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UEFA to choose 13 cities as Euro 2020 hosts
By GRAHAM DUNBAR
Associated Press
2013-01-25 10:49 PM
UEFA decided Friday that the 2020 European Championship will be played in 13 countries, with each host providing a single stadium for the 24-team tournament.

In an effort to encourage smaller countries to join the project, the UEFA executive committee pledged to choose two stadiums holding as few as 30,000 spectators. Other stadiums must have a 50,000 capacity, which at least 20 of UEFA's 53 member nations already have.

After UEFA promised to ease the time and cost burden on travelling fans, it aims to impose a 2-hour flight limit between group-stage matches.

UEFA President Michel Platini said Turkey _ which had been favored to host Euro 2020 alone _ is his choice to host the final and both semifinals.

"As far as I am concerned, yes. For the other members, I don't know," Platini said, referring to his 16 board colleagues.

However, Platini ruled out a Turkish bid if Istanbul is chosen in September as the host of the 2020 Olympics, scheduled several weeks after the June football tournament.

"If they do get the Olympic Games then it is out of the question for Turkey to organize a match of the Euro," Platini said.

UEFA wants formal bids submitted in September, probably after the International Olympic Committee chooses Istanbul, Madrid or Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Games.

Euro 2020 host cities will be chosen in September 2014.

The final and semifinals will be played in a 70,000-plus stadium, and England's promised offer of Wembley Stadium will be a strong contender. Countries bidding for the final stages can also bid for an earlier package of four matches.

Twelve packages will be awarded to a stadium staging three group matches and one match in the knockout rounds.

UEFA said that each group can include a maximum of two hosts, playing two matches at home. Every country must qualify for the tournament with no direct entry for hosts.

With UEFA requiring hosts to begin building projects by 2016, some countries could invest in a new stadium then fail to qualify.

UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino said preference for the two smaller-stadium slots could be given to countries investing in a new home ground.

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