Nyon (Switzerland) (AFP) – Having lifted the World Cup in 2014, Philipp Lahm now hopes to bring Euro 2024 finals to Germany on Thursday when UEFA announce the hosts for the European Championships.
After retiring last year, ex-national team captain Lahm, 34, is head of Germany’s bid to host Euro 2024 against rivals Turkey, the only other nation seeking to host the event in six years time.
The announcement is expected to be made at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, around 1300 GMT on Thursday.
“We are a football nation and our fans always want to show their passion for football,” declared Lahm.
Germany want to stage their first Euro as a unified country, West Germany having hosted the event in 1988.
Turkey are hoping to be awarded their first major football tournament after missing out to France by one vote for the right to host Euro 2016.
– German advantages –
Nevertheless, Germany has a clear advantage in terms of stadiums and transport.
Their official bid sees 10 existing stadia ready to host the 2024 finals, while Turkey will need to rebuild and renovate two of their proposed stadiums.
While 2.29 million fans could watch the Euro 2024 games in Turkey, based on maximum capacities, the German bid can offer seats for 2.78m supporters.
That means more revenue from ticket sales and the Germans also steal a march in terms of transport.
Germany offers a reliable road, rail and air network ready to whisk visiting fans between host cities.
However, as the UEFA reports notes, in Turkey, “travel relies on air transport and the scale of works to be undertaken in the given time frame constitutes a risk”.
Human rights issues present the widest chasm between the rivals.
UEFA is unequivocal in bluntly stating Turkey’s “lack of an action plan in human rights is a matter for concern” under their President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
There are no such concerns in Angela Merkel’s Germany, but accusations of “racism and disrespect” by Mesut Ozil in July harmed the DFB’s (German Football Association) image of harmonious integration.
Arsenal star Ozil, born in Germany to Turkish parents, specifically took aim at DFB president Reinhard Grindel when he retired from international duty after Germany’s disastrous World Cup performance.
Undeterred by the saga, Lahm wants to see Germany host a football carnival for the first time since the 2006 World Cup — which Germans affectionately dubbed ‘the summer fairytale’.
Football-mad Germany became a month-long party as rival fans soaked up the action under blue skies, toasting success or drowning their sorrows in the nation’s packed beer gardens.
– Tarnished fairytale –
However, the fairytale became a tarnished nightmare for the German FA in October 2015 when magazine Der Spiegel revealed 10 million Swiss francs (6.7 million euros of the time) had been used to buy votes from FIFA officials.
Some FIFA delegations suddenly switched their vote, allowing Germany to beat the South African bid by 12 votes to 11, when the decision was made in 2000.
After Spiegel uncovered the scandal, a criminal investigation followed into the senior organisers, including German legend Franz Beckenbauer, which is still on going.
In 2016, an external report by the law firm Freshfields, commissioned by the DFB, reinforced the doubt by concluding: “we have not found evidence of vote buying but we can not exclude it”.
The accusations of the corruption still rankle in German football.
On Friday, Stuttgart funs unfurled giant banners, stating “United by money – corrupt in the heart of Europe” and “Good chance to buy another tournament”, during a Bundesliga game.
The messages will have caused embarrassed glances in the corridors of the DFB.
Nevertheless, Lahm is unfazed.
“We are a country which is prepared to put on special events,” he said.
“We have all the infrastructure, maybe with just a little reworking, but everything is in place.
“We are an extremely hospitable nation as we showed in hosting the World Cup in 2006.”
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