Turkey's turn to host Euros, says football chief

by Pirate IRWIN
Turkey fans at Euro 2016 in France

Turkey has earned the right to host the European Football Championship as it goes head to head with Germany in the battle to stage the 2024 tournament, said federation vice-president Servet Yardimci.

Yardimci, who is also on UEFA's executive committee, said the country was the only one of Europe's six biggest economies that had not yet hosted the continental championship.

Having lost out to France by one vote for the 2016 edition and then withdrawn from the bid to host the semi-finals and final of the multi-nation 2020 tournament, Turkey is up against stiff competition in Germany, with the vote taking place at UEFA headquarters in Switzerland on September 27.

Yardimci told reporters in London that Turkish authorities did not believe they had taken a gamble by declining the chance to host the climax to the 2020 edition.

"It was just a decision at the time, maybe we were upset we lost 2016 by one vote so we said we deserve to have the whole tournament," he said.

"We said we will wait, we are patient. We made it clear we would be ready and prepared for the whole tournament. We are the sixth strongest economy in Europe, out of which Turkey is the only one not to host the tournament."

Yardimci said he did not believe the enforced departure of disgraced former UEFA president Michel Platini had harmed the chances of the country, making its fourth bid for the Euros.

Platini, who was banned for eight years (since reduced to four) from football for receiving an illegal payment from former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter, had pledged to support a Turkish bid after Turkey lost out to France.

"Platini's successor Aleksander Ceferin is a great guy, very serious and really determined," said Yardimci. "He always says this is going to be interesting and difficult, two powerful nations are bidding.

"The advantage to Turkey is we think our bid is the best we have delivered so far but Germany is a powerful opponent whom we respect. Turkey is also a powerful nation and can deliver maybe better than Germany."

Yardimci downplayed concerns over Turkey's human rights record.

A state of emergency was introduced following an attempted coup in July 2016 and more than 1,300 associations and foundations have been shut down under the measures.

"Turkey does respect the human rights treaty. We have signed it and continue to comply with it," said Yardimci.

"Turkey in eight years has grown and developed as much as it would have developed in 80 years, it is a strong developing country."

Yardimci said eight stadiums were already fit for purpose, adding: "Turkey are ready now to host the tournament, we have exceeded our promises and commitments."

Turkey fans at Euro 2016 in France