ISTANBUL: Turkish football officials and politicians have accepted that events over the past year have ruled out the country’s prospects of a role in helping host the European Championship finals in 2020 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Turkey came close to pipping France to host rights for Euro 2016 and had appeared favourites for 2020 until early last year.
However Istanbul was also bidding for the Olympic Games in 2020 and attempts by Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to play off UEFA against the International Olympic Committee upset both sports authorities.
Civil unrest in major Turkish cities last summer, including notably Istanbul, was followed by a football setback with disappointingly poor attendances across the country at the World Under-20 Cup.
Increasing international concern over the manner of Erdogan’s leadership – including his derisive comments and actions against social media networks – had further antagonised football and sponsors’ opinion.
Hence the Turkish federation announced today that it would not be bidding for either group matches or final in the pan-European Euro 2020 and would concentrate, instead, on preparing a ‘full tournament’ bid for 2024.
A statement said: “We believe Turkey is developing our sporting capacity with 13 stadia to meet the necessary criteria. Turkey also havs communication infrastructure, travel and accommodation facilities sufficient to host an entire competition.
“Hence our executive board has decided not to compete for the 2020 UEFA European Championship semi-final and final competitions but to start work on an ambition to stage the 2024 championships.”