Italy learn from mistakes for Euro 2016 bid

MILAN - Italy's bid for Euro 2016 has been so low profile that many Italians do not even know the country is in the running.

Behind the scenes though, Italian football federation officials have been touring Europe trying to garner support from other associations in the face of competition from France and Turkey.

A final big push for Friday's vote in Geneva will also involve former Italy and AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini, one of the most respected figures in the game, as bid ambassador.

The Italians were bitterly disappointed to miss out in the bidding for Euro 2012, especially as UEFA decided to take a gamble on Ukraine and Poland rather than rely on a footballing super power.

Much soul-searching followed with Italy's ageing stadiums, mostly unchanged since the 1990 World Cup, and problems with fan violence being blamed for the defeat. Trying to resolve these issues has been fundamental to the work on the 2016 bid.

A new law going through Italy's parliament is designed to make it easier for new stadiums to be built while a crackdown on domestic football violence has been largely successful with better stewarding enforced.

Bid officials feel the work done to improve fan behaviour reflects favourably compared with their rivals.

"France and Turkey have had examples of violence this season linked to football, indeed with a death in France and one in Turkey," Italian bid director Michele Uva told reporters.

"Our bid is strong as it is about infrastructure and the great welcome of the Italian people which would make Euro 2016 unforgettable."

Italian media outlets have only had snippets of coverage of the bid as the country tries to limit expectations to avoid disappointment again.


The bid only really caused a stir early on in the process when federation president Giancarlo Abete talked up the possibility of a joint proposal with France given the competition is being expanded to 24 teams but the idea was quickly forgotten.

Bari, Cagliari, Cesena, Florence, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Parma, Rome, Turin, Udine and Verona have been selected as 12 potential host cities which would be whittled down to nine for the tournament.

New stadiums are due in Turin, Sardinian capital Cagliari and Sicilian capital Palermo while all others will be renovated.

Inter Milan have been mulling the idea of a new stadium but the 80,000-seater San Siro which they share with AC Milan is the arena included in the bid.

Rome's Stadio Olimpico, which hosted the 2009 Champions League final and also holds 80,000, would hold the Euro 2016 final.

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