UEFA: Israel's 'Complex' Situation Endangers 2020 Euro Host Bid

A UEFA ruling in July stopped Israel from playing international matches in the country during the conflict with Hamas militants in Gaza.

Tal Cohen

Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) raised concerns Wednesday about Israel's and Russia's capacity to host matches for the 2020 European Championship because of the political instability in both countries.

UEFA will choose 13 host cities across Europe for the tournament at a September 19 meeting of its executive committee. It must decide on whether to pick St. Petersburg and Jerusalem among the hosts.

In its evaluation report of the bids published Wednesday, UEFA said that the political situation in Israel is "complex" and acknowledged Russia's political situation as "increasingly complex."

A UEFA ruling in July stopped Israel from playing international matches in the country during the conflict with Hamas militants in Gaza. Russia, which will host the 2018 World Cup, has been widely criticized for its involvement in the Ukraine crisis.

"The Israeli political situation is described in the bid as complex, an assessment confirmed by independent institutions," UEFA said. "It is acknowledged that considerable investments would be required for such a project to be implemented, without, however, any further details being provided."

Twelve winning bidders will each host three group-stage matches and a single knockout match from the last-16 or quarterfinals rounds. England and Germany have submitted bids for the prestige package of semifinals and final.

While praising the overall quality and security standards of the new stadium planned in St. Petersburg, UEFA also said it did not receive sufficient information regarding the budget and the renovation work at the 32,000-capacity Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.

"Regarding safety and security, the stadium has not provided any relevant certificates or evacuation plan," the report added.

Regarding Scotland's bid to host matches at Glasgow's Hampden Park, UEFA noted that the city had good experience in hosting major events but added that the result of next week's independence referendum could be a potential issue.

"Scotland being part of the U.K., the legal situation is mostly — but not entirely — identical to that of England and Wales," UEFA said. "The situation may have to be reassessed should Scotland become independent of the U.K. following the referendum."