Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Is it every Scot's patriotic duty to show an interest in an Under-23 match between Egypt and Belarus?

Intriguing news that UEFA have encouraged Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland to ponder the possibility of a joint bid for Euro 2020. As exciting as it will be to see the Commonwealth Games return to this country in two years' time, I think most people would agree that the European Championships are an even bigger event, and in any case would break completely new ground for Scotland in a way that hosting the Commonwealth Games again will not.

From what I vaguely recall of the reasons that the Scottish/Irish bid for Euro 2008 failed, though, there seemed to be an (inexplicable) perception at UEFA that supporters in this part of the world are too parochial to turn out for matches in which their own national team isn't involved. That puts an intriguing twist on the lack of interest that has been generated in the Olympic matches that will be played at Hampden this summer - three preliminary-stage matches in the men's competition, four preliminary-stage matches in the women's competition, and one women's quarter-final.

Of course the underwhelming response to date is entirely the fault of the English FA and the BOA, who through their cynical actions have somehow managed to engineer a situation in which it seems deeply unpatriotic for any Scottish football supporter to embrace any aspect of the Olympic football tournament, even where the Greater England team is not directly involved. But if we now know that UEFA's eyes are on us with a view to 2020, perhaps we should consider the bigger picture and realise just what a thrilling prospect that Under-23 showdown between Egypt and Belarus will be.


  1. Or not perhaps. I don't intend to watch a minute of any part of the Olympics never mind the U23 footie.

  2. Three host nations? Not quite sure how that would work. However, I suppose Hampden, Ibrox, Celtic Park and Murrayfield aren't enough stadiums for a whole tournament, and Pittodrie, Easter Road, Tyncastle and Tannadice probably aren't big enough (nor will the new Aberdeen stadium).

    Obviously Ireland has the Aviva stadium, but what else? Are Gaelic football matches held in pretty big stadiums? I'm guessing Wales are in there for the Millennium stadium, Swansea's ground and Cardiff's ground. Why aren't Scotland and Wales enough on their own?

    Ignoring all that though, doesn't it just make you feel that little bit closer to independence? Just a wee bit?

  3. "Are Gaelic football matches held in pretty big stadiums?"

    Yes, Croke Park is the fourth-largest stadium in Europe (well, according to Wikipedia!).

    I think under the old format, Scotland and Wales could have launched a bid on their own, but with the tournament expanded to 24 teams a third country would be required.

  4. Scotland/Ireland had a bid for Euro 2008 rejected at the first stage by UEFA. A number of reasons, one of them being the reliance on 3 stadiums in one small city (Glasgow).

  5. A bid needs 8-10 stadia: a certain number with a capacity over 50,000, so many over 40,000 and the rest over 30,000. (Can't remember the quantities, sorry.) So Hampden, Parkhead, Ibrox, Murrayfield and the Millennium would be fine, but you'd be struggling for the rest. Throw in Croke Park and the Aviva and you're nearly there.

    Do any other grounds in Scotland hold over 30K? Pittodrie certainly doesn't and I'm pretty sure Easter Road doesn't - what's the capacity at Tynecastle these days?

  6. Tynecastle is well below. Apart from Croke Park, Ireland has six other GAA stadia that are nominally above 30,000 capacity, but in some cases (possibly all) that's due to standing room, so they probably wouldn't be suitable.