KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —– Germany will host the finals of the 2024 European Championship after beating Turkey in a vote staged by the UEFA executive committee.
The 2024 finals will see the 24-team tournament return to a single host system after the derided, one-off pan-European staging scheduled for 2020.
The last time the finals were held on German territory was by the former Federal Republic in 1988, two years before reunification. Turkey has never yet staged a major football tournament though Istanbul hosted the Champions League Final in 2005 and will do so again in 2020. This was their fourth failure in pursuit of the European Championship showdown.
UEFA’s own report on the bids identified several specific advantages leading exco members towards favouring Germany by a decisive 12 votes to four with one abstention and one absentee through illness. Previously Turkey had lost out to France for 2016 by only one vote.
Success offers Germany an opportunity to make amends for the tainted legacy of the 2006 World Cup which was hailed as a huge success at the time but whose bid success has since been dogged by scandal and financial controversy.
Lost in comparison
A further notable difference concerned internal transport.
Germany offered a solid road, rail and air network but, as for Turkey, UEFA noted 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.”
Human rights presented the widest chasm between the rivals.
Against an unstated but evident Turkish context of increasing repression on journalistic and other freedoms, UEFA’s report was unequivocal in stating bluntly that “the lack of an action plan in the area of human rights is a matter for concern.”
This was 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 assessed the bid from the DFB as “comfortably [meeting] overall expectations when it comes to political aspects, social responsibility, sustainability and human rights.”
A further, not insignficant caveat for Turkey, was a restriction on alcohol advertising which “might be a potential conflict if a sponsorship agreement is signed with a beer company.”
For German football, this success in the corridors of power will be welcomed as a consolation after the poor performance out on the pitch at the World Cup in Russia this summer when the holders were knocked out in the group stage.