Having narrowly missed out on Euro 2016, Turkey today threw its hat into the ring for the European Championships in 2020.
With the final vote not due until 2014, there is still time for other applications but the large nation at the crossroads of two continents looks the front-runner, boasting a large population, growing infrastructure and the emotional claim of never having hosted the tournament before.
The expansion of the Euro 2016 from 16 to 24 teams, means the list of countries capable of being a host nation has also inevitably shrunken. Previous bids such as that of Hungary & Croatia for 2012 or exploratory bids like that of Scotland & Ireland or Norway & Sweden look impossible in the future. The days of a Sweden hosting Euro '92 are long gone.
France has ten stadia in place for hosting the tournament four years from now; Turkey at present has one stadium of 83,000 capacity, three holding more than 50,000 and two of 30,000+. Their 2016 bid planned seven new arenas with five renovated ones to complete a total of ten grounds with three in reserve.
Italy may try again after failing to land 2012, as could Germany, rumoured to have been the reserve host for this year. Spain, the reigning kings of football, have not hosted a major tournament since 1982, while Russia's powerful claims will probably have to sit out 2020 having hosted the World Cup in 2018.
“We are currently in the process of building state-of-the-art stadiums across the country," Turkish F.A. chief Yildirim Demiroren announced, "and huge developments have been made in improving the transportation networks between cities in Turkey."
What could scupper the Turkish delight however is a simultaneous bid from Istanbul to host the 2020 Olympic Games. That will be decided a year before the Euro vote in 2013 but already it seems plain that both tournaments cannot be hosted in the same summer.
UEFA Michel Platini has already stated that it is the Olympics or Euros for Turkey in 2020, and with no other bidders on the table yet for Euro 2016, will be secretly praying one of Baku, Doha, Madrid or Tokyo pip the Turks in the Olympic race.
(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile
Euro 2012 football