SPORTS

Greece considers Euro 2012 bid

Encouraged by the national soccer team’s sensational triumph at the European Championships in Portugal last summer and the country’s existing infrastructure following the Athens Olympics, Greece’s soccer federation chief and the government’s top sports officials indicated yesterday that the country was likely to bid for the Euro event in 2012. Greece and Turkey, as part of a wider effort to improve bilateral ties, had made a joint bid to host Euro 2008 but eventually lost out to two other co-bidders, Switzerland and Austria. Deputy Culture Minister Giorgos Orfanos, who holds the country’s sports portfolio, told reporters yesterday that no decision had yet been been reached, while adding that the matter was being contemplated. «You can call it a favorable mood that will be supported by all sides – government and EPO [Greek soccer federation] – for the formulation of an official bid,» Orfanos told local radio station Supersport FM. «The specific issue still hasn’t been discussed with the prime minister. But he has expressed a wider interest for [the country] to compete for events… The objective is to succeed, not just place a bid,» Orfanos added. Orfanos is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis today to discuss Greece’s possible bid for the Euro 2012 soccer event and various other sporting issues. The deputy minister, who made the radio comments following a meeting with Vassilis Gagatsis, the soccer federation’s chief, noted that the cost of staging Euro 2012 would remain minimal as a result of Greece’s existing Olympics-related soccer stadiums. The deputy minister contended that, at this stage, Greece lacked just one stadium to meet organizer standards. «Eight stadiums are needed. We have two in Athens, two in Thessaloniki, and three provincial facilities. We’re not talking about the same sort of costs as the Olympic Games,» remarked Orfanos. «We already possess the majority of required facilities, which simply need certain amendments,» he added. Commenting on Greece’s probable Euro 2012 bid, Theodoros Theodoridis, deputy chief of ground management at UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, said the national team’s triumph in Portugal and the country’s success at organizing the Olympics would bolster the effort to bring the European Championships to Greece. Theodoridis warned that, with several traditional European soccer powers expected to place bids, the competition for Euro 2012 would be intense. Interest in the 2012 event, Theodoridis explained, was heightened as a result of Germany’s successful bid to stage the upcoming World Cup finals in 2006. This, he said, has led to uncertainty among other traditional Continental soccer giants over how long it would take for the World Cup finals to return to Europe. As a rule, FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, seeks to stage the World Cup finals in various parts of the world to help promote the sport. The African continent, where the premier soccer event has never been held before, is widely considered to be a prime candidate for an imminent World Cup event. With the 2008 Euro event, then, already taken by Austria and Switzerland, the bidding for its successor in 2012 should, no doubt, be toughly contested.