Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Euro 2012 hosting the lesser of 3 evils

This week the host for the European Nations Cup 2012 will be decided, and from the three candidates it looks like it will be a choice of the lesser of 3 poor choices.

The three sites bidding are:

  • Italy
  • Poland/Ukraine
  • Hungary/Croatia
When these nations came together to bid for the tournament it appeared to be some solid choices. However all three bids have some serious flaws.

  • Italy - They have added a fourth star to their kits after winning the World Cup last year. However that might be the only positive the soccer crazed nation enjoys. Some might argue they should not even have been in the World Cup after a terrible match fixing scandal that impacted some of their most storied clubs. The subsequent punishment for these clubs was ridiculous. AC Milan which lobbied to be allowed back into the Champions League now finds themselves one step away from the finals. What kind of punishment is that? Juventus, the most punished of the clubs, is easily going to be back in Serie A next season, with minimal attrition in its ranks. Finally, add the tragedies suffered in Italian games this season, the rampant racism and the heavy handed tactics used in Champions League games and this calls into question how much control the Italian FA has on its own domestic product. Unless they show some real improvements (hard to imagine any improvements between today and Weds!), their hosting might be on very shaky ground.
  • Poland/Ukraine - On the surface this would be a good joint hosting. Both nations made the last World Cup with Ukraine making the 1/4 finals. It would be good for football to have one of its showcase events in Eastern Europe, in the middle of former communist block nations. The main issue is political, Ukraine is in the midst of serious political turmoil, and the current political situation in Poland is not sitting in the best of lights. While much might and will change between now and 2012, does UEFA want to take a chance that it changes for the worse?
  • Hungary/Croatia - This is an interesting pairing. Hungary has fallen off the face of international football for a long time, having trouble living up to the standards set by the Flying Magyars. They have not come close to qualifying for a major tournament since they made it to the World Cup in 1986! Croatia has fared much better in international play, but racism is an issue that continues to rear its ugly head in former Yugoslavia.
So who will it be? I think that the Hungary/Croatia bid will fail due to the weakness of Hungarian football. UEFA cannot afford to have one the host nations fare poorly in such a showcase tournament....then again not sure Austria will do much better when they host next summer! Ukraine/Poland would be intriguing but not sure the political issues will ensure they get the infrastructure in place for the tournament. So by default, I think Italy will get the hosting rights.

UEFA will put a lot of pressure of the Italians to shape up their domestic issues and point to 2012 as an opportunity to unveil the new and improved Italian FA....lets hope the Italians are up to the challenge.

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