Germany beats Turkey to host Euro 2024
Last updated: October 3, 2018 by Leon Marshal
Germany have been awarded the rights to host Euro 2024. The UEFA president announced that the executive committee had chosen Germany over the only other candidate Turkey. Was it right to award the event to Germany or have UEFA taken the easy option and missed a golden opportunity to make football more inclusive?
The news that UEFA had decided to award Germany the Euros in 2024 wouldn’t have come as much of a surprise to many people. After all, German football along with English, Spanish and Italian leagues are undoubtedly the best in Europe, but was this decision based what is best for football and its footballing nations or a case of picking the safe option to appease one of the “big boys”?
Back in December of 2010, the majority of experts, fans, players and analysts were shocked when Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 edition of the World Cup. Qatar is a small Middle Eastern Muslim country with just 1.7m people and had just beaten the mighty USA as well as Australia, South Korea and Japan for the right to host the biggest sporting event on the planet.
USA already had the stadiums, the infrastructure, and the experience as they had staged the World Cup in 1994. That was deemed a highly successful event that drew in huge crowds despite football (or soccer if you like) often playing second fiddle to more popular sports with the American public such as baseball, basketball and the NFL.
However, FIFA declared that the small Gulf state would be their preferred bid and when the first round of voting took place Qatar took an incredible 50% of the vote. In the final round of voting, they overcame the USA bid by 14 votes to 8.
Only after awarding the event to Qatar did the realities of the staging the event in summer become so apparent.
FIFA executive board member Theo Zwanziger was one of the many dissenting voices, publically stating that although the stadiums in Qatar would be air-conditioned, it was his opinion that the area was too hot to stage the competition and spectators would die as a result. A comment FIFA quickly dismissed, saying that Zwanziger’s comments were his own personal opinion and not the views of the FIFA Executive Committee.
Fast forward four years and even corrupt (more on that later) Sepp Blatter admitted awarding the event to Qatar was a mistake and stated that the FIFA’s technical report indicated clearly that it is too hot in summer, but the executive committee with quite a big majority decided all the same that the tournament would be in Qatar. So the decision to move the World Cup to the winter months was made, the first time this has happened in the history of the World Cup. It is now due to take place between 21st November and the 18th of December in 2022. This change causes havoc with domestic footballing schedules globally.
Hardly an easy option!
2018 World Cup in Russia
If Qatar was a surprise, equally surprising was the choice of Russia hosting the 2018 World Cup. Like Qatar, awarding Russia the event didn’t seem to make any sense.
The parallels between the two countries were there for all to see. Neither had world class stadia, both countries lacked the infrastructure – with Russia especially difficult to travel around – and they both are not exactly torch bearers for democracy.
The human rights issues of both countries was also highly questioned, especially on topics such as gay rights and working conditions for mainly migrant workers who were drafted in to build the stadiums and infrastructure. With Russia there was also the issue of hooliganism which had been prevalent in Euro 2016 and the World Cup in 2018.
Hardly an easy option! This is why the decision to award Germany Euro 2024 raises questions.
At best, it demonstrates that football’s powers that be have learnt from their mistakes and understand that much of the money spent on the development of facilities often becomes a white elephant for the country, hardly used after the event and soon in a state of disrepair, as the less affluent countries cannot afford to maintain them.
At worst, it adds more credence to the allegations that the Qatar and Russian bids were highly suspicious. If the footballing higher powers wanted to bring events to the less developed nations, why the sudden change of heart?
Some people will argue that FIFA and UEFA are separate entities and the previous World Cup awards are nothing to do with UEFA, but with former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini both serving bans for “criminal mismanagement” and “misappropriation”, it’s a difficult argument to make.
It’s easy to feel sorry for Turkey. Germany have after all hosted the 1974 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 1988, the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the 1989 UEFA European Women’s Championship, 1995 UEFA European Women’s Championship, 2001 UEFA European Women’s Championship and the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Turkey have never hosted a major footballing event in either the men’s or women’s game, yet like Germany, the Turks are football mad. There is a lot in common between the concerns of Russia hosting the World Cup and Turkey hosting the Euros, yet the World Cup this year in Russia was a fantastic spectacle and none of the anticipated trouble happened. It was undoubtedly one of the best World Cups in living memory.
Perhaps Turkey, given the chance, could have also proved the doubters wrong and pulled off a great event. Hopefully they will one day get the chance, although I think that’s as likely as England hosting the 2030 World Cup unfortunately!