KEIR RADNEDGE in KYIV: Turkish sports leaders were given a very clear signal here today that they are more likely to land the Olympic Games for Istanbul in 2020 than bring home football’s European Championship finals that same year.
The dissatisfaction among European football federation leaders – and president Michel Platini in particular – over the way in which the Turks have played both ends against the middle emerged starkly from his comments in the Ukrainian capital.
Turkey had missed out on hosting Euro 2016 by one vote (to France) and had been first to express an interest – earlier this year – in bidding for 2020. However, despite encouragement from Platini at UEFA’s spring Congress in Istanbul, the Turks had also pushed ahead with their Olympic bid.
Both Platini and International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge have always been firmly unanimous in insisting that the Turks could have only the one (or none).
In late May Istanbul was promoted to the Olympic bid shortlist by the IOC along with Madrid and Tokyo. This established it as possible favourite when the IOC comes to vote in September 2013, some six months before UEFA had been due to make a decision on Euro 2020.
However, Platini’s shock revelation today that UEFA is considering spreading the 2020 finals across up to a dozen cities across Europe was a clear rebuff to the Turks.
Pressed further on the Turkish complication, Platini snapped: “It’s an ambiguous situation because they have an interest in not only the European Championship but also the Olympics.
“Istanbul is now on the shortlist for the Olympics and this is a problem for the [UEFA] executive committee. We’re not going to wait for the IOC decision. It’s not going to be like that. There are a lot of countries who can come forward as candidates to host Euro 2020. Now we have invited everyone.
“This is a little bit the responsibility of Turkey: they’re also going for the Olympics so our executive committee decided to open Euro 2020 up to everyone or even play it all over Europe. We could have one host city in Turkey if they don’t have the Olympic Games there.”
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