NYON, Switzerland (Reuters) - Germany will host the Euro 2024 soccer tournament after comfortably beating the only other bidders Turkey in a two-horse contest on Thursday.
Germany, which previously staged the event as West Germany in 1988 and successfully held the 2006 World Cup, won the vote among UEFA’s executive committee after a four-year campaign which, for the first time, featured human rights as one of the specific bid criteria.
Germany received 12 of the 17 votes with four for Turkey and one abstention.
The decision, announced by UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, was a bitter disappointment for Turkey who have yet to stage a major football tournament and also failed with bids to host the event in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
“The procedure was transparent, the vote was democratic. Every democratic decision is the right decision,” Ceferin said.
“I know that Germany will be fantastic hosts and that we will see a wonderful tournament both on and off the pitch.”
The tournament, featuring 24 teams, will revert to its conventional format of being held in a single host country in 2024. The Euro 2020 tournament will be staged in cities around the continent to celebrate its 60th anniversary.
The vote was a big boost for the troubled German FA which has had to deal with a poor World Cup performance, falling ticket sales for international matches and midfielder Mesut Ozil’s decision to quit the German team, citing “racism and disrespect” over his Turkish roots.
“We have amazing stadiums, fans who love football, first and foremost we have people who love celebrating with other Europeans,” said former Germany captain Philipp Lahm, an ambassador for the German bid.
“We will organise a huge football party in Germany.”
Germany plans to stage the tournament in 10 cities - Berlin, Munich, Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Duesseldorf, Cologne, Leipzig and Frankfurt.
“We saw in 2006 in Germany how people came together and it was a big party. We will do the best to feel the same in six years,” Germany coach Joachim Loew told reporters, who remained in his job despite his team’s unhappy World Cup campaign in Russia.
“It will be a great motivation for our young players because they can see that in six years’ time there will be a tournament at home.”
The decision came at a bad time for Turkey which, after years of breakneck growth, is in crisis, its heavy foreign debt load increased by the Turkish lira’s 40 percent slide this year.
Turkey’s human rights record has also been under scrutiny since an attempted coup in July, 2016.
UEFA said in its evaluation of the two bids, published before the vote, that Turkey’s “lack of an action plan in the area of human rights is a matter of concern.”
Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond and Pritha Sarkar