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May 28, 2010

France wins Euro 2016 vote

France has been chosen as the host nation for Euro 2016, beating rivals Italy and Turkey to the honour at a ceremony in Geneva on Friday afternoon.

UEFA president Michel Platini, who was not allowed to have an input in the bidding process, announced that his home country had won the right to host the tournament - the first to include 24 nations.

Platini said: "The position of the president of UEFA being French is complex and let me say we have had three exceptional bids. It was a very narrow decision - the work done by all three federations was outstanding, and I would like to congratulate the French.

"It has been a complicated situation from the outset and I believe there is a sigh of relief from French football, and they can now upgrade all their stadia to make them up to the same standard as other countries in Europe.

"It was not an easy situation for me - I am French, my name is Italian and I have many friends in Turkey. It was the same for Senes Erzik, the [Turkish] first vice-president of UEFA. But UEFA has proved once again that we have democracy.''

UEFA's executive committee favoured France over rival bids from Turkey and Italy, though the vote was close with the French delegation securing victory with a majority of one from 13 votes cast, after Italy had been eliminated in the first round of voting.

"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," French Football Federation (FFF) president Jean-Pierre Escalettes told UEFA.

"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 will host its first major finals since the 1998 World Cup, which Les Bleus won when beating Brazil in the final. France also hosted the 1938 World Cup and the 1984 European Championships.

Italy, which had its bid championed by former AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini, hosted the European Championship in 1968 and the World Cup in 1934 and 1990. Turkey has never hosted a major championship.

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