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France set to stage a bigger Euro 2016

France will become the first host of a 24-team European Championships after winning the vote for Euro 2016 by the narrowest of margins ahead of Turkey.

UEFA's executive committee, being chaired by Britain's Geoff Thompson, voted seven votes to six in favour of France.

Italy limped home a distant third after being eliminated in the first round of voting. The outcome left Turkey distraught and suspicious of the influence of UEFA's French president Michel Platini, but for the winners there was jubilation.

Jean-Pierre Escalettes, president of the French Football Federation, said: “This is a beautiful day for us.

“It is a moment of intense emotion to know that in 2016 France will welcome European football and will fulfil its promises. What counts for us is to have the full confidence of UEFA and this trust will not be betrayed.”

Thompson was chairing the committee as UEFA's second vice-president as both Platini and the first vice-president Senes Erzik of Turkey were compromised by their countries' involvement.

Had the secret ballot ended all square then Thompson would have had to use a casting vote to decide the contest. That would effectively have publicly declared his allegiance and could have been problematic for England's 2018 World Cup bid, of which Thompson was last week appointed chairman. Thompson was spared that and so has avoided giving offence to any would-be supporters for 2018.

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Spain/Portugal are a big rival for England 2018, and it is thought their representatives on UEFA backed both horses — Spain's Angel Villar Llona going for Turkey and Portugal's Gilberto Madail for France.

Euro 2016 will be the first time that 24 countries will contest the event, up from 16 in 2012, and will see a major tournament return to France after the World Cup in 1998. Platini admitted the contest had put him in a difficult situation — he is French, but of Italian descent and played for Juventus. 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.”


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