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By ESPN Staff

UEFA line up hosts for U21 finals

NYON, Switzerland, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Portugal will host the European Under-21 championship finals in 2006 and the Netherlands will host the finals in 2007, UEFA's executive committee decided on Thursday.

The championship is normally held every two years but UEFA decided to move the finals to odd years to avoid a clash with the senior championship and World Cup, hence the back to back events of 2006 and 2007.

Italy won the 2004 edition, their fifth success in the last seven finals.

Portugal hosted the senior European championship last year, losing in the final to Greece, while the Dutch co-hosted Euro 2000 with Belgium.

UEFA chief executive Lars-Christer Olsson explained the reasoning behind the decision to award the finals to Holland ahead of England.

'It was very close between those two, but Holland had some smaller advantages over England,' said Olsson. 'They had a very good concept on how to promote the competition and take it to smaller venues.

'They also have very good experience after hosting the FIFA World Youth Championships in June this year. They organised it in a very successful way.

'But there were only marginal differences between the two.'

UEFA also confirmed the hosts of next summer's Under-21 finals will be Portugal.