Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Cursed and compromised but Euro 2020’s irresistible circus rolls on

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Beset by greed and corporate influence, only one thing can save football from football and that is the game itself, something that retains its peculiar power

Welcome, then, to the damned Euros. Even in the middle of a wider run of bodged and compromised football tournaments, it is hard to think of any that quite match the contortions to come over the next few weeks.

It would be wrong to say Euro 2020 is a product borne solely out of corporate greed. In fact this delayed multi-host entity is a product born out of corporate greed and human arrogance – chiefly that of its author Michel Platini, a man irresistibly on the rise back in 2012 after his re-election as Uefa president, with the will to defy even the realities of economic austerity.

Platini’s vision of a Euros Of Everywhere reaches fruition on 11 June. Italy v Turkey in Rome is the first of 51 matches to be played in 31 days at 11 venues, from Glasgow on the west coast of Scotland to the Caspian Sea shore of Baku, Azerbaijan.

“It is a zany idea but it is a good idea,” Platini said – incorrectly on both accounts – at the launch of this back-of-an-envelope format, in essence a product of the banking crisis that had deprived Uefa of a willing and suitably lavish host.

At the time, objections from supporters’ groups were steamrollered, the needless carbon footprint ignored. The vast cost for fans not travelling on the company platinum card was dismissed in the grand ancien regime style. Let them use low-cost airlines, Platini shrugged.

Fast forward nine years and the carnival of everywhere has become a sporting cursed earth, attacked by hubris from every angle. Platini’s career has been guillotined by scandal. The tournament’s basic premise, a biddable mass of Ryanair-fuelled Euro consumers, has been destroyed completely by a year of plague.

Chuck in the fact the main host  . . .

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