Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Italy positive after Euro 2016 meeting

Italy is counting on UEFA President Michel Platini's professionalism preventing any favoritism in the race to host the 2016 UEFA European Championships.

UEFA Euro 2016 - Italy CandidateAlong with Italy, Platini's native France and Turkey are also bidding for the newly-expanded 24-team tournament, with the host nation set to be appointed at a May 28 meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

A UEFA delegation wrapped up a two-day visit to Italy on Tuesday with a Government reception at Palazzo Chigi, which houses the office of Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

The delegation was led by UEFA Executive Committee member and National Team Competitions Committee chairman Gilberto Madail, and Giorgio Marchetti, UEFA Competitions Director.

They met with representatives of the Italian government, including Undersecretary to the Prime Minister Gianni Letta and Sports Minister Rocco Crimi, and also with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) President Gianni Petrucci, Italian Football Federation (FIGC) President Giancarlo Abete, Lega Calcio President Maurizio Beretta and the mayors of the 12 candidate cities.

"I think Platini is a great man and President, and as UEFA's head he should want to make sure that the choice is made in the interests of the organisation he is in charge of," FIGC President Abete said.

"We have two important opponents — France and Turkey — who present different characteristics. (France) has a lot of tradition, just like Italy, and Turkey is a country that wants to organise an international event to improve their integration with Europe.

"But Italy has its cards to play and that's what we're doing."

Italy has not hosted a major football tournament since the 1990 FIFA World Cup, and hosting the Euros would help the country renovate many of its dilapidated stadiums, with three new stadiums planned and the others facing major reconstruction work.

Concerns in Italy include fan violence and the ongoing trial related to the 2006 Calciopoli scandal, which is threatening to explode again.

"We're still in the evaluation phase of the dossier, but the meeting was positive and we'll be able to make more considerations after May 15 when UEFA publishes its evaluation report," Abete added.

Undersecretary Letta praised the country for its togetherness: "Italy spoke with one voice and in a united manner," he said. "The candidature is serious, harmonic and unique. We also think that the archaeology, landscape and climate adds extra value.

"All this, added to our sporting merits, can show the country in a good light. We answered all the questions which we were asked by the UEFA commission."

No official announcement has been given on the status of the law regarding stadium ownership, but Minister for Sports Crimi confirmed the "strong will amongst the political forces to approve the law as quickly as possible" as it goes through the legislative procedures in Parliament.

Lega Calcio President Beretta underlined the importance of the law and bringing Euro 2016 to Italy: "As a representative of football clubs, we believe strongly in this project to construct a new generation of facilities for Euro 2016, that would represent a great technological leap for the clubs.

"The opportunity to host the European Championship, the first with 24 teams, will be a great opportunity not only in sporting terms but also economically in a country that consumes football."

CONI President Gianni Petrucci offered his full support: "CONI will do everything possible to be alongside the Football Federation and Abete, who we have great confidence in, to win this bid."

Source: AP / FIGC / Lega Calcio / CONI / Governo

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