UEFA, the governing body for football in Europe, is set to decide the host of 2024 European Championship today (Thursday) with Germany and Turkey in the last stage of the battle.
While Germany is favoured to be the host for 2024 edition of Europe’s coveted multi-nation men’s football tournament, Turkey might find it difficult to stay in the fray especially after UEFA has admitted that it would be ‘a risk’ to award the Euro 2024 hosting rights to Turkey.
The campaign to promote the candidature to host Euro 2024 by the countries came out to be a mix of football and politics.
Setback for Turkey came after UEFA’s evaluation report into the two bids was published this week. The report suggests that Turkey’s inability to take a tough stand on human rights violations topped up by the concerns of limited hotel capacity in the country might bolster Germany’s prospects.
The report highlights the fact that Turkey’s largest and most iconic venue, Istanbul’s Ataturk Olympic Stadium, will have to be rebuilt before the 24-team quadrennial football tournament. There are also concerns over plans to heavily renovate the infrastructure of the nation’s transport links and systems to meet UEFA criteria.
“The scale of works to be undertaken in the given time frame constitutes a risk, especially in combination with the dependence on a few airports for international and domestic travel,” states the report.
Still, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) has brought forward a strong case for their bid, backed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is an ardent football fan, which is based on the promotion of multiculturism. Rest all is left to the final outcome to be decided by 17 UEFA executive committee members who will vote today in Nyon, Switzerland.
Germany’s proposal, meanwhile, focuses on ‘creating a bridge between elite and grassroots football.’
Turkey has never hosted a major tournament and has lost contests to host Euro 2008, 2012 and 2016. Germany, on the other hand, staged FIFA World Cup 2006 and Euro 1988 as West Germany before the Berlin Wall came down. Turkey believes it finally deserves a chance and gives UEFA greater access to markets in Asia.
Germany’s bid relies on those World Cup stadiums and positive memories of a fan-friendly event that was hugely profitable for FIFA.
Germany has claimed itself a secure choice for UEFA and easy for fans to access in the center of Europe while stressing on its strength on social issues, inviting comparisons with an Erdogan government which cracked down on free speech and removed many public employees from office.
Both candidates offer 10 stadiums to play the 51-game, month-long tournament. The German venues are already in use and only Dusseldorf was not part of the 2006 World Cup. Both Berlin (70,000 capacity) and Munich (66,000) can host the final. They hosted Champions League finals in 2015 and 2012, respectively. The 10 stadia proposed by the German Football Federation (DFB) bid does not any require renovation or rebuilding.
Of Turkey’s proposed venues, only Ankara is not in use after a sweeping stadium building program this decade. However, if Turkey wins, the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul would be rebuilt with an 85,000 capacity after it hosts the 2020 Champions League final.
When it comes to finances, the German bid led by the World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has promised sizable and reliable revenues with almost 300,000 more tickets to sell. Germany has a net capacity of 2.78 million seats and Turkey has 2.49 million. Three of Turkey’s stadiums would hold fewer than 35,000 for games. The smallest of German stadiums has at least 46,000 capacity.
However, Turkey scores over Germany with all stadiums given rent-free to UEFA by their owner, the Ministry of Sports. UEFA’s evaluation notes a “fair cost” of renting German stadiums. A currency crisis in Turkey has seen the lira lose almost half its value against UEFA’s working currency, the euro, in the past year.