The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) has confirmed the country’s intention to get over its Olympic disappointment by landing the final stages of UEFA Euro 2020, as a number of national associations declared their intentions ahead of today’s deadline for initial applications.
The TFF has made an official application to UEFA to host the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 at İstanbul’s Atatürk Olympic Stadium. Istanbul lost out in its bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games on Saturday and will now be considered a strong favourite to land the showpiece package of UEFA’s novel concept for its leading national team competition. UEFA in January formalised its ambitious plan for a Euro 2020 tournament spread across 13 cities on the continent, with president Michel Platini stating Turkey was his preferred choice to land the semi-finals and final of the competition. The idea to spread the football tournament across Europe was first suggested by Platini in June 2012 after a lukewarm response to the governing body’s deadline of May for expressions of interest in hosting the tournament. The ‘Euro for Europe’ vision foresees that matches will be split into 13 different packages, with 12 ordinary packages including three group matches and one knockout round (round of 16 or quarter-finals), and one package for the semi-finals and the final.
The TFF presented the only solid bid for Euro 2020 in its traditional guise, but questions marks surrounded how the proposal would fit in with Istanbul’s tilt at the 2020 Olympic Games. In February 2012, UEFA was forced to dismiss reports that Platini had promised Turkey it would stage Euro 2020. Turkish media had reported that Platini issued assurances to the TFF that it would succeed with what would be its fourth successive bid for the European Championships. The reports came after France landed Euro 2016 ahead of Turkey in acrimonious circumstances in May 2010. Turkish officials were angered when UEFA’s Executive Committee voted 7-6 in favour of France after Italy’s bid was eliminated in the first round. While Platini didn’t have a vote or take part in the final presentations, Turkey believed he favoured his home country in what was a politicised election process. Platini in January said Turkey was his favoured choice to host the final and both semi-finals of Euro 2020. However, he said a Turkish bid would be “out of the question” if Istanbul was chosen as the host of the 2020 Olympics.
In other bid news, the Belgian Football Association (URBSFA/KBVB) on Wednesday said that it would propose Brussels as a venue for Euro 2020 after an agreement over a new stadium was reached between the Flemish, Brussels and federal governments. It has been joined by the Dutch Football Association (KNVB), which has elected to put forward Amsterdam as its candidate ahead of Rotterdam. The Hungarian and Serbian FAs have also proposed Budapest and Belgrade respectively, joining the list of national bodies that have already declared their intentions. Countries have until today to submit Euro 2020 bids to UEFA with European football’s governing body set to formally verify applications on September 20 before making a decision over host cities in September 2014.