Kallen the shots

Martin Kallen has overseen every Uefa European Championship since 1996. As Uefa prepares for something altogether diff erent in 2020


60 | SportsProMedia.com 61 The next three years promise
to be comparatively stressfree
for Martin Kallen. As
operations director for Uefa,
European soccer’s governing body, the
Swiss is tasked with the successful delivery
of the 2016 Uefa European Championship
in France, a tournament that is nigh-on
guaranteed to escape the level of scrutiny
that surrounded its immediate predecessor
in Poland and Ukraine.
Having hosted the 1938 and 1998 Fifa
World Cups and two previous editions of
the European Championship – in 1960
and 1984 – France has more experience
than most of putting on soccer’s biggest
events. Whatever one’s opinion on Uefa’s
decision to return the tournament to the
homeland of its own president, Michel
Platini, nobody is doubting the country’s
ability to fulfi ll its bid commitments, least
of all Kallen.
“We are in a football-addicted
country,” he says, speaking to
SportsPro late last year. “We are not so
much concerned.”
The knowledge and expertise shared
amongst the French organisers is a
particular strong point going into Euro
2016. Platini himself, as well as Jacques
Lambert, the president of the Euro 2016
organising committee, previously worked
on France’s staging of the ‘98 World Cup
and with Kallen, who has overseen the
delivery of every Euro since England in
1996, pulling the strings on the current
project from Uefa’s headquarters in nearby
Nyon, the concerns and controversies that
typically dog major event preparations are
all but accounted for.
“The bar for this Euro will be very,
very high because it will be delivered with
excellence,” Kallen proclaims, with the
insistent positivity of seemingly all senior
Uefa spokesmen. “We will do our best
and I think the setting in France gives us
the possibility to deliver at this very, very
high bar. The Euro has developed each
time from edition to edition and now
everybody is expecting a very, very good
championship, well organised, having a
home team that could go very far.”
Winners in 1984 and 2000, the French
have developed a close love affair with
the European Championship. The
tournament itself was the brainchild of
a Frenchman, Henri Delaunay, who was
Uefa’s fi rst general secretary and for whom
the winner’s trophy is now named. Yet
while France may be a known quantity
for the European soccer community,
Uefa is entering unchartered territory as
its fl agship tournament undergoes yet
another expansion.
Having doubled in size three times
between the inaugural four-nation event
in 1960 and 1996, the tournament will
for the fi rst time feature 24 teams and,
as Kallen points out, the increase adds
another dimension to preparations.
“24 teams means 51 matches so the
tournament is one week longer, more or
Martin Kallen has overseen every Uefa European Championship since 1996. As Uefa prepares for
something altogether diff erent in 2020, the Swiss is gearing up for an expanded tournament in the
soccer heartland of France in 2016.
Kallen the shots
By Michael Long
Construction of OGC Nice’s 45,000-seater Allianz Riviera, one of four new venues to be used for Uefa Euro 2016, is well underway in southern France
Ville de Nice/ F. Vigouroux, Vinci
SSporrttssPrro Maagaazziine || 601
less,” he explains. “You need to have more
training grounds, more services for the
teams. While there might be stadiums
which are 30, 40, 50, and over 70,000
capacity, there will be matches that are a
little bit less demanded, or less spectators
come from those countries. So it is
important to have full capacity stadiums,
which for 51 matches is a little bit more of
a challenge than for 31.”
The number one priority for Kallen and
the French organisers, then, is to ensure
stadiums are filled to capacity through
engaging marketing and an efficient
ticketing system. “We are only starting on
this process but for us we are in a footballaddicted
country, where people like to
go to these events,” Kallen explains.
“We are not so much concerned about
fully crowded stadiums but of course we
need to be thinking carefully about the
marketing and the promotion and the sale
of tickets. The past has shown us, like in
Poland-Ukraine [2012] or Switzerland-
Austria [2008], that the demand for tickets
was always a lot higher than the capacity.
We had 1.5 million tickets in Poland and
Ukraine; now we are moving up to 2.5
million. In Poland and Ukraine we had a
demand for over 12 million tickets. This
is all a little bit speculative but I think
that with those past results and with good
preparation and promotion and a good
ticketing system in place, I think the
stadiums will be full.”
Uefa’s decision to expand the
tournament has attracted criticism from
some who say the introduction of weaker
teams will dilute the competition. Kallen
disagrees, however. He reiterates that
Uefa’s decision was made “for sporting
reasons…to give more federations the
chance to take part” and refutes the idea
that expansion is a way of lining Uefa’s
own pockets.
“On the marketing side, it is not that
because we have 24 teams that you can
extrapolate the revenues. It is not like
that,” he says. “You can do a little bit
more revenue but it is not in the same
percentage as the increase of teams
because all the countries before already
had the TV rights. On sponsorship, also,
there is a bar which you can hit but after
that it is more difficult to find sponsors
which will pay over the bar, or over what
is expected. The marketing rights and all
this are already at a very high level.”
Euro 2016 will be staged in ten
stadiums situated across the same number
of host cities. According to Kallen, they
“are developing well”.
“We have already two stadiums
finished, they are Lille in the north
of France and the Stade de France in
Paris.” he reveals. “The two stadiums
are already in use, one since ‘98 and
the other since the summer. If the
construction in Nice goes well, that will
be open next summer. Also in Lyon,
while they’ve had some issues in the past
on different permits, they have started
now the construction with the earth
work. At the moment, we are OK and
we are confident everything will finish in
the summer of 2015 at the latest.”
As preparations gather pace in 2013,
the next task for Kallen and his team
will be to prepare the stadiums for
tournament usage before a multitude of
other aspects must be taken care of. “The
next big milestone,” he says, “is looking
at the development and operation of the
stadiums, to start with conditional overlay
for the European Championship, which is
still quite big with the installations, media
services, TV installations, hospitality,
sponsor installations, which are normally
over the capacity of the existing
“The Euro has developed each time from
edition to edition and now everybody is
expecting a very, very good championship.”
The Stade Vélodrome, France’s biggest club stadium, is being upgraded Uefa’s Martin Kallen is preparing to deliver his sixth European Championship
62 | SportsProMedia.com 63 With the dust having
settled on Poland and
Ukraine’s major soccer
event bow, Martin
Kallen believes the 2012 edition of
Uefa’s fl agship international tournament
was just about as well organised
as it could have been, given the
operational obstacles and infrastructural
inadequacies Uefa and the two host
countries had to face up to.
According to him, 2012 “was the
time to go east” for Uefa and in spite
of any criticism, last year’s event was,
from an organisational point of view,
“the benchmark” when compared to
his experience of delivering the four
previous editions. “It may be a bit of a
surprise for you,” he says.
The Swiss does, however, accept that
the readiness of Poland and Ukraine’s
infrastructure was not ideal, with public
transport “not at the level” he had
hoped for and stadium construction a
standout concern.
“For us it’s clear that if the stadiums
would have been fi nished earlier that
would have been for sure a plus because
they were, as you know, quite late in
delivering,” he explains. “This is always
a big risk, when you have not enough
time to train, to use and have experience
of it, from one side the infrastructure
and secondly of course also from the
operational side. Our target is always
that stadiums are ready two years ahead
of the event and we were in many
stadiums less than one year. But then,
of course, we would always like to begin
work as early as is possible.”
The organisers of Euro 2012 were
dealt a potentially diffi cult hand with the
tournament taking place as it did in an
Olympic year. There was a danger that
preparations for London 2012 would
overshadow the soccer tournament
but Kallen believes “there is not really
an issue” with staging a Euro – as was
also the case in 2004 – so close to a
European Games.
“People who like football are
sometimes different to Olympic lovers
and the two events go well together,” he
says. “The only point we could see this
time [was that] London is a great market
for corporate hospitality sales, for
tickets with hospitality and experiences
in stadiums with skyboxes or business
seat holders. So we had a little bit
less people coming from the London
market, which was clear because they
were focused on the Olympics.”
Euro 2012: “the time to go east”
stadium and are specifi c because it is
a mega-event. This is a process which
will be launched [in 2013] and then this
process needs to be fi nalised around 2015
for preparing the implementation.
“After the 2014 World Cup in Brazil,”
Kallen continues, “teams will be looking
forward to coming to France to see
where they can have their base camp.
Then it is very important to be ready in
order to offer the teams the best possible
conditions throughout France, so that
they have a good palette of base camps
to choose from and hotels where they’d
like to stay.
“Then we will be starting volunteer
recruitment – which is also important
– in 2015, starting different corporate
hospitality sales and ticket sales in 2014
and ’15, getting TV rights sales delivered
and all fi nished around 2015, and all the
sponsorship as well, so we can in the
last nine months fully concentrate on
the implementation of the tournament.
So there are different milestones. We
are doing this with fi rstly a very detailed
roadmap and then after the roadmap with
a detailed project plan where we have
around 60 projects.”
In order to implement the Euro 2016
marketing programme Uefa has been
working since October with CAA Eleven,
the start-up agency created exclusively to
sell commercial rights to the governing
body’s major events. As well as selling
the TV rights to Euro 2016 matches,
including to the qualifi ers which begin
in September 2014, CAA Eleven will
handle the event’s global and national
sponsorship packages.
“We are looking for around six national
sponsors,” Kallen says. “I’m sure that
our new agency will deliver this plan but
further information is expected in the
coming months. We have already now fi ve
main global sponsors on board and this
looks quite promising.”
As for television, Kallen explains how
the growth of the tournament has shifted
focus to markets further afi eld ahead of
the coming rights cycle. “If you look at
the European Championship’s growth
on television and countries, Euro went
from a long time from a continental
championship to a global championship,”
he says. “We could also see this time in
Poland and Ukraine that this was even
SportsPro Magazine | 623
very much increased. The main countries
where we have seen a huge increase are
the United States, Canada and on the
Asian side. I think in 2016 it will further
develop because people like to see the
European Championship and they like to
see football. The main goal will be, for
sure, the areas outside Europe.”
Looking beyond 2016, Kallen is
understandably coy on Uefa’s plans for
the Euro, given that, at the time of this
interview, Platini’s controversial idea to
stage the 2020 tournament in several cities
across Europe has yet to be ratifi ed by the
Uefa Executive Committee.
Kallen does, however, state that any
candidates wishing to host matches
in 2020 will “always be out of [Uefa’s]
53 member associations”, essentially
snubbing any possibility of games being
played outside of Europe – for example
in Qatar, which, it has been suggested,
might think of lining up an audacious bid
to stage a 2020 match as a precursor to the
country’s Fifa World Cup two years later.
“I think Uefa is open to all these
federations as long as they can fulfi l the
bidding requirements because they are
important to keep or develop further
the brand and the competition,” Kallen
says of Uefa’s European members.
“The bidding process is there to
choose a candidate which can fulfi l
the requirements so that the risk of the
fulfi lment is not too high for Uefa.”
The Allianz Riviera is set to open this summer Olympique de Marseille continue to play matches at the Stade Vélodrome during renovation work
Martin Kallen has
overseen preparations
for every Uefa European
Championship since
Euro 96 in England and therefore
supervised Uefa’s fi rst venture into
the concept of joint hosting. It has,
he says, been a challenge. “Firstly, it’s
clear that if you have a single bid it’s
always easier,” he says. “For Euro 2016
in France, from the starting point,
there’s one country, one legislation,
one law, etc. This is always easier from
an organisational point of view.”
Holland and Belgium’s Euro 2000
was the fi rst European Championship
to be staged in two countries.
Following a subsequent fi rst-time visit
to Portugal in 2004, Uefa then opted
to select successive joint bids, with
Austria and Switzerland awarded the
2008 tournament before Poland and
Ukraine were charged with the staging
of last year’s edition.
“We’ve now had double
organisation three times,” Kallen
says. “I think it is manageable but it
is a little bit more work because there
are two different countries with two
different philosophies and laws in
place. But it’s also in the philosophy
of Uefa to give as many federations
the chance to organise a European
Championship and sometimes two
federations in two neighbouring
countries can do that well. It has
shown in the past that we could
overcome this additional burden.”
Kallen admits that there is always a
certain degree of competition between
any two host countries but he believes
any rivalry is born out of national pride
as opposed to any underlying hostility
between neighbours.
“I think between Poland and
Ukraine there was not a huge
competition,” he says. “Always there
is a small competition, like with
Switzerland and Austria, and Holland
and Belgium, but each of the countries
looked to do their best in their country
and also they were very pleased if
the other country delivered because
they are all in the same boat. It’s one
European Championship in two
countries and they want to ensure it
goes well in both countries because it
would have an infl uence [on the whole
event] if one would not deliver at more
or less the same level.”
Double trouble
Ville de Nice/ F. Vigouroux, Vinci

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