Will the home advantage make a difference today (again)?


It’s worth remembering that it’s no coincidence that the four semi-finalists (England, Italy, Spain and Denmark) played all three of their group stages at home as fans filled the streets outside Wembley on Sunday ahead of the Euro 2020 final. reducing the amount of time and energy they might lose traveling through a month-long championship.

Timing was also likely a factor in how exhausted Denmark was against England in the semi-finals, days after having to travel to Baku, Azerbaijan in the previous round, England made a comparatively shorter trip – get out of their borders in a single month – to Rome.

Of course in a big tournament there is always a home country and the home country always has an advantage – in the environment, in the schedule, in the stadiums. But under normal circumstances, each team in the tournament gets a base in that country to reduce travel time. On a practical level, if not on a spiritual level, the playing field is level.

But even before the pandemic, Euro 2020 logistics is a nightmare: 11 stadiums spread across four time zones in 11 cities, all subject to different local conditions. There will be no appetite for an intercontinental tournament in European football again.

And that, frankly, is a good thing. When a single nation isn’t hosting a tournament, it’s not because something is lost, no matter how trivial and insignificant – attracting fans from all over the world, changing the fabric of what it calls home, even if it’s only for a month – but the spread of games makes the integrity of competition for putting it in danger.

This does not mean that Italy or England will be an undeserved champion. They were the two best teams in the tournament (rather than the two teams with the most talented individuals). Both secure their place in the final. But both are far from universal conditions.

It would be helpful if this didn’t happen again.


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