A little buried under World Cup hype and Robbie Findley hysteria is the fact that UEFA will be selecting the host for Euro 2016 this Friday at its Executive Committee meeting in Nyon, choosing between Italy, France and Turkey.
We can rule out Italy from the three final bidders, with UEFA already having offered serious reservations about ticketing, transportation and stadia infrastructure plans in their bid. France might seem an obvious favourite with Michel Platini heading UEFA, but Platini cannot vote or take part in the final debate (and nor can his Turkish or Italian counterparts, of course).
Turkey would be a bold choice and would better match, in fact, Platini’s own efforts to reach out more away from the traditional western European strongholds of UEFA.
And remember, from 2016, the European Championship will expand to a slightly absurd 24 teams, increasing the demands on the host considerably. This piece gives us a good overview of the financial states of each bid, and it’s perhaps surprising to learn that Turkey “only” needs to spend 920 million Euros to prepare for the finals, compared to 1.7 billion Euros for the French, who hosted a World Cup just twelve years ago.
Despite this, the general consensus appears to be that Turkey is the riskier choice, but with much greater upside for European football than choosing France to host their third UEFA championship. The biggest event Turkey has hosted is the 2005 UEFA Champions League final.
World Football Insider has a good overview of Turkey’s bid, concluding that:
Expansion of UEFA’s flagship tournament into a new territory and the chance to grow the game in Turkey makes this the most attractive bid. But it’s also the most risky, with seven stadiums planned and massive infrastructure projects to complete. Turkey would be up against the clock if it were awarded the championships. But the government’s guarantees to provide 100% of the estimated total investment are an important and persuasive element of the bid. However, the Ukraine factor may ultimately count against them. The 2012 co-host’s trouble-hit preparations have been a major headache for UEFA and the governing body might look for a safer option this time around.
Concerns over Turkey because of Ukraine’s rather unique problems are harsh, however. Giving Euro 2016 to Turkey would be a major spur for the sport in that country. France has hosted two World Cups and two European championships already; little is to be gained for football’s development by going there again.