Turkey bids for place on football map at Euro 2016
Turkey hopes its political appeal and promise of social progress
can overcome more traditional bids from France and Italy for
hosting the 2016 European Championship.
Turkey’s bid team is preparing for President Abdullah Gul to
help present its case in Geneva on Friday to 13 voting members of
UEFA’s ruling executive.
The Turkish team will remind European soccer’s governing body
that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has guaranteed the entire
$1.14 billion budget for work on nine stadiums needed to host the
monthlong, 24-team tournament.
Turkey’s message is that, as a majority Muslim country, hosting
the world’s third most popular sports event behind the Olympics and
World Cup will “make a great contribution to the mission of UEFA
to integrate different cultures.”
“We represent the new Europe,” said Turkey soccer federation
president Mahmut Ozgener.
Turkey is bidding for the third time and has never hosted a
major soccer event. It was not even a member of UEFA when the first
European Championship was staged by France in 1960; Turkey was
accepted two years later.
In contrast, France and Italy represent older European soccer
powers, with each hosting two previous European Championships and
two World Cups.
Each hopes that hosting Euro 2016 will help modernize stadiums
that have fallen below the highest European standards since they
hosted a World Cup in the 1990s.
The French bid needs $2.1 billion to be spent on 12 stadiums,
including four new arenas, with $820 million pledged from public
funds. UEFA’s technical evaluation of the bids expressed concern
that less than half of the $1.22 billion in private funding was
“Our main guarantee to UEFA is that our projects are not
dependent on the Euro,” said French League president Frederic
Thiriez. “Our stadiums will be renovated whatever happens.”
France’s bid won praise from UEFA for outlining “a very good
long-term legacy” for soccer and escaped any major criticism. It
also could benefit from the blessing of UEFA president Michel
Platini, who captained France to victory when it last hosted in
Platini cannot take part in the debate or voting Friday.
UEFA has picked on several potential problems with the Italy
bid, including stadium and ticket costs, regional airports and a
lack of overall vision for the event.
Former playing great Paolo Maldini will help make Italy’s
“We’ve presented a serious and credible bid,” said Italian
federation president Giancarlo Abete, another UEFA executive member
who cannot vote. “If we don’t win, we will be very attentive that
the other candidates’ projects are completed.”
Turkey’s challenge is convincing UEFA it can deliver the modern
transportation necessary to move fans between eight proposed host
cities, all in the central and west regions.
UEFA will choose a 2016 host while still uncertain about
Ukraine’s ability to create infrastructure in time to co-host Euro
2012 with Poland. The eastern European neighbors were given just
five years to prepare, although for a 16-nation, 31-match
UEFA expanded the 2016 event to include eight extra teams
playing 51 total matches.
Revenue should also grow, strengthening the event’s status as
trailing only the World Cup and Summer Olympics on the global
Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland generated a profit of $394
million on television and marketing deals worth $2 billion. It also
delivered a television audience averaging 166 million per match,
according to figures presented to the International Olympic
Committee last year. The 2008 Super Bowl was seen by 104 million
Turkey’s bid team is enthusiastic to share its story.
“It is the perfect opportunity to tell about developing Turkey,
its young population and the new stadiums,” project director Orhan