KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – The 2020 European Championship could be hosted by 12 or 13 cities across Europe in a potentially radical change to the world's second biggest football tournament, UEFA President Michel Platini said on Saturday.
Held every four years, the European Championship is second only to the World Cup in global popularity and until 12 years ago was staged in one nation. However, three of the last four editions have been co-hosted by two countries, with Poland and Ukraine staging Euro 2012.
Speaking on the eve of Sunday's final between defending champion Spain and Italy, Platini said: ''We could either have one country with 12 host cities or have it in 12 or 13 cities all over Europe.''
The head of European football's ruling body said a decision would be taken in December or January on the idea.
Platini, who won the competition as a player with France in 1984, said: ''It's an idea I feel really passionate about.''
He added that ''it will be a lot easier from a financial perspective.''
The financial burden on host nations can be considerable, and one that's even more difficult to bear at a time of economic crisis across much of the region.
Host countries often have to make major infrastructure investments, including new or revamped stadiums, airports, public transport links, communication systems and roads.
''We won't need to build airports, especially at this moment in time when we have an economic crisis,'' Platini said.
Spreading the tournament across many countries would also expand the appeal - and financial benefits - of a competition that already enjoys a huge global audience.
UEFA has predicted that a worldwide television audience of 250 million viewers will watch Spain play Italy in Sunday's final in Kiev.
Euro 2012 has provided a good return for broadcasters in more than 200 territories who paid a combined ?840 million ($1.07 billion) for media rights. They contributed 62 percent of UEFA's total commercial revenue of ?1.345 billion ($1.7 billion) for the 31-match tournament.
Euro 2012 is being hosted by eight venues in Poland and Ukraine, with each country staging matches in four cities. Euro 2008 was co-hosted by Austria and Switzerland, while the first jointly held event was in Belgium and the Netherlands in 2000.
Portugal staged Euro 2004.