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Why Euro 2020 is a gamechanger for the future of mega tournaments?

Euro 2020 is the first pan-European football tournament since it will take place across various countries. UEFA distributed hosting rights with 11 different venues for the month-long tournament.

Euro 2020 was initially branded as the “Euros for Europe” in December 2012 by the then UEFA president Michel Platini. The sentiment behind the tournament being held across the continent is to mark the 60th anniversary of the tournament. However, former UEFA general secretary and current FIFA president Gianni Infantino also spoke about the benefit of streamlining the financial burden of hosting such a dense tournament across multiple countries instead of just one or two. The reason behind this move is best explained by his comments in 2012.

“This summer we saw a fantastic EURO in Poland and Ukraine, but the governments and the two countries had to do quite a lot in terms of infrastructure, airports, and stadiums. To give many cities and many countries the possibility to host even just one part of a EURO is certainly an excellent thing. Especially in times when you have an economic situation where you cannot expect countries to invest in facilities in the way that such an event requires.”

The process to win hosting rights involved each country bidding to become a host for select games competition but did not guarantee an automatic qualifying place for Euro 2020. Each of the cities that were interested in hosting the tournament went through a six-phase process. Countries that won the most votes across these phases were allotted games based on the package and the stadium capacity.

As we watch the Euro 2020 unfold this month, we can see all the moving parts of the tournament come to life. Critics and fans are surprised to see the competition materialize in this incredible fashion with almost no major logistical breakdowns, despite the pandemic. The tournament was delayed by a year due to the pandemic suggested that sticking with a pan-European arrangement would have needed a miracle to accomplish. It seems like what once looked like an unnecessarily convoluted idea has the potential to unite the footballing world when they need it most. The prize money for the tournament has also risen by €70 million euros, a 23% increase from Euro 2016 held in France.

With the success of a Pan – European tournament, even in such a challenging time, what should other international competitions adopt from this model, and how will it benefit the international Sporting community?

Most experts and sporting Industry professionals agree that the current method of conducting International Sporting tournaments is financially draining and inefficient. The pandemic has only made the current bidding system look worse. Copa America and the Olympics being the most recent examples, with uncertainty from sponsors and no solution for bringing back spectators. The future of Tokyo Olympics 2020 hangs in the balance and the Copa America faces massive protests as players continue to test positive in the tournament. The one-country host system has not worked, especially for events like the Olympics, as they overhit their budget and then fail to maintain the multi-million-dollar facilities built for the games after their completion.

Meanwhile, Tokyo Olympics will reportedly cost 22%  more due to delays from the pandemic, as it joins a long list of host cities that went over budget for hosting the Olympics. The city of Chicago felt the taste of the inefficiencies of the bidding process as they spent $100 million only to lose the hosting duties to Rio de Janeiro. Most experts have reportedly advised the Olympic committee about the much-needed change in the process. Some, even asking them to abolish the system to bring in a permanent host city with advanced-in-place facilities to remove the burden of hosting.

While the general consensus is that hosting international events is beneficial for the local economy and tourism, countries have understood the ‘true cost’ of hosting such events. As fewer and fewer nations put in their bid to host an event like the FIFA World Cup, Olympic Games, Euros, the event organizers must find a solution to this worsening problem. However, interested nations have possibly found a way to reduce their burden by launching joint bids. The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the first major tournament to be hosted by multiple countries, as the US, Mexico, and Canada won the joint bid. The trend looks to continue as countries continue to put in joint bids for future events. The success of the Euro 2020 could open an entirely new conversation towards the sustainability of these mega international events for the future, as organizations are now readily accepting joint bids.

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