- UEFA will
select the host of the 2024
European Championship on Thursday in a vote pitting a safe
German bid against a riskier Turkish proposal that offers a chance to explore
Germany, with its a long history
of hosting major sporting events, has everything in place for a successful
tournament, from stadiums to infrastructure and hotels, UEFA said in an
evaluation last week.
Turkey, desperate to host its
first ever major sporting event, boasts gleaming new stadiums and a
But its economy is troubled, its
transport network is lacking and, perhaps most importantly, the country's
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has presided over an unprecedented crackdown
that has prompted global concern over respect for human rights.
Germany has at times been
bitterly critical of Turkey under Erdogan.
And, by extraordinary
coincidence, the Turkish leader will be in Germany on Thursday for a trip that
includes talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
- 'Football can unify' -
Germany hosted the World Cup in 2006
but has never staged the Euro as a unified country: West Germany hosted in
The bid sees matches spread over
10 stadiums with capacity for a total of 2.78 million spectators -- 290,000
more than Turkey -- giving Germany a financial edge from potential ticket
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin
has made clear it is crucial "to make as much money as possible,"
from Euro 2024.
But Germany is not just pitching
itself as a steady hand that can host without a hitch -- it has also voiced
confidence that a tournament on its soil could build societal unity.
Arsenal star Mesut Ozil, born in
Germany to Turkish parents, accused the German FA (DFB) of racism when he
retired from international football in July after the country's shock ouster
from the World Cup.
Ozil was the target of xenophobic
comments after being photographed with Erdogan in May and the DFB was blamed
for bungling its response to the fracas.
Germany's vision for Euro 2024,
according to UEFA, "is rooted in the belief that football can unify
society and this tournament can create an enduring legacy for European
The polarising Turkish president
has massively developed football infrastructure during his 15 years in power
but has always come away empty-handed from bids for Turkey to host major
A victory on Thursday would
solidify his image as a man who can deliver, but his increasingly authoritarian
reputation has likely not helped his cause.
Rights groups have decried the
thousands of arrests that followed a failed 2016 coup.
UEFA's evaluation report noted
that "the lack of action plan in the area of human rights is a matter of
But European football's governing
body also praised the Turkish bid as being "in line with the long-term
objectives of UEFA."
Some have also suggested that
awarding the event to the Muslim-majority nation will carry huge symbolism on a
continent wrestling with religious tensions.
The vice chairman of the Turkish
Football Federation, Servet Yardimci, told AFP it was "high time" his
country hosted after four failed bids.
On human rights, he said Turkey
is a "signatory on treaties concerning human rights and respects them.
GERMANY THE FAVOURITE?
the contest between old reliable and uncharted waters, UEFA may choose to play
"Organising Euro-2020 in 12
different countries with different regulations is a nightmare," said a
source close to UEFA, who requested anonymity.
"For 2024, UEFA does not
want to take any risks and with Germany there is the assurance that everything
will be ready on time and will work perfectly," he added.
The source further noted that
commercial partnerships, notably for TV rights, could prove simpler in Germany.
"A lot of things are working
against Turkey," the source said.