Week 52 (13 - 19 September 2014)
This week, UEFA President Michel Platini came good on his promise to deliver a truly pan-continental European Football Championship in 2020.
Since Platini first mooted his plan of staging UEFA's showpiece tournament across many different nations, the idea has been met with scepticism and support in just about equal measure. But the Frenchman – a winner of the European Championship himself in 1984 – resolutely stuck to his guns. In 2012 he said his radical idea would take place "all over Europe" and sure enough, in an exhibition venue in Geneva on Friday, the 13 cities Platini revealed as host cities spanned more than 3,000 miles from the westernmost city in Dublin to the Eastern extremity of Baku in Azerbaijan.
Much of the early criticism of Platini's plan focused on the idea that in a continent-wide football tournament, no-one would feel like the host of the party. And therefore, the party would never get started.
But following Friday's announcement, which handed London both the semi-finals and the final, Platini was quick to ward off these worries from re-merging, saying:
"I know the party side of London, the way the English welcome people. Wembley will doubtless live up to the responsibility."
Yet of equal importance to Platini is taking UEFA's flagship international event to countries that wouldn't have been able to even dream of staging the European Championship in its traditional one-nation format. Countries such as Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Romania, Azerbaijan and the Basque Country are all proud football nations. Now, thanks to Platini and his Executive Committee, they will have the stage to show their passion to the rest of Europe.
Platini's dual aims for EURO 2020 - to guarantee a football party yet refresh Europe's horizons - were summed up nicely after the announcement ceremony:
"EURO 2020 is an idea that I put in place some years ago. I absolutely wanted the last week to be a week of national team football – I also wanted this competition to take place throughout Europe, and you saw today that it will go from east to west."
Platini has successfully sold his vision to UEFA and to Europe: now all he has to do is deliver it.
Photo: Klearchos Kapoutsis