy, named after the French secretary general of Uefa, the game’s governing body in Europe, who tirelessly promoted the idea, but did not live to see it become reality.

Even though much has been written about club tournaments – the bigger European leagues and the Champions League – eclipsing international football, the European championships have always raked in solid crowds and high viewer ratings for the television companies, second only to the World Cup. As a consequence, the race to host the tournament is highly contested, with seven different bidders having vied for the 2008 tournament. Austria and Switzerland won the honour, ahead of Hungary and the joint bid by Greece and Turkey, who also made the final cut. It will be only for the second time in 13 editions that two countries are organising the event together, with the Netherlands and Belgium doing so in 2000.

Since the European championship finals format change in 1996, when the number of participants doubled to 16, and with another change to raise the figure to 24 being discussed by Uefa, the trend for multiple countries picked looks to continue. With Portugal, who hosted the event in 2004, not yet fully recovering its expenses to upgrade stadium infrastructure, tandem bids offer the opportunity to reduce costs and raise overall revenues, both from the tournament itself and from increased tourist interest in its aftermath. The tournament in 2012 will be held in Poland and Ukraine.

The event’s high profile and numerous sponsorships have allowed Uefa to also increase prize money by more than 40 per cent to 184 million euro. Just for appearing in the tournament, the football federations of the 16 countries will receive 7.5 million euro, with additional bonuses awarded for wins, draws and reaching the later stages of the competition. The winners will receive a guaranteed 20 million euro, rising to 23 million euro if they also win each of their group stage matches.

After two years of qualifying, the field of challengers has been narrowed to 14 teams, who are joined by the two host countries. Split into four groups of four, the teams will play each other once, with the top two in each group advancing to the knockout stage. With a week left before the start of the tournament, the teams involved are busy with final preparations – trimming down their squads to the maximum of 23 players allowed, playing last-minute friendlies to keep those players fit and trying out new line-ups and tactics. Participants will arrive at their respective headquarters between June 1 and June 5, with most teams scheduling at least one training session open to the public. Only Germany and Poland opted to train behind closed doors throughout the tournament. Spain is their polar opposite, offering a limited number of fans the opportunity to watch them train every day.

And fans there shall be aplenty. Hundreds of thousands will make the pilgrimage to the two Alpine countries to watch the games and those without tickets – to submerge themselves in the live atmosphere. It is unquestionably the football event of the year and the second biggest sports event, topped only by the Beijing Summer Olympics in August.

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