By Andrew Warshaw
September 21 – With just under a week to go until the battle to stage the 2024 Euros reaches its denouement, head-to-head rivals Germany and Turkey are stepping up the rhetoric to try and get over the line in what promises to be a result every bit as close the Turks’ bid for 2016 when they lost by one vote eight years ago.
Germany go into the ballot at UEFA HQ in Switzerland as marginal favourites, but the final days and hours of lobbying could prove pivotal.
Turkey’s bid leader Servet Yardimci, vice-president of his country’s FA, has spoken of his respect for Germany’s bid but has re-iterated his belief that Turkey deserves to be chosen having missed out on three previous occasions.
“We hope UEFA will vote for a change so this tournament goes to a new nation like Turkey and so that we can showcase to the world how successful Turkey can be in delivering this tournament,” Yardımcı said.
With UEFA set to publish its evaluation report, Yardimci called on European football’s governing body to follow FIFA’s move of awarding this year’s World Cup to Russia.
“Now must be the time for Turkey to host this tournament,” he said. “This time we’re more than ready. We would like a change, a new nation to take this challenge as we saw in Russia.”
“We’re sure that our bid is more compelling and financially much better than our competitor’s. But obviously we don’t know what the other side’s bid looks like,” Yardımcı told Turkey’s Anadolu Agency (AA) agency.
“We’ve been very busy campaigning; we’ve been communicating to our friends. We hope that we’ve been able to convince our fellow committee members. We’ll see the decision on September 27.”
German bid officials have been at pains to stress that they have ready-made stadiums that could virtually stage the competition tomorrow but Yardimci countered that with eight of Turkey’s 10 stadia already completed, “they’re an average of three years old. So they’re newer than the German stadiums.”
Germany have hosted the World Cup twice, in 1974 and in 2006, and European Championship once in 1988. They, like Turkey, are expecting an extremely tight result on Thursday and have been putting forward what they believe are equally persuasive reasons to be selected.
This weekend, the top three men’s divisions in Germany, the Bundesliga, 2nd Bundesliga and 3rd League, will all feature numerous campaigns under the bid’s slogan of ‘United by Football’, as will the top two women’s divisions, the Allianz Frauen-Bundesliga, and the 2nd Frauen Bundesliga, along with selected amateur matches.
Among other signs of support, the teams will line up for a mixed team photo before the start matches, while the players will wear the logo of the German 2024 application on their shirts.
“Hosting EURO 2024 will benefit all clubs in Germany, from those at the very grassroots level to those whose stadiums will be host venues,” said DFB President Reinhard Grindel who, like Yardimci, will not be allowed to vote on Thursday since both are UEFA executive committee members.
For the first time, UEFA have included specific criteria relating to human rights in their bidding guidelines. Last year UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said the protection of human rights and labour rights was “of the utmost importance for UEFA.”
Whether this will count for much remains to be seen. Russia’s human rights record was also under intense scrutiny but that didn’t stop them getting the World Cup.
This, however, is a totally different selection process and tucked away in UEFA’s 40-page evaluation report is one potentially hugely significant remark. Although UEFA says the Turkish bid meets the overall criteria, “lack of an action plan in the area of human rights is a matter of concern.”
Despite this caveat, Yardımcı gave a bullish response to UEFA’s report. “The findings demonstrate how far we have come in our fourth bid to host UEFA’s prestige event,” he said.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org