A new summer marathon or another german soccer debacle: before the showdown in the explosive duel with turkey for the 2024 european championship, philipp lahm and reinhard grindel have retreated to a noble golf resort in the country of the new world champion.
On the french side, just a few kilometers from lake geneva, the double-header of the 21-strong DFB delegation prepared for their final european championship pitch to the UEFA delegates with final rehearsals of their speeches. The german delegation on thursday also includes national coach joachim low, bayern boss karl-heinz rummenigge and ex-team boss rudi voller.
Storms such as the ever smoldering debate about mesut ozil or the brash tone of turkish president recep tayyip erdogan should definitely be left out of the equation after almost five years of bidding on the home straight. "I believe that germany has submitted a very good, comprehensive, serious, but also creative application. We’ve been working on this for a long time in the association," said low, who, like european championship ambassador lahm and integration ambassador celia sasic, will present the DFB candidacy to the 16 or 17 UEFA delegates on thursday.
"We offer political and economic stability, we have a sustainability concept and we have the experience in organizing major tournaments," DFB chief grindel told the deutsche presse-agentur, describing precisely the points that rival turkey, which last failed three times with a european championship bid, lacks from the DFB’s perspective.
When UEFA president aleksander ceferin opens the traditional winner’s envelope at the european soccer union’s headquarters in nyon, switzerland, it should say GERMANY and not TURKEY on the paper. "If we win, UEFA can be sure that we will have a EURO in 2024 that will further the development of football in europe and be an unforgettable experience for all fans," said grindel shortly before the award ceremony.
The DFB goes into the vote as the favorite. But nothing has been decided yet. A very close outcome is expected, UEFA sources said on wednesday. Forecasts have not always been confirmed at the ballot box, not only in politics but also in the world of soccer. Gianni infantino entered the race for the post of FIFA boss as head of the club. Qatar was not on anyone’s radar in the scandal-ridden FIFA vote for the 2022 world cup.
Caution is therefore required for the DFB. Especially since the UEFA delegates vote by secret ballot and election promises could therefore also be cancelled at short notice. On the eve of the award, it also became known that the DFB had reported to UEFA the alleged death of the dutchman michael van praag, who had traveled to turkey against the rules. The actually hoped-for vote of the elector from holland now seems more than questionable.
It is still unclear whether ECA boss andrea agnelli will take part in the election. A private matter could have prevented this, it was said from UEFA circles. Agnelli, as rummenigge’s former deputy on the club’s board, is regarded as more of a germany selector. In the event of a stalemate, UEFA regulations stipulate that ceferin’s vote will be the deciding factor – at least the DFB can be sure of his vote.
DFB hopes are also pinned on the UEFA evaluation report, which sees germany at an advantage in the important points of stadium construction, economic stability and human rights, which were included as a criterion for the first time. The turkish plus is, of all people, president erdogan, who is so controversial in germany. Turkish state guarantees and tax breaks exceed promises from berlin.
Shortly before the european championship, which coincides with the start of his state visit to berlin, erdogan went further and demanded a "fair assessment". "Turkey meets all the necessary requirements for a successful tournament," he said in an interview with the funke mediengruppe. UEFA need not fear economic risks: "the rumors about turkey’s economic situation do not correspond to the truth."
At the beginning of september, grindel had already made an unusually sharp statement: "we have of course pointed out that our competitors from turkey guarantee pretty much everything that is not nailed down," he said on ZDF television.
In the final spurt, erdogan also brought up the long-standing topic of ozil once again and defended the former world champion, whom he has known for years, for the joint photos that overshadowed the whole bloody german world cup summer. The ensuing debate about racism, however, was hardly allowed to have any significance in the awarding of the european championship, nor was the world cup affair about the 2006 summer championship, which has still not been clarified – the DFB hopes.
"The president of UEFA has thankfully said that there will be no repercussions because all the members of the executive committee know that the new management of the DFB stands for transparency, good governance and compliance," stressed grindel.
An EM-K.O. Exactly three months to the day after the historic first-round exit from the world cup, this was a real blow for grindel, and one that would even make his future as DFB boss very questionable. But if everything goes according to plan for the DFB, lahm will take up his new job on friday as head organizer of the first european championship tournament in germany since 1988.
The ten venues have been fixed for a long time. In berlin, munich, dusseldorf, hamburg, leipzig, koln, stuttgart, dortmund, gelsenkirchen and frankfurt were played 2024. In addition to dusseldorf, only stadiums were selected that were also used for the 2006 world cup. For permanent national coach low, the memory of his first event at the DFB is the main driving force. A home tournament is "the nicest thing" after all.