Devastated Turkey reject risky tag

ISTANBUL - Turkey rejected the suggestion that it represented a risky option after being pipped by France in the race to stage Euro 2016 on Friday.

"We are devastated. This was our third bid so it is not much consolation to know that we lost by a small margin," Turkey's Euro 2016 bid manager Orhan Gorbon told Reuters from Geneva.

Turkey lost 7-6 in the final round of voting at the UEFA meeting in Geneva, failing by the narrowest of margins to win the right to stage a major football tournament for the first time.

The country also bid unsuccessfully for Euro 2008, in a joint effort with Greece, and Euro 2012.

The defeat came amid suggestions that France was a safer option following delays and problems in the run-up to Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

"I am totally against this statement. Losing is one thing but it is an underestimation of Turkey to say it was not capable of hosting a larger tournament, or it was to do with Ukraine," Gorbon said. "I don't understand why France should be seen as the safe option.

"I am also against any comparison of Turkey with Ukraine. Turkey also bid to host Euro 2012. The old bid documents are with UEFA and you can see how different they are," he said.

"There is no reason for this decision; perhaps it is simply that people feel closer to France."


Turkey pledged to spend 1 billion euros on stadiums, funded entirely by the government, and implement a 20-billion-euro plan to build motorways and high-speed railways.

The bid had received positive reviews after inspection visits.

"The first-time effect, the passionate people and national pride would help create extra enthusiasm," said the bid review presented to the executive committee and which also praised stadium projects.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Turkish President Abdullah Gul had both travelled to Switzerland to support their nations' bids.

UEFA vice president Senes Erzik of Turkey criticised UEFA's president Michel Platini of France for introducing Sarkozy but not Gul during the final presentations.

"What Platini did is not normal," Erzik told Turkish broadcaster NTV. "He should have treated each president the same way. He made a mistake... Platini should not have done this in the interests of fair play."

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