France named Euro 2016 hosts
Geneva - France were named as hosts of Euro 2016 by UEFA president Michel Platini on Friday, the French bid beating off strong opposition from the two other candidates - Turkey and Italy.
France prevailed with seven of the 13 votes cast by UEFA's executive committee members in the second round of voting, edging Turkey by one vote.
France's candidacy was supported by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who had spoken out in its favour at the final round of presentations to UEFA delegates in Geneva earlier on Friday.
"We are very happy, very honoured," Sarkozy, who had taken a personal interest in the bid after Paris failed to land the 2012 Olympic Games awarded to London, said.
The French president added: "I would simply like to say how much we are happy to be the organising country for the European championships. We are going to do our best so that the 24 teams will get a fantastic reception."
Jean-Pierre Escalettes, president of the French Football Federation, paid tribute to the two losing bidders.
"I have a thought for our friends in Turkey and Italy - putting myself in their place I can imagine their disappointment and frustration after months and months of work.
"Good luck to Italian and Turkish football."
He added: "I am overwhelmed to think that France will welcome European football in 2016.
"The (UEFA) executive committee members appreciated our efforts, they put confidence in us. What counts is to have UEFA's confidence, this trust will not be betrayed. This is a great day for us!"
Platini, one of France's most celebrated players who skippered France's 1984 European championship winning side on home soil, described the result as "a huge relief for French football which needed this to renovate her stadias".
He continued: "We had three exceptional bids which all carried out extraordinary work."
Friday's decision came as a welcome fillip after a year that has seen French football mired in controversy over Thierry Henry's handball in the World Cup play-off against the Republic of Ireland.
For Turkey meanwhile this was the third consecutive time they had suffered the heartache of missing out after losing the right to stage Euro 2008 to Switzerland and Austria and 2012 to Ukraine and Poland.
Their bid was supported by the presence of Turkish president Abdullah Gul while Italy were represented by Sports Minister Rocco Crimi.
Italy were knocked out of the hunt in the first round of voting in which France obtained 43 points on UEFA's 'barometer', with Turkey on 38 and Italy on 23.
Platini, the French boss of European football, smiled: "This vote proves that UEFA is democratic. If the president had been a dictator the result would have been 13-0-0!"
France's winning bid for 2016 consisted of 12 venues - the Stade de France where France defeated Brazil in the '98 World Cup final, Paris Saint Germain's Parc des Princes, Lens, Lille, Bordeaux, Nice, Toulouse, Marseille, Lyon, Strasbourg, Saint Etienne and Nancy.
The French government has pledged to invest 150 million euros in the construction and renovation of the stadias.
Euro 2016 will be the first European championships to feature 24 teams, eight more than the Euro 2012.
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