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Turkey claims to be favourite to host Euro final

Football federation chief claims Istanbul is set for 2020 showpiece

Gulf News

Dubrovnik, Croatia: Turkey believes it is “top of the list” to host the 2020 European Championship final after Istanbul lost the 2020 Olympics race.

Uefa President Michel Platini pledged his conditional support in January for Istanbul getting the elite final and semi-finals hosting package, Emre Alkin, the Turkish Football Federation general secretary, said on Wednesday.

“It is all about the promises and Mr Platini in a face-to-face conversation promised us — and I underline that, promised us — that if we don’t get the Olympic Games we will surely have the final package,” Alkin said.

Platini’s long-standing support for Turkey, since his native France edged it to host Euro 2016, was initially for staging the 24-team tournament alone in 2020.

That project was complicated by Turkey’s government committing to bid for the Olympics scheduled just weeks after Uefa’s marquee tournament. The IOC chose Tokyo this month.

“As far as I am concerned, yes,” Platini said in January of backing Istanbul in a Euro 2020 vote involving his 17-member Uefa executive committee. “For the other members, I don’t know.”

Uefa is expected to announce on Friday who are the formal applicants to host matches at Euro 2020, which will be played in 13 countries.

Alkin said he expects “three or four, including Turkey” of Uefa’s 54-member countries to compete for the final package.

“Spain is ready but reluctant to bid. Germany says, ‘If you are very positive, I won’t bid. Not to break your heart’,” the Turkish official said on the sidelines of a four-day summit of Uefa stakeholders. “Hungary likes to have it. Why not? They have the ability and the capacity. But in seven years? It’s too much money.”

Uefa chooses the winner next September, plus 12 cities which will each stage three group matches and a knockout round match.