Author: Nadir KHOSROVOGHLU
The capital of Azerbaijan hosts another major sports competition. This time it’s the European football championship. Azerbaijani fans experienced this excitement last year, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the competition was postponed to 2021. Thus, for the first time, the European championship began a year later than planned. The competition between the 24 strongest national teams of Europe is watched with interest not only in Europe, but also on all continents.
The idea of holding such a major competition in Baku appeared nine years ago. Due to the 60th anniversary of UEFA in 2012, it was decided to hold the championship in 12 cities. However, on April 23, the football organization officially announced its refusal to host matches between Dublin and Spanish Bilbao. The games in Bilbao were moved to the Estadio La Cartuja stadium in Seville, hence reducing the number of host cities to 11. The competition, postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, is held at 11 stadiums in 11 cities of 11 countries.
Azerbaijan deserves it
Azerbaijan is among the countries that UEFA has entrusted to host EURO 2020. The richest experience of our country in holding sports competitions is well known. These include the 1st European Games Baku-2015, the World Chess Olympiad 2016, the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games Baku-2017, the final stage of the UEFA Europa League between the English teams of Arsenal and Chelsea in 2019 and a number of other major international competitions.
The availability of modern sports infrastructure and sufficient organizational experience made Baku eligible as a city-organisers of EURO 2020. Just a week before the start of the European championship, Baku hosted, albeit without spectators, the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan, which is still a topic of hot discussions. Undoubtedly, the same will happen after four matches in Baku, which demonstrates the organizers' confidence in the strength and potential of Azerbaijan after the Europa League final.
Holding four football matches in Baku with the participation of the fraternal Turkish makes the local fans happy. Prior to adopting a decision to host the UEFA EURO 2020 games in 12 cities, the Turkish Football Federation nominated its country to host the championship. But after the decision to hold matches in different cities, this application was withdrawn. Probably, it was Turkey that was most happy about the election of Baku as one of the host cities of EURO 2020.
Holding events of a global scale is also important in terms of promoting Azerbaijan, its development, and tourism potential. In 2019, 39,000 foreign nationals came to Baku to watch the Europa League finals. According to forecasts, more than 15,000 foreign fans are expected to visit the capital of Azerbaijan to watch the EURO 2020 matches.
Despite the pandemic, fans arriving in Azerbaijan are not locked down – it’s enough to present a negative coronavirus test at the airport. The borders have been closed since the beginning of 2020 and access to tourists in the country has been closed. The European Championship can be an additional step to increase their flow.
Football is the king of sports. That is why it is necessary to note the presence of Baku in the list of cities-organizers of EURO 2020. When organizing competitions, UEFA places the highest priority on safety. The international football institution has also taken into account the high spirit of hospitality and friendliness towards foreigners in the country.
All matches of the European Championship are broadcast live in more than 100 countries around the world. They are watched by millions of viewers on social media and on cable TV. Games are watched over and over again, discussed over the years. During the competition, numerous stories about our city are also shown. These stories are also presented to viewers during live broadcasts.
Interesting facts related to the prestigious competition:
The greatest distance between the organising cities of EURO 2020 is between Baku and Seville (4,766 km). An aircraft covers this distance in about 6 hours.
Argentinean Fernando Rapallini is the first South American referee to ump at the European Championship.
In the group stage, the Swiss national team will have to cover 13,115 km. The team, which will travel from Baku to Rome and return back, has participated in four continental championships.
North Macedonia has the smallest population among all the countries participating in the European Championship - just over 2 million people.
The Austrian national team at UEFA EURO 2020 is the only team to have competed in the finals without winning a single game.
At four matches in Baku, 124,000 fans will have the opportunity to watch the game at the Baku Olympic Stadium. The most popular match will be the quarterfinal, which will take place on July 3 and may have two of the following national teams: the Netherlands, Russia, Germany or Turkey. The championship will end on July 11 with a final match in London, UK.
UEFA EURO 2020 makes our childhood dream true. Baku experiences the passion of the continental championship, while we can watch it at our own stadium. It’s nice to know that we have also contributed to the celebration of football. We wish our team to be among the participants of European Championships in the future.
Happy football holiday!