Warsaw: Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine proved an unprecedented sell-out and the tournament generated revenues ahead of the 2008 edition in Switzerland and Austria, UEFA’s top watchdog said on Tuesday.
The run-up to the June 8 to July 1 European championships saw much-touted fears that high accommodation prices in Ukraine, plus transport headaches, would dent sales.
Doomsayers’ concerns were stoked by the fact that England’s traditionally ardent supporters bought only half of the tickets allocated to their official fan club for each group stage match.
But the final figures told a very different story.
“We had 1.44 million attendance, and we sold 100 percent of the tickets. That’s the first time we’ve really sold 100 percent of the tickets,” Martin Kallen, operations director at European football’s governing body, told reporters during a wrap-up visit to Poland.
“If you’re looking where we have most attendance, in Kiev it was the match Sweden-England, with 64,640, and of course in Poland it was here in Warsaw, on the opening match, Poland against Greece, where we had 59,070,” Kallen said.
“Average attendance of all matches was 46,450, which is higher than Switzerland and Austria, where we had smaller stadiums,” he added.
Kallen acknowledged that there was disappointment over no-shows at some games – which led to gaps in stadiums that were all-too visible during match broadcasts.
“One of the down points was that we sold 100 percent of the tickets but for attendance we had 98.6 percent, so in some matches we could see that seats were empty. They were all sold, but some people didn’t attend for some reason,” he said.
“But that’s still a very high number and a fantastic achievement from our side in the ticketing area.”
In addition to supporters inside the eight stadiums in Poland and Ukraine, a total of seven million people watched matches by live link in the host countries’ fanzones, up from 4.2 million in Switzerland and Austria.
Euro 2012 marked the first-ever edition of the quadrennial football showcase to take place behind the former Iron Curtain, and Poland and Ukraine were plagued by doubts about their hosting ability.
But they have won repeated plaudits from UEFA and foreign supporters alike for the atmosphere – close to 2.2 million people watched games in Kiev’s fanzone, and 1.4 million in Warsaw, for example.
“We had a tournament that was beyond expectations. It was an outstanding tournament, and something really special,” said Kallen.
The European championships are also UEFA’s financial engine, and on that front, income hit 1.383 billion euros ($1.692 billion) at Euro 2012, up from 1.351 billion in 2008.
TV rights sales, which traditionally form the bulk of that sum, were 815 million euros, up from 780 million.
“On the cost side, we had a little bit more than in 2008, so the net result will be a bit less, but very, very similar,” Kallen said, underlining that final figures were still being calculated.
The 16 participating teams will get a combined 200 million euros from the Euro pot, while 100 million goes to clubs whose players were involved, and 500 million to UEFA’s “HatTrick” scheme that builds grassroots football across Europe.