SPORTS

Final stretch for Euro 2008

The moment of truth for Greece’s joint bid with Turkey to co-host the Euro 2008 nations soccer event finally arrives tomorrow afternoon when UEFA officials meet in Nyon, Switzerland, to vote for a host, or hosts, among a total of seven candidacies. Early optimism over the joint Greek-Turkish bid’s chance of succeeding, however, has weakened significantly over security concerns sparked by crowd violence that marred a first-leg UEFA Cup tie between Panathinaikos and Fenerbahce in Istanbul last month. In the return leg, in Athens, the Turkish club opted to travel without fans. Players were joined by some 150 officials. The Greek-Turkish bid, part of efforts being made to improve bilateral ties, is one of five joint candidacies proposed; the others are a four-way bid of Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway; Scotland and Ireland; Switzerland and Austria; and Croatia with Bosnia. The remaining bids come from Hungary and Russia. Russia, too, stands a slimmer chance following the recent siege of a Moscow theater by Chechen rebels and the death toll resulting from government forces’ intervention. According to sources, the four-member Nordic bid has gained ground, as has the joint Swiss-Austrian bid. Backed by eight ready-to-go stadiums as well as strong political support from respective governments, the Nordic bid has emerged as an early favorite for Euro 2008. The Swiss and Austrians are heavily promoting their central European location and sound security as comparative advantages.