One-down, one to go. Poland really blew their host nation status, turning in a poor performance against an average Czech Republic team to tumble out of Euro 2012. They failed to win a single game and as a result the two underdogs from Group A – the Czechs and Greeks – go into the quarter-finals.
It’s a pity, because the heart of Euro 2012 has been ripped out, at least in Warsaw, Gdansk and Wroclaw. UEFA need at least one host nation to make some sort of progress and they are in danger of having none. Ukraine and Poland are not France, Germany, Spain and Italy, countries where football can hold its own if the hosts are not in the mix.
If Ukraine fail to beat England – an England side that will be far more confident than the one that took the field against France – then UEFA are facing the second successive tournament where joint hosts have been eliminated before the knockout stage. If you look at how hosts have fared, under-performance is a recent problem. It’s not really under performance, though, because as UEFA runs out of choices, the joint-host thing implies the prospective host is not strong enough on its own. Thankfully, France is the next location in 2016 and there’s a suggestion that Germany could play mein host in 2020.
Financially, it’s not brilliant if the host goes out early, but also from a media perspective, it results in a tailing-off effect. It’s a similar problem faced by FIFA with the World Cup. So UEFA must be praying that Ukraine can keep the flag flying, at least to the next round.
Past performance of Euro hosts
1960 – France (4th); 1964 – Spain (Winners); 1968 – Italy (Winners); 1972 – Belgium (Third); 1976 – Yugoslavia (4th); 1980 – Italy (4th); 1984 – France (Winners); 1988 – Germany (Semi); 1992 – Sweden (Semi); 1996 – England (Semi); 2000 – Belgium (Group)/Holland (Semi); 2004 – Portugal (Final); 2008 – Austria (Group)/Switzerland (Group); 2012 – Poland (Group)/Ukraine