By Andrew Warshaw
December 4 – Brussels looks set to stripped as a host city for Euro 2020 this week with Stockholm likely to be parachuted in as a replacement.
Insideworldfootball understands UEFA’s executive committee has lost patience with Brussels’ pledge to deliver and are ready to pick Stockholm over the Belgian capital when they vote on Thursday to complete the 13-city line-up for the one-off pan-European finals that celebrate the 60th anniversary of the European Championship.
Brussels was one of the original venues chosen to host three group-stage games and a Round of 16 knockout match. But in September UEFA gave the Brussels authorities a two-month ultimatum to get their house in order after building work on the proposed 60,000-seater Eurostadium became entangled with political, infrastructural and administrative obstacles.
UEFA put Stockholm and Cardiff, both part of the initial bidding phase, on standby but the latter looks set to miss out on, compounding the heartbreak of Wales failing to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia.
Welsh FA officials have lobbied virtually every executive committee member including UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin but it seems their case will be thrown out despite having successfully hosted the Champions league final.
Wembley, already slated to host the semi-finals and final, had also been put on standby for early matches but it is understood Stockholm has done enough to get the nod.
UEFA officials are believed to have decided that with Wembley, Glasgow and Dublin already staging games, the tournament would be top-heavy with British and Irish venues if Cardiff is thrown into the mix. By contrast, Copenhagen is the only definite Scandinavian representative so far.
This has privately infuriated Welsh officials who believe they submitted a far stronger technical bid than the Swedes whose stadium will hold far fewer spectators. Wales also upset all the odds to reach the Euro 2016 semi-finals but that will not apparently carry enough weight.
“It would be a shame if Thursday turns out to be a political and geographical decision,” said one high-ranking Welsh official. “It’s our one and only chance of staging part of a major national team finals. It would send this country ballistic.”
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