London’s Wembley Stadium will hold four extra matches during the next European Championships, with the continent’s football tournament set to be further concentrated in the UK in the year after Brexit.
Uefa, the governing body of European football, plans to stage the Euro 2020 competition in 12 cities across the continent, including Munich, Rome, Dublin and St Petersburg. It has already awarded the final and semi-final of the tournament to the British capital, while Glasgow in Scotland will also host four matches.
On Thursday, Uefa said a further three group stage matches and one match from the first knockout round will also take place at Wembley. It was forced into the move after Brussels, the heart of European Union, lost the right to host matches because it was unable guarantee it will be able to build a new stadium in time.
“Together, we are determined to deliver open, inclusive and memorable events for the fans at one of the world’s greatest stadiums,” said Martin Glenn, chief executive of England’s Football Association.
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said the move represented a chance to show that “London is open” — a campaigning phrase he has used to show the UK capital will remain open for business following Britain’s decision to leave the EU, which takes effect in 2019.
“We look forward to welcoming some of the world’s best players and fans from around Europe and the world,” he said.
With a capacity of 90,000, Wembley will be the largest stadium to host games during the tournament and so represented the most lucrative alternative for Uefa once matches needed to be moved from Brussels.
However, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) said it was “extremely disappointed” that its bid to host the games at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff had been unsuccessful.
“The concept of taking Uefa Euro 2020 to 13 different countries was devised to allow smaller countries, like Wales, to have a unique opportunity of being involved in staging a major tournament,” the FAW said.
“Wales has never staged a Euro or World Cup final and this was its one and only chance of doing so.”