Welsh anger over Euro snub

WARNOCK PRE­PARED TO WAIT AS STAR MAN ZO­HORE MAY NOT BE BACK UN­TIL THE NEW YEAR

Western Mail - - SPORT - Paul Ab­ban­do­nato Head of Sport paul.ab­ban­do­nato@waleson­line.co.uk

AN­GRY Wales ad­mit they have lost their “one and only chance” of host­ing a ma­jor fi­nals af­ter Uefa’s shock de­ci­sion to award ex­tra Euro 2020 matches to neigh­bours Eng­land.

The FA of Wales have ex­pressed their ‘ex­treme dis­ap­point­ment’ at miss­ing out and have called for top-level feed­back from Uefa about how the con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion was reached.

The FAW were con­fi­dent they had pre­sented a com­pelling case for Cardiff ’s Prin­ci­pal­ity Sta­dium as an al­ter­na­tive to Brussels, whose own new Eurosta­dium project meant they had to be with­drawn as one of the 13 host cities for the tour­na­ment.

Wales thought it was a straight fight be­tween Cardiff and Stockholm, with an out­side chance that Wem­b­ley would be cho­sen.

In the end. Uefa went with Wem­b­ley, mean­ing the home of English foot­ball gets to stage SEVEN matches – four group games, a last-16 tie, plus the semi-fi­nals and fi­nals they al­ready had been al­lo­cated.

Wales feel the de­ci­sion goes against the spirit of the tour­na­ment, which is meant to be spread through­out a con­ti­nent in lots of host cities as a cel­e­bra­tion of the 60th an­niver­sary of the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships.

Part of the cel­e­bra­tion, they felt, was the op­por­tu­nity for smaller foot­balling na­tions to be handed unique op­por­tu­ni­ties to stage the fi­nals.

In a strongly-worded state­ment, the FAW said: “Wales has never staged a Euro or World Cup Fi­nals and this was its one and only chance of do­ing so. The FAW com­plied with the bid re­quire­ments and has writ­ten to Uefa to re­quest feed­back on the de­ci­sion so that it can un­der­stand the rea­sons be­hind the vote for fu­ture ref­er­ence.”

The Welsh Gov­ern­ment and Cardiff Coun­cil were amongst the part­ners strongly sup­port­ing the Prin­ci­pal­ity Sta­dium bid.

“The FAW and its stake­hold­ers are ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed with the news that its bid to se­cure four Euro 2020 matches has been un­suc­cess­ful,” read the state­ment.

“Over the past four years, Wales has suc­cess­fully staged three Uefa events – firstly, the Uefa Su­per Cup Fi­nal in 2014, fol­lowed by the Uefa Men’s and Women’s Cham­pi­ons League Fi­nals in June this year.

“Uefa ranked the Cham­pi­ons League Fi­nal as one of their best events and talked up the way in which the Cardiff 2017 Lo­cal Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee de­liv­ered the show­piece.

“The concept of tak­ing Euro 2020 to 13 dif­fer­ent coun­tries was de­vised to en­able smaller coun­tries, like Wales, to have a unique op­por­tu­nity of be­ing in­volved in stag­ing a ma­jor tour­na­ment.

“The FAW wishes the FA and Wem­b­ley Sta­dium the very best for Euro 2020, which it sure to be a fan­tas­tic tour­na­ment.

“The FAW will fully con­cen­trate its ef­forts on en­sur­ing that the Wales na­tional team has the very best op­por­tu­nity to qual­ify for and par­tic­i­pate at Euro 2020.”

While the de­ci­sion has come as a ham­mer blow to Wales, Swe­den and Bel­gium, it is a ma­jor coup for the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion, Lon­don and Wem­b­ley, which hosted sev­eral games in the 1996 tour­na­ment.

FA chief ex­ec­u­tive Martin Glenn said: “We are de­lighted to help Uefa by host­ing the ex­tra four matches at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium.

“It’s an hon­our to be one of the 12 na­tions that will play a part in this pres­ti­gious ‘EURO for Europe’ tour­na­ment and I would like to thank the Uefa ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee for giv­ing us the op­por­tu­nity to stage these games.”

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