Georgia to bid on Euro 2020 alone
By Ernest Petrosyan
Wednesday, May 16On May 14, Georgia submitted a formal expression of interest to the UEFA, to host the Euro 2020 football championship, Georgian Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Lado Vardzelashvili and President of the Georgian Football Federation Zviad Sichinava announced on Tuesday.
As Vardzelashvili clarified, negotiations had been underway with Azerbaijan, but that country decided to focus on a bid for the 2020 Olympic Games.
“Azerbaijan has made a bid to host the Olympics… So Georgia will continue bidding for Euro 2020 independently,” Vardzelashvili said at a news conference on May 15, adding that Georgia was already making steps to meet UEFA criteria.
The Minister said that construction of an “ultra-modern stadium” will start this year in Batumi. Georgia is also planning to build new stadiums in Gori, Ozurgeti, and Zugdidi.
A major overhaul of stadiums in Tbilisi and Kutaisi is also planned, he said.
As of today, Georgia does not meet UEFA requirements which says that hosting country should have at least two, 50,000-seat stadiums, three 40,000-seat stadiums, and four 30,000-seat stadiums.
Currently, Tbilisi boasts the Boris Paichadze National Stadium, with a capacity of 55,000, and the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium, which has a capacity of 25,000. Kutaisi stadium’s capacity is 18,000.
Turkey has also made a formal bid to host the UEFA European Football Championship; Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland had also signaled interest, but did not submit formal declarations.
The European football governing body, UEFA, set a deadline of midnight last night for declarations of interest.
In his address to the Azeri Parliament on March 7, President Saakashvili announced that Georgia and Azerbaijan had agreed to submit a joint bid to host Euro 2020. But some Azeri officials later said that the issue was not decided, as Baku was also interested in the Olympics.