Irish sports fans had better get used to the idea of Bilbao. Not only will the city host the 2018 Guinness Pro14 Rugby Final but it has now also been paired with Dublin as host city partners for the Euro 2020 Championships.
Four matches will be played in Aviva Stadium in a unique version of the tournament that will be spread across 12 different countries and represents the biggest sporting event to be hosted in Ireland.
Each qualified host country will play a minimum of two matches at home in the group stage – the draw of which will take place in Dublin’s Convention Centre on December 2, 2018.
The group we will host will have three matches here and then the other three, including one for the Republic of Ireland providing we qualify in the Northern Spanish city.
The host city pairings were decided by means of a random draw – from six different lists of city pairings established on the basis of sporting strength and geographical considerations – and are as follows:
Group A: Rome and Baku
Group B: Saint Petersburg and Copenhagen
Group C: Amsterdam and Bucharest
Group D: London and Glasgow
Group E: Bilbao and Dublin
Group F: Munich and Budapest
The pairing of Bilbao and Dublin should provide scope for some imaginative work between the Guinness Pro14 team and the FAI, perhaps through Diageo who manage Carlsberg in Ireland and who are the 20-year partners of the FAI.
It was also announced yesterday that the four matches originally scheduled to be held in Brussels will now be allocated to Wembley Stadium in London after a decision not to build a new stadium for the tournament in the Belgian capital.
The opening match of Euro 2020 will be played in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
“I would like to welcome the decision by UEFA that Dublin has been paired with the great city of Bilbao for UEFA EURO 2020,” said FAI CEO John Delaney.
“Today’s host city pairings marks an exciting chapter in the build-up to the European Championships, which will see Dublin and Ireland hosting the biggest ever sporting event to take place in our country.
“A huge amount of work has gone into preparation for the tournament and we are making enormous progress in preparing the Aviva Stadium for when it becomes a focus for worldwide attention during this prestigious competition.
“I look forward to welcoming our friends from Bilbao to Dublin where we can build a strong partnership working together to ensure the very best organisational and sporting structures are in place for the summer of 2020.”
Welcoming the news, Lord Mayor of Dublin, Ardmheara Michael McDonncha, added “On behalf of the citizens of Dublin, I’m delighted by UEFA’s decision to pair Dublin with Bilbao for EURO 2020.”
“These two great cities will have an opportunity to work together to play a major role in this unique pan-European sporting event.”
“As a host city, Dublin will be able to showcase itself to the world and will provide visitors with a festival of football in June 2020.”