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  Friday, 25 January, 2002, 08:47 GMT
Hosts set for Euro 2004
BBC Sport Online's Caroline Cheese looks ahead to the 2004 European Championship in Portugal.

After two co-hosted football tournaments in 2000 and 2002, it will come as something of a relief that Euro 2004 will be held solely in one country.

But with a population of just 10 million inhabitants, Portugal may seem a strange choice as hosts.

Particularly when you consider that they beat off competition from the favourites Spain and yet another joint bid, this time from Hungary and Austria.

The country has also never hosted a major championship before and its team has a history of underachievement in European Championships and World Cups.

'We love football'

Nonetheless, though hardly one of the sport's superpowers, Portugal can lay claim to a rich footballing history and in Benfica, Sporting Lisbon and FC Porto boasts three clubs with Europe-wide reputations.

The Portuguese bid's official motto was simple but clearly effective: 'We love football'.

The Portuguese nation's love of the game is not surprising given the calibre of player the country produces and their hosting of Euro 2004 is due recognition of the worldwide impact of players such as Luis Figo and Rui Costa.

The tournament is to be held in eight cities, from Braga and Guimaraes in the north to the Algarve in the south, with five of the 10 stadiums being revamped in time for Europe's premier football event.

It was Portugal's detailed plans for the development of its stadiums which eventually won over the Uefa executive committee, with sports other than just football benefitting.

Capital city Lisbon will get a new 54,000 capacity stadium being built at an estimated cost of 60m.

Luis Figo
Portugal's Luis Figo is one of the best players in the world

The new ground will eventually be the home of Sporting Lisbon, the 17-times winners of the Portuguese league.

The Stadium of Light, home of twice European champions Benfica, receives a makeover at a cost of 15m which will increase its capacity to 70,000.

FC Porto will also move into a new home as a result of the championship, with a 50,000 capacity ground being built at a cost of 50m.

Other new stadiums are being built in Braga, Aveiro, Coimbra and the Algarve.

Portugal's 'defeat' of Spain in the bidding for Euro 2004 was particularly sweet given that it has long suffered in its larger neighbour's shadow, on an international scale as well as in footballing terms.

But with a booming economy and international quality stadiums in the pipeline, Portugal look set to put their name firmly on the football map.

They will be hoping that their team, of whom as ever great things will be expected, can live up to the surroundings.

All the build-up to Euro 2004

How the groups line up

Background features
Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


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Links to more Europe stories

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