France chosen to host Euro 2016 football championship
The UEFA executive committee has chosen France as the host nation for Euro 2016, beating out rivals Italy and Turkey at a ceremony in Geneva on Friday.
Eighteen years after hosting the World Cup, France will once again welcome one of football’s most prestigious sporting events when it hosts the UEFA European Football Championship in 2016. After the elimination of Italy from among the three finalists, France beat out rival Turkey by just one vote, winning over seven of the 13 judges.
The €21 billion the Turkish authorities earmarked for improving the country’s infrastructure and to build new stadiums was not enough to convince the UEFA executive committee to grant it the coveted award. Faced with the ambitious renovation plans of its rival, France submitted a dossier that impressed with its certitudes and sobriety. After the numerous delays engendered by Poland’s plans to host the event in 2012, the relative safety of the French bid no doubt contributed to its success.
Despite UEFA’s noting that it “lacked information regarding the public investment” planned for the event, France relied on the quality of its existing infrastructure, notably with regard to its public transport system and security considerations.
Stadiums to be renovated
In order to properly accommodate the very first European championship to include 24 countries, compared to the 16 nations taking part in previous Euro tournaments, France will need to reexamine some key parts of its winning dossier. Despite their success in winning over the judges, UEFA nevertheless took the French football authorities to task on several points, notably the antiquated state of French stadiums.
The authorities will work in concert with clubs and private partners over the next few months on a modernisation project, which should benefit French football as a whole. Most of the 12 stadiums registered in the dossier should stand to benefit from considerable investment, the entirety of which is valued at some €1.7 billion. Plans are already in place to make improvements to the Vélodrome in Marseille, the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris and Marcel-Picot football stadium in Nancy.
Repairing the structures will allow for the creation of some 15,000 temporary jobs and another 4,000 permanent positions to ensure they are in top shape for 2016. A few minutes before the judges began their deliberations, French President Nicolas Sarkozy was invited to speak at the end of France’s presentation. Sarkozy spoke of the need to make Euro 2016 part of the “solution to the (economic) crisis” plaguing many of the competing countries.
In any case, today’s win should give French football clubs the chance to build new sports venues. And the results should be tangible: more spectators, more revenue. At least in theory.