FAI dedicate fans award to memory of James Nolan

Sat, Jun 30, 2012, 01:00

The father of a young Irishman who drowned while at Euro 2012 has said it is a great honour to have a Uefa award dedicated to his son. James Nolan’s father Jimmy thanked Ireland supporters who have been recognised with a special tribute for being the best fans during their short-lived spell at the competition.

“I am deeply touched by this,” Mr Nolan said. “It is a great honour and I would like to thank the amazing support that we have received at this difficult time from supporters of Ireland in every part of the world.”

Mr Nolan’s 21-year-old son drowned in the River Brda in the town of Bydgoszcz in Poland the weekend before Ireland’s final match against Italy in Poznan. The engineering student had been travelling with a group of friends and stopped in the town en route to the game when he went missing.

His funeral took place earlier this week in Blessington, Co Wicklow, with Irish goalkeeper Shay Given and Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief executive John Delaney paying their respects. Captain Robbie Keane’s wife Claudine also attended the Mass.

Uefa president Michel Platini announced in the Ukrainian capital Kiev today he would present a special award to Irish fans to recognise their great behaviour and contribution at Euro 2012. At the pre-final press conference the former France star said he intends to travel in person to Dublin to make the presentation. The FAI followed the announcement by dedicating the award to the memory of James Nolan.

Association president Paddy McCaul said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Uefa president Michel Platini for his decision to recognise the incredible support that our fans showed during the tournament. They were a credit to the country and won praise everywhere they went in Poland, striking up a great relationship with everyone they met. I am glad that the award will be dedicated to James Nolan whose passing has touched us all.”

In other news, Platini has said that the 2020 European Championship could be spread across 12 or 13 cities around Europe, rather than being staged in just one or two countries.

“The Euros in 2020 could be held all over Europe,” Platini said, “You could have one country with 12 host cities, or we could have it in 12 or 13 cities all over Europe. It is just an idea, but in these days of cheap air travel anything is possible.”

Turkey had been favourite to host the event in eight years’ time but their bid has been complicated by Istanbul’s campaign to also host the Olympic Games in the same year. Platini said the idea for a multi-country Euros came to him “a while ago” and had been met with interest from his executive.

“It’s an idea I feel really passionate about, it will be a lot easier from a financial perspective for all the countries. If you need to build airports or 10 stadiums in a country, this would be rather easy because it would be one stadium per host city. That’s all we can say at the moment. We have not decided anything yet, but by January we will decide if we are going to have the Euros in one country or all over Europe.”

The next Euros, in France in 2016, will comprise 24 teams, but Platini said it was unlikely the Euros would expand to 32 teams as it may reduce in quality.

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