France plan stadium overhaul to host Euro 2016

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PARIS - France football chiefs are ready to invest 1.7 billion euros to build the stadiums fit to stage Euro 2016 but concede they are not favourites to win the go-ahead this week by governing body UEFA.

Turkey and Italy, also in the running before UEFA's verdict scheduled for Friday, are certainly not taken lightly by French Football Federation (FFF) communications director Pierre-Jean Golven.

"We know we have our chances and have a strong bid but we remain very humble," Golven told Reuters in an interview.

Appropriate infrastructure, a much-needed plan to build and renovate stadiums and a network of potential volunteers coming from the country's many football clubs are the reasons why France can be reasonably confident, he said.

"We think those are our three main trump cards," Golven added.

France are hoping a successful Euro 2016 bid will help them address the stadium issue, with many arenas in the country too old or too small, and are planning to invest a massive 1.7 billion euros in that programme alone.

"This is more than what Germany invested for the 2006 World Cup and 60 percent of that money will come from private investors, which is a guarantee in times of crisis making public money harder to get," Golven said.

MAJOR EVENTS

France have demonstrated they are capable of organising major events by staging the 1998 football World Cup and the 2007 rugby World Cup, as well as the world athletics championships in 2003 and the world Alpine skiing championships last year.

"We were also able to give UEFA guarantees in terms of security and infrastructure and we can assure them that the event would be profitable if it were staged in France," Golven said.

European football's ruling body were also assured that the French government totally supported the bid when a UEFA delegation met President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Francois Fillon during an inspection visit in March.

"I think they received all the guarantees they needed," Golven said.

A successful bid, he added, would also boost employment.

"It would create 15,000 jobs in the building and renovation phase and 4,000 stable ones after the championship to operate the stadiums," he said.

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