Minister: Turkey would bring passion to Euro 2016

ISTANBUL - Turkey would bring a passion and spirit to Euro 2016 missing from the 2008 tournament, Sports Minister Faruk Nafiz Ozak told a campaign launch on Wednesday.

Turkey, bidding to host its first major international football tournament, faces competition from France and Italy after Sweden and Norway appear likely to drop their joint application.

"The organisation was wonderful at Euro 2008 in Switzerland and Austria, but it lacked spirit. Turkey can provide a fantastic mood because of the amazing love for football and passion of its people," Ozak said.

"Italy and France have an advantage because they organised the tournament twice before. But the enthusiasm we have because we have never staged it is also an advantage."

The Turkey football federation said it had the full backing of the president, the government and Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, a former semi-professional footballer.

It said nine stadiums in eight cities in western and central Turkey would host the games.

Istanbul hosted the UEFA Champions' League final in 2005 and the final of the UEFA Cup in 2009.

Turkey, a young emerging economy of 72 million, would also benefit economically and socially from hosting the tournament, football authorities said.

Bid dossiers for the first Euros to host 24 countries, must be presented to UEFA by February 15 with a decision due in May.