Geneva, May 28 (DPA) France will host football’s European Championships in 2016 after beating rivals Italy and Turkey in a vote Friday.
The French bid was chosen in Geneva by UEFA’s executive committee and announced by the organization’s president, Michel Platini, who captained France to the title as hosts in 1984.
France was regarded as favourite to win the bid but the final vote was close.
Italy was eliminated after the first round of voting, and France edged Turkey by 7 votes to 6 in the deciding ballot.
Platini, who was not involved in the deliberation and voting process, praised ‘exceptional bids’ and said French football would be breathing ‘a sigh of relief’ at winning the vote.
France plans to build four new stadiums for Euro 2016 which will see the number of teams taking part rise for the first time from 16 to 24, with 51 matches over one month.
The French government has pledged to help guarantee the tournament which will see a projected total investment of some 1.7 billion euros ($2.10 billion).
France will choose nine venues from a list of 12: Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nancy, Nice, Paris (Parc de Princes and Saint-Denis), Saint-Etienne, Strasbourg and Toulouse.
The new stadiums are planned in Nice, Bordeaux, Lyon and Lille, with seven major stadium renovations.
French Football Federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes said: ‘I want first to thank our friends from Italy and Turkey. I feel for them and the feelings of frustration and sadness after months of work and I wish Italian and Turkish football good luck.
‘For us it is a moment of intense emotions, given that in 2016 we will welcome European football to France.
‘We will fulfil our promises and we thank our friends on the executive committee at UEFA. They have put their trust in us and that’s what counts for us. This is a beautiful day for us.’
France had been regarded as a safe option UEFA after the problems surrounding the co-hosting of the 2012 tournament by Poland and Ukraine.
A UEFA delegation was in Ukraine this week to see whether the country could still deliver on original plans to host matches in four venues.
France has previously hosted the World Cup in 1938 and 1998, winning the latter competition, hosted the first European Championships in 1960, when it was known as the European Nations Cup, and triumphed on home soil at the 1984 tournament.
Turkey has never hosted a major football tournament. But the country’s football officials had hoped that fact – and its geographic location straddling both Asia and Europe – would work in its favour.
Italy, the 1980 European and 2000 World Cup host, were left disappointed for a second time after it also lost out on on Euro 2012.