New-look Euro won’t change Turkey’s plans
ISTANBUL / NYON
UEFA President and former French captain Michel Platini came up with the plan to stage the Euro 2020 in different countries to tackle both the financial problems. Turkey was the only country that opposed to the Frenchman’s plan. AP photoTop names in the Turkish sports scene denied that the country’s commitment to its Olympic bid would be affected by the UEFA decision to stage the Euro 2020 in different countries.
On Dec. 6, UEFA’s executive committee gave the green light to holding the European Football Championships in 2020 across the continent.
Turkey declared itself a candidate for the Euro 2020, while Istanbul was also in contention against Tokyo and Madrid for hosting the Summer Olympic Games in 2020.
“Actually, the decision was not a surprise. There were statements from UEFA signaling their intent,” Turkish Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç said. “The decision will not directly affect Turkey’s commitment to the Olympics.
“There are three candidates for the 2020 Olympic Games: Madrid, Tokyo and Istanbul. Istanbul is the strongest candidate for the 2020 Games, and we are working hard to support our bid.”
Turkish National Olympic Committee (TMOK) chairman Uğur Erdener echoed the minister’s sentiments.
“We could see [the UEFA decision] coming,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview. “I don’t see it affecting Istanbul’s Olympic bid.
“What matters most is our own organization. Right now we are preparing our bid book, which will be delivered on Jan. 7, 2013, and will include important factors of our project. That is what we are focusing on.”
Former French captain Michel Platini, who is president of UEFA, first mooted the idea of holding the tournament in a number of cities earlier this year, as a way of avoiding high costs at a time of dire financial constraints in many countries.
As one of the three candidates for the Euro 2020, along with a joint bid from Azerbaijan and Georgia, and a three-way bid from the Republic of Ireland, Wales and Scotland, Turkey was the only country opposed to Platini’s project.
Istanbul was also running against Tokyo and Madrid for the 2020 Olympic Games, and its double attack on top sports events was not welcomed by the authorities of either side. Both Platini and International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge criticized Turkey’s intention to run for both events.
FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke earlier said that he failed to grasp the concept of a continent-wide tournament, saying it would destroy the competition.
Platini acknowledged on Dec. 7 that the project needs an “intelligent solution” to create a 51-match schedule that avoids “chasing fans all over Europe” to watch their teams.
“We can’t have England fans going to Lisbon and Kazakhstan and then Sweden,” he said.
Platini said UEFA recognized there was a problem when only “50 French and 70 Spaniards” came to some Euro 2012 matches. “It was difficult to go to Poland and Ukraine,” the former French great said. “Now the Euro is going toward the fans.”