The board of the FAI has now officially approved a formal bid to host Euro 2020 games at the Aviva Stadium but it will be September next year before a decision on the host cities for the tournament is taken.
The confirmation of the FAI’s interest came as UEFA announced that while Euro 2020 will be held across 13 countries, the semi-finals and final will be played at the same stadium.
Host countries will not qualify automatically but if they do make it to the finals, their national team will be guaranteed to play at least two of three group matches at home, Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino said in Nyon, Switzerland yesterday.
Two host cities can have a stadium capacity as low as 30,000, but 10 stadiums will have a 50,000 minimum capacity – a requirement which the Aviva meets — and four of those will need to hold at least 60,000 for the quarter-finals. The stadium that hosts the two semi-finals and final will have to be able to seat more than 70,000 fans.
Wembley Stadium is to bid to stage the showpiece of the tournament, and is expected to face rival bids from Rome, Berlin, Madrid and Istanbul.
Meanwhile, striker Shane Long has declared himself fit for the friendly against Poland on February 6 after avoiding the threat of surgery thanks to West Bromwich Albion’s quick-thinking medical staff. Long has missed Albion’s last three games with what was initially thought to be a ‘dead’ leg which he suffered in training on January 11.
However, it turned out to be a more serious haematoma — a pooling of blood inside a muscle which can harden and restrict movement— and had it not been treated correctly Long was looking at six weeks on the sidelines.
However, he is now fit to make his Albion comeback against Everton next Wednesday and is relieved that his absence will not be a longer one.
“When the doc (Albion’s head of medical services, Mark Gillett) saw the lump in my thigh, he was concerned and took another look when I came out of the shower,” said Long.
“I had a dead leg and it turned out to be a haematoma which can lead to hospitalisation. I think some players have to have the haematoma cut out. Fortunately, we got on top of it when we did as it’s the sort of thing that can last for a week or it can last for six weeks.
“I got back into training on Wednesday and it felt good. It was a little stiff because I haven’t trained for a few days. But I’m breaking myself in slowly and now I’m targeting the Everton match next week.”
Less encouraging news for Giovanni Trapattoni is that Seamus Coleman is ruled out of Everton’s FA Cup game against Bolton Wanderers with an ongoing thigh problem which is also expected to see him withdraw from the Irish squad for the game against Poland. Picture: Shane Long in action against Greece during last November’s friendly in Dublin. Picture: Brian Lawless/SPORTSFILE
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