- Associated Press - Friday, April 28, 2017

MACOLIN, Switzerland (AP) - Belgium’s most senior soccer official doubts that a planned new stadium in Brussels can be ready for the 2020 European Championship.

FIFA Council member Michel D’Hooghe told The Associated Press on Friday that time was running out to solve political problems with the 60,000-capacity Eurostadium project.

“If they want to build it they have to start building very soon, and there I have severe doubts,” said D’Hooghe, whose role representing UEFA at FIFA ends next month after 29 years.

UEFA chose Brussels in 2014 among host cities in 13 different countries for the one-off, pan-continental Euro 2020.

Disputes between city and regional lawmakers delayed the start of construction, and Brussels club Anderlecht also withdrew this year from plans to use the new stadium.

“Even if Anderlecht would say ‘We go there,’ there remains the political problem,” said D’Hooghe, who spoke on the sidelines of an anti-doping summit as the head of FIFA and UEFA medical committees.

The 50,000-seat King Baudouin stadium in Brussels now lacks the broadcasting and hospitality facilities for a modern tournament. The renovated former Heysel stadium hosted the opening match of Euro 2000 co-hosted by Belgium and the Netherlands.

Still, D’Hooghe said it would “not be a big problem for UEFA” if it needs to find a replacement city.

Cardiff, which hosts the Champions League final in June, was overlooked for Euro 2020.

France has several suitable stadiums which were not chosen so soon after the country hosted Euro 2016.

“The organizers (in Brussels) still hope that there will be a solution. It is not impossible,” D’Hooghe said. “The problem is you cannot start building today.”

UEFA said on Friday it was aware of concerns with Eurostadium, though insisted it was “still possible to finish the project within the agreed timeline.”


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