Turkey are always exciting to watch during international tournaments with their passionate fans, choreographed play and occasional effervescence of magic, particularly during the reign of top goal-scoring Hakan Sükür
Be that as it may, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) have put forward three consecutive bids to host the UEFA European Championship and have come out short-handed each time. Looking to 2020, will history repeat itself?
The 2008 tag-team with 2004 European champions Greece was a really strong bid for Turkey. Nonetheless, they were eliminated, with the Austria-Switzerland duo overcoming Hungary to become hosts. Incidentally Turkey took revenge on the hosts in the groups stages knocking Switzerland out, and then moved on to the semi-finals where they lost thanks to a painful third goal to Germany in the dying seconds.
2012; another Euros, another promising bid. Yet the separate Turkish and Greek bids on this occasion were eliminated immediately. Poland-Ukraine, despite their long-standing reputation of fan-player racism, eventually went on to host, vanquishing bids from Croatia-Hungary and Italy. All in all, it was certainly a memorable tournament this year; some top moments include: England’s sore penalty outing against Italy in Kiev, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ‘goal of the tournament’ (that sensational volley) to open against France and Turk-German Mesut Özil’s penalty against Italy.
The 2016 bid was launched on the 9th March 2009. Could Turkey pick themselves back up and actually host a European Championship? The answer, simply, was no. France, who already presented the 1960 and 1998 World Cups (when Emmanuel Petit gloriously contributed a third goal in the last minute against a limping Brazilian side) were triumphant for the third time after hosting the 1960 and 1984 Euros. Turkey tearfully lost the vote by one point, 7-6, in the final round.
Earlier this year, on 17th April 2012 the TFF were the first federation to confirm their bid to receive Euro 2020. Rival options are from, firstly a three way collaboration between host nations Wales and Scotland with Ireland, and secondly from Eastern European double-act Azerbaijan–Georgia. Worryingly, Turkey, and the other nations, may not even get the chance to accommodate the tournament if UEFA President Michel Platini’s (FRA) decision for European city-wide hosts is approved in January or February 2013. This could be an interesting move for the tournament, yet there is something special in having national identity and home support connected to the event.
Historically decisions could have gone against Turkey due to certain issues that have plagued its past:
1) Platini was criticised for being anti-Turkish, using his French bias during the Euro 2016 bidding process. For example, he introduced then President Sarkozy to the whole decision-making committee, whereas the same gesture was not extended to Turkish President Abdullah Gül.
Ex-Turkish national team manager Hiddink quarrelled, ‘This proves that once again that in top-flight football the game is run by politics. I get the feeling the actual bid was about other things’.
2) Just as Italy were allegedly eliminated as hosts of Euro 2012, for match-fixing scandals in 2006, this also plagued Turkey in 2011. Cases of bribery, extortion and organised crime led to Fenerbahçe chairman Aziz Yildirim being sentenced for up to 6 years, as well as players like Nigerian Emenike being sold on after receiving match-bans.
Platini reinforced in June 2012, ‘UEFA has zero tolerance for clubs and players involved in match fixing, because this is what kills football’.