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For Euro 2020, Bucharest set as tournament enters new territory

"The draw for the Europe-wide Euro 2020 tournament takes place in Bucharest on Saturday"

“It was an idea championed by ex-UEFA president Michel Platini, before his four-year ban from the game, as a way of marking the 60th anniversary of the first European Championship in 1960”

Bucharest hosts the draw for Euro 2020 on Saturday with the fates of World Cup holders France and reigning European champions Portugal providing the greatest interest just over six months before the start of what is a controversial tournament.

The coaches of all qualified nations will be in attendance for the draw ceremony beginning at 1700 GMT (7pm local time) at the Romexpo exhibition centre in Romania's capital, which will host four matches at the finals.

For the first, and surely only, time, this European Championship -- the second to feature 24 teams -- is being held in 12 cities in 12 different European nations from June 12 to July 12, with the semi-finals and final taking place at Wembley in London.

The need to ensure qualified host nations get to play at least two matches at home means some teams already know which group they will be in.

For instance, four of the six top seeds are hosting games, with Ukraine and Belgium the only exceptions. However, the decision to keep Ukraine and Russia apart for diplomatic and security reasons has had an impact on the Belgians.

Indeed, the draw will take place without all 24 finalists being known, with the last four spots going to the play-off winners.

Matches will be played from Dublin and Bilbao to Saint Petersburg and Baku. Italy will host the opening game in Rome, and they are one of the top seeds, as are England, Germany and Spain.

Meanwhile, France lurk in Pot Two alongside a revived Netherlands, while 2016 winners Portugal sit in the third pot

It is therefore possible that France will find themselves in the same group as Italy, Portugal and Wales. England, meanwhile, could also find themselves in the same group as France and Portugal.

Then again, if they were to qualify in second or third place in their group, it is possible they could end up having to go to Saint Petersburg or to Baku, by the Caspian Sea, for a quarter-final.

The concept has left European football's governing body open to criticism about the tournament's impact on climate change.

UEFA have estimated 405,000 tonnes of carbon emissions will be produced by travelling fans and staff and in response have promised to invest in "emission reduction projects".

AFP
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