Euro 2020 has asked a lot of mental gymnastics from its fans this summer.
Controversial Euro 2020 format
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the European Championships, UEFA made the bizarre decision in 2012 that the tournament would be held across the continent as opposed to a lone host nation.
It was a break from tradition that had plenty of detractors at the time, but arguably more so now that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more difficult for players and fans to transcend borders.
However, perhaps the most controversial facet of UEFA’s system has been how certain countries have been able to play a large proportion of their games on home soil.
Saul Niguez to Liverpool FEE AGREED (Football Terrace)
Has it benefited England?
It’s an inconvenient fact that is perpetuated by England‘s success in the tournament because both semi-finals and the final are being staged at the Three Lions’ home: Wembley Stadium.
Not only that, but England’s fellow semi-finalists of Italy, Spain and Denmark all shared the common benefit of having been able to play all three of their group games at a native arena.
The extent to which this system has benefited nations like England is ultimately impossible to gauge, but you can forgive fans for thinking that UEFA’s tact isn’t really a fair handling of things.
And it’s an opinion that appears to be shared by none other than the UEFA president himself, who has suggested this week that the decision of his predecessor, Michel Platini, was an unfair one.
UEFA president says ‘it is not fair’
Aleksander Ceferin openly admitted that the Euro 2020 system has been unfair to supporters and floated the idea that varying travel distances between nations was similarly improper.
“I would not support it anymore,” Ceferin said to BBC Sport. “In a way, it is not correct that some teams have to travel more than 10,000km while others have to only travel 1,000km.
“It is not fair to fans, who had to be in Rome one day and in Baku over the next few, which is a four and a half hour flight.
“We had to travel a lot, into countries with different jurisdictions, different currencies, countries in the European Union (EU) and Non-EU, so it was not easy.
“It was a format that was decided before I came [into post] and I respect it. It is an interesting idea but it is hard to implement and I don’t think we will do it again.”
Varying travel distances
The disparity between the distance travelled by nations at Euro 2020 is clear for all to see with Switzerland having racked up an astonishing 15,485km (9,622 miles) across just five games.
Meanwhile, Scotland accumulated the smallest mileage at 1,108km (688 miles), while England’s total would, in effect, be nothing at all if it wasn’t for their quarter-final clash in Rome.
Marry that to the carnage of having 16 teams qualify from the group stages, which necessitates a chaotic ordering of third-place outfits, and it’s clear to see why so many fans are frustrated.
However, supporters can at least find solace in the fact that the UEFA president himself has also been displeased and that Euro 2024 will return to a host nation format with Germany taking over.