French 2023 bid based around 12 cities
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: France's bid to host the 2023 World Cup will be based around 12 cities, campaign chief Claude Atcher said Friday, with questions still remaining over which stadium in Paris would host the final.
Lille, Lens, Saint-Denis (Stade de France), Paris, Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Montpellier, Marseille, Nice, Saint-Etienne and Lyon are the 12 cities retained from a long list of 19.
The announcement was made after a French federation meeting in Paris in the presence of FFR president Bernard Laporte and his deputy Serge Simon.
The seven cities not selected were Valenciennes, Le Havre, Rennes, Le Mans, Sochaux, Grenoble and Nanterre.
The Paris stadium which will host the final and possibly the semi-finals is not yet known.
Stade Francais' Stade Jean-Bouin, with a current capacity of 20,000, and Paris Saint-Germain's Parc des Princes (48,000), are two possible options, according to Atcher. The Arena in the western suburb of Nanterre, which was to host Racing 92's home matches from the end of the year, will not be considered because of its pitch.
"Given current news, we eliminated the Arena," Atcher said half-jokingly in reference to this week's proposed merger between Stade Francais and Racing that has thrown the Top 14 into turmoil.
"The Arena has a technical problem in that it has a synthetic pitch. You have to play all World Cup matches on natural hybrid grass pitches."
Officials for the Arena stadium withdrew their bid to host matches because of the prohibitive cost of changing their pitch to meet World Rugby norms. Paris city officials have until June 1 to decide how to play it, with Atcher saying they would prefer the final to be in the Parc des Princes.
A World Rugby delegation will visit France on March 30-31 to meet with leaders of the French bid.
The country to host the 2023 World Cup will be announced on November 15 after two rounds of voting. Ireland and South Africa are also in the running.