Posted: 9/7/2012


      I have often written about those brand new Olympic, FIFA World Cup and UEFA Championships stadiums built at great public expense for half a dozen prestigious matches or less, which then turn into White Elephants.

      The world is full of them, from Beijing's Bird's Nest, to Cape Town's Green Point stadium, plus many in Japan, South Korea and even Klagenfurt, Austria. Recently announced are the 5 stadiums for next January's 29th CAF Africa Cup of Nations, moved from Libya. FNB (Soccer City) Stadium in Johannesburg will host the Opening match and Final only. Other matches will be in Nelspruit(Mbombela Stadium) and Rustenburg(Royal Bafokeng Stadium) in the North, and Port Elizabeth(Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium) and Durban(Moses Mabhida Stadium) on the Indian Ocean.

      Neither Nelspruit nor Port Elizabeth have a SA Premier League club and are under used. Cape Town council refused to contribute $3US million and the local Prem team attracts crowds of a few thousand and is hardly used. As in previous such tournaments held every two years, very few foreign fans can afford to travel to matches. the winner will represent CAF at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.

      In 2016 the UEFA Championships will be held in France with 24 teams for the first time, up from the current 16 that we saw in Poland/Ukraine, which struggled to find 16 top quality squads. From 2020 onward its a problem. How many countries can afford to invest in the infrastructure needed for a three week show? Wales/Ireland/Scotland are considering a bid, so are Georgia/Azerbaijan while Turkey is concentrating instead on Istanbul's bid for the Summer Olympic Games after Rio de Janeiro.

      Michel Platini has an idea. Why not have sx countries each host a group of 4 teams each with a two city 'pod',with the two semi-finals and final being played in a large, easy to get to venue that is well used. Say Wembley Stadium, Olympiastadion Berlin, Allianz Arena Munich.

     We could have Oslo/Lillestrom; Helsinki/Tampere; Brussels/Antwerp; Amsterdam/Rotterdam; Lisbon/Oporto; Istanbul/Bursa; Belfast/Dublin; Glasgow/Edinburgh; Gothenburg/Malmo; Milan/Turin.

     One supporter of the Platini Plan is former DFB President Theo Zwanziger who is on the FIFA Executive Committee and is working on new FIFA statutes in governance reform. The 53 UEFA National Associations will meet in NYON in January 2013 to discuss the proposals and make a decision.