KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Fall-out from the selection of Russia and Qatar to stage the 2018 and 2022 World Cups may prove to have exerted a significant effect on bidding for the 2024 European Championship.
Germany and Turkey are the two contenders between whom the executive committee of European federation UEFA will decide in Nyon, near Geneva, next Thursday afternoon. The 2024 event will bring the finals back into one host nation after the pan-European spread of the 2020 tournament.
The Germans are pursuing their first Euro hosting as a unified country after West Germany’s staging in 1988; the Turks are chasing their first major football tournament of any sort after missing out by one vote to France for 2016.
A significant extension of the bidding demands now incorporated into UEFA’s regulations concerns human rights.
This became a headline issue after the controversies generated by the Russia and Qatar World Cup awards concerning human rights in general and – for the Gulf state – employment conditions of foreign construction workers.
UEFA has published its report into both 2024 bids and praises the visions and planning proposals from Germany and Turkey.
It notes that Germany is proposing 10 existing stadia while Turkey is proposing seven existing stadia, two to be rebuilt and one to be renovated. Total capacity for the 51 matches in Germany would be 2,780,000 compaed with 2,290,000 in Turkey, not such a major difference.
One notable difference in hosting potential does concern internal transport.
Germany offers a solid road, rail and air network but, as for Turkey, UEFA notes that “travel relies on air transport . . and the scale of works to be undertaken in the given time frame constitutes a risk, especially in combination with the dependence on a few airports for international and domestic travel.”
However, human rights presents the widest chasm between the rivals.
Against an unstated but evident context of increasing repression on journalistic and other freedoms, UEFA is unequivocal in stating bluntly about Turkey that “the lack of an action plan in the area of human rights is a matter for concern.”
This is not the case with Germany, notwithstanding the controversy sparked by the angry retirement of Mesut Ozil from the national team after the World Cup debacle in Russia.
UEFA says that the bid from the DFB “comfortably meets overall expectations when it comes to political aspects, social responsibility, sustainability and human rights.”
One further caveat concerns Turkey’s restriction on alcohol advertising which “might be a potential conflict if a sponsorship agreement is signed with a beer company.”