LONDON (Reuters) - Turkey does not regret turning down hosting the final week of Euro 2020 and its decision can be vindicated by earning the right to stage the 2024 tournament, said the vice-president of the country’s football federation (TFF).
The gateway nation between Europe and Asia has never hosted a major soccer tournament, bidding unsuccessfully to jointly stage Euro 2008 with Greece and the 2012 and 2016 tournaments which were went to Poland/Ukraine and France.
After losing to France by one vote, Turkey was offered the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 — a tournament which will be staged across 12 cities in 12 nations — says TFF vice-president Servet Yardimci, a UEFA Executive Committee member.
Instead they told then UEFA president Michel Platini, who backed Turkey’s 2016 bid, they would rather hold out for 2024.
The Turkish bid, based in nine cities from Istanbul in the west to Trabzon in the east and Gaziantep in the south, is up against Germany with the decision on Sept. 27.
“We were given the semis and final (of 2020) but we said no because Turkey is ready and able to do the whole tournament rather than just a week,” Yardimci told reporters at a briefing in London to outline the bid.
“We were offered it first instead of England. We were upset we lost 2016 and we said we deserve to be able to have the whole tournament and we would wait, we would be patient.”
The multi-nation 2020 structure was Platini’s brainchild but Yardimci believes it will be a one-off.
“The 2020 concept has some pluses and minuses but I think at the end of the day you will have more minuses than pluses,” he said. “After 2020 we’ll go back to a normal level.
“There are question marks. It will have some logistical and planning complications. It will be successful but not as successful as organising in one country.”
Germany withdrew from bidding for the Euro 2020 semis-finals and final to concentrate on a 2024 bid — allowing England to host the tournament’s climax at Wembley.
While Germany’s slickly-organised 2006 World Cup finals will stand in its favour, Yardimci says Turkey is ready to host the tournament ‘today’ if it needed to.
“Turkey is a new frontier for UEFA, it can take it to places it has never been before,” he said. “It will be a ‘global’ Euro 2024 because of our unique location.”
Yardimci said eight stadiums are already complete with work beginning on the Ankara stadium set to commence next week.
“When we handed in our bid in 2010 (for 2016) we gave our promises and commitments to UEFA about what we would deliver. Eight years past we have exceeded our promises.
“We are ready to host 2024 today.”
He also allayed security fears after Turkey’s failed coup in 2016 and host city Gaziantep’s close proximity to Syria.
“The Turkish Government is tackling the safety issues very well and are very experienced,” he said.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar