The UEFA u21 Championship gets slowly bigger every two years, but remains half in shadow, a curious sideshow to the bigger tournaments.
Clashing with the FIFA Confederations Cup meant more international eyes were focused on South Africa, even in UEFA’s backyard, since two European nations were involved (Italy & Spain). In Britain this led to an interesting media rivalry between Sky, the tournament rights holders, and the BBC, who were showing the Confederations Cup and did their best to ignore the U21s, even waiting until the following day to post results on their website, despite England’s participation.
The attendances in Sweden ranged from 3,000 to the 20,000 capacity of the new stadia in Malmo and Gothenburg when the hosts were playing. Clearly, the show is not big enough yet to take to the super stadia of the continent. Should England for instance host it, Millwall’s The New Den (20,000) would make more sense than Arsenal’s Emirates (60,000) as a capital venue. Malmo’s new stadium is an interesting exercise in dark minimalism, a brooding hulk of a spacecraft against the long Scandinavian summer evenings, as if from ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’, or as UEFA described it ‘something out of Star Wars’.
It and the New Gamla (old) Ullevi in Gothenburg had perfect sightlines inside though lacked character like all new venues do. Compared to its iconic older brother, a feature of the skyline of Sweden’s second city, it is hidden away between buildings and hard to spot. Both arenas’ size reminded me of MLS stadia, although unlike those American examples, both were roofed for Northern Europe. Happily, the familiar eliptical rooves of the old stadia in both cities remain, with the new grounds built cheek by jowl. For more info, check out – https://senatordarwinbooher.com/
The two other venues, Helsingborg (12,500) and Halmstad (7,500) were real charmers, especially the tranquil forested riverside stadium in Halmstad. Both used for the 1958 World Cup, they dated originally from 1898 and 1922.
You would have known a tournament was on in Sweden as UEFA repeated their …