‘Bit­ter dis­ap­point­ment’ as Wales loses 2020 games

Western Mail - - NEWS - Do­minic Booth and Ian Mitchel­more news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk » More: Sport

FOOT­BALL fans and politi­cians spoke of their “bit­ter dis­ap­point­ment” last night af­ter Wales missed out on host­ing Euro 2020 matches in Cardiff.

Uefa chiefs con­firmed yes­ter­day that Wem­b­ley had been cho­sen over Cardiff ’s Prin­ci­pal­ity Sta­dium and Stockholm’s Friends Arena.

The de­ci­sion was an­nounced by Uefa pres­i­dent Alek­sander Ce­ferin, as Wem­b­ley – which is al­ready stag­ing the com­pe­ti­tion’s fi­nal and semi­fi­nals – was se­lected to host three group games and a last-16 en­counter that had been planned for Brussels. It means the Lon­don venue will stage a to­tal of seven games in the tour­na­ment.

Brussels will not be a host city due to con­cerns about its Eurosta­dium build­ing, con­struc­tion of which has yet to get un­der way.

The Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion of Wales yes­ter­day said it was “ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed” with the news, and has re­quested feed­back from Uefa.

The an­nounce­ment was met with dis­ap­point­ment at the de­ci­sion not to bring tour­na­ment matches to Cardiff de­spite its track record of host­ing ma­jor sports events in re­cent years.

Cardiff coun­cil leader Huw Thomas said on so­cial me­dia: “I can’t pre­tend I’m not bit­terly dis­ap­pointed with Uefa’s Euro 2020 de­ci­sion.

“Cardiff has one of the best sta­di­ums in the world, a match­day ex­pe­ri­ence sec­ond to none, and wel­com­ing res­i­dents, pas­sion­ate about their sport. The tour­na­ment is poorer with­out us.”

In a sep­a­rate state­ment, Coun­cil­lor Thomas added: “Cardiff has a proven track record of host­ing pres­ti­gious sporting events, most re­cently with the Uefa Cham­pi­ons League Fi­nal in June, which was the big­gest sporting event in the world in 2017.

“Al­though we are dis­ap­pointed with the de­ci­sion, we will work with the FAW to re­quest feed­back on our bid. We wish the FA and Wem­b­ley Sta­dium ev­ery suc­cess in host­ing the games that could have come to Cardiff.”

Peter Brad­bury, Cardiff coun­cil’s cabi­net mem­ber for cul­ture and leisure, said: “As a foot­ball fan my­self. it’s very dis­ap­point­ing to hear that we have missed out.

“It’s a real shame fans won’t get to ex­pe­ri­ence the truly unique at­mos­phere that only Cardiff can gen­er­ate on oc­ca­sions like this.”

First Min­is­ter Car­wyn Jones: “While it is deeply dis­ap­point­ing that we have missed out on be­ing a Euro 2020 host, I am con­fi­dent that the Welsh team will make a big im­pact on the tour­na­ment, as we did last sum­mer in France.

“Wales has played host to many very suc­cess­ful ma­jor sporting events in re­cent years and stands ready to do so again.”

Sec­re­tary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said: “This is un­der­stand­ably a ma­jor dis­ap­point­ment for Cardiff but I hope that the city can take heart in the fact that we put to­gether a fan­tas­tic bid.

“I worked hard to en­sure that the UK Gov­ern­ment was able to pro­vide the guar­an­tees that Uefa needed to make this hap­pen and my team worked very closely with FA Wales, so I am par­tic­u­larly sad that we were un­suc­cess­ful.

“How­ever our cap­i­tal city has al­ready demon­strated that it can suc­cess­fully host ma­jor global sporting events and I am con­fi­dent that we will be able to bid for many more in the fu­ture.”

James Watkins, 37, founder of sup­port­ers’ band The Barry Horns, said: “Uefa have gone against the concept of the tour­na­ment. [Former Uefa pres­i­dent Michel] Pla­tini’s idea was to share out the matches be­tween the coun­tries of Europe. In­stead, the al­lo­ca­tion of games epit­o­mises noth­ing but greed.”

Andy Sten­ning

> Sam Vokes cel­e­brates his goal against Bel­gium dur­ing the Euro 2016 cham­pi­onships

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