Is the Turkish plight when it comes to major tournaments about to end?


3) Most known is the fanaticalness demonstrated by some Turkish fans, including the use of flares, knives and flags. True, every nation and club has a hooliganistic contingent attached to it, yet extremist Galatasaray fans ‘UltrAslan’ and Fenerbahçe supporters ‘Kill For You’, have reputations of being violent due to their honour culture.

In 2000, two Leeds fans were stabbed to death before Galatasaray’s Champions League semi-final tie and the national team refused to wear respectful black arm bands, maybe due to the heated death threats they received. Later the perpetrator was released as the victims were deemed guilty of anti-Turkishness.

Four more Arsenal fans were stabbed following the Copenhagen-based clash with Galatasaray in the same competition. In May 2012, riot police were summoned to protect pitch-bound Galatasaray players after the stressful one-red-card-each one-point victory over Fenerbahçe in the Spor Toto Süper Liga.

4) Politically, Turkey has a problematic past – like any country really. Questions have been raised about its human rights record, persecution of religious minorities and over its international relations regarding the occupation of The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

5) Turkey may have been discarded as a viable host for various tournaments due to questions over the country’s infrastructure, where previously 80% of citizens lived below the poverty line. However, Istanbul has successfully hosted the 2005 Champions League Final, the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest and will present the U-20 World Cup in 2013. Currently Istanbul is being marketed in the next Bond film Skyfall as a sophisticated, cosmopolitan and über-modern European hub.

6) Paradoxically, Istanbul is regarded as the strongest candidate city for the 2020 Olympic Games and would consequently be the first Muslim city to entertain the world. Up against Tokyo and Madrid, Istanbul could be the final choice and the 24th nation ever to host the global event.

It lost out as one of the three candidate cities, to Sydney for the 2000 Games and to Beijing for 2008. In 2004 and 2012 Istanbul applied but was not named a candidate city, missing out to Athens and, three time representative, London respectively.

Olympic regulations deem that a city cannot host two major international tournaments in the same year. Hence Turkey may miss out yet again to host a European Championship. Platini expressed that ‘if they get the Games they won’t get the Euros’. Turkey could gain all by hosting either tournament or lose both; win win or lose lose. ‘They can carry on bidding for both if they want, but it’s their problem not mine,’ Platini affirmed.

We eagerly await the decision for the 2020 Olympic Games which occurs on 7th September 2013, the outcome of the Euro 2020 bid follows shortly after, late in 2013 or early 2014. In essence, even if Platini has appeared not to support previous Turkish bids, the TFF has every right to continue to promote itself as worthy, honourable European hosts and rightly so.

Perhaps they should focus their attention on a 2022 bid for the European Championship where a Turkish-held tournament in 2020 is looking progressively unlikely, as the Istanbul Olympic bid continues to grow in popularity. What is important is that the title of host for either tournament should not be awarded to Turkey out of sympathy for previous bid-rejections, but on how issues like fan-violence and infrastructure development are addressed in forthcoming years.

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