ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish newspapers slammed UEFA’s choice of Germany to host the Euro 2024 soccer tournament, saying the country’s fourth failed bid was a stab in the back by Europe’s soccer bosses.
UEFA’s executive committee voted 12-4 in favour of Germany hosting the competition on Thursday, hours after President Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Berlin on a visit aimed at improving strained ties. Turkey was the only other bidder.
At a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, Erdogan left a question about the decision unanswered, but his Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Kasapoglu said that the decision was “saddening for UEFA and the Euro 2024”.
Turkey’s newspapers were not as diplomatic, accusing UEFA of siding with racism in reference to Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil’s resignation from the national team. Ozil said he had faced racism over his Turkish background – a charge denied by the football association.
“It’s not fair, UEFA supported racism,” said pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak.
Several newspapers also accused UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin of swaying the vote in favour of Germany. “We were shot in the back,” said another pro-government newspaper, Vatan.
It said Yildirim Demiroren, an ally of Erdogan who is also the chairman of Turkey’s Football Federation (TFF) and the Demiroren media group, lashed out at Ceferin after the decision.
“(He) stabbed us in the back,” said Milliyet, owned by Demiroren’s group. “The number one actor responsible for us losing at the table is Ceferin,” it said.
The Hurriyet daily, also owned by Demiroren’s group, said Ceferin had swayed support which stood at 9-5 in Turkey’s favour on the eve of the vote by calling delegates to convince them to vote for Germany. “We lost it in one night,” it said.
A UEFA report ahead of the decision had said that while there were several positive aspects to Turkey’s bid, it also carried risks in areas such as human rights – which was featured for the first time as a one of the bid criteria.
Turkey, which also failed with attempts to host the event in 2008, 2012 and 2016, still has a bid in to host the 2026 Winter Olympics in its northeastern province of Erzurum, after losing its bid to host the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ece Toksabay, Editing by Dominic Evans, William Maclean)