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Sarkozy clinches Euro 2016 for France

 From right: French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Jean-Pierre Escalettes, President of the French soccer Federation, young Nathan, Frederic Thiriez, Pres...

Switzerland Soccer Euro 2016 Vote

From right: French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Jean-Pierre Escalettes, President of the French soccer Federation, young Nathan, Frederic Thiriez, Pres...

President Nicolas Sarkozy praised France's vanquished rivals like a conquering hero, offering Europe a financial guarantee for its 2016 football championship and posing for photographs.
The balloting had yet to start Friday, and it seemed France would have just enough support to beat Italy and Turkey for the right to host the Euro 2016.
The suspicion was strengthened when Sarkozy retook his seat beside Michel Platini, accepting a hearty handshake from the president of European football's governing body UEFA, and spoke into the ear of his fellow Frenchman like an old confidante.
An hour later, France's win was confirmed by a slim 7-6 vote over Turkey.
Using the Olympics strategy that worked for Britain's Tony Blair, Russia's Vladimir Putin and Brazil's Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, Sarkozy charmed UEFA's voting delegates and personally guaranteed the new stadiums, hotel upgrades and other promises that accompanied France's multi-billion euro (dollar) bid.
Accompanied by the legendary footballer Zinedine Zidane, Sarkozy said economic hardship wouldn't hinder preparations. His engagement came in stark contrast to the perceived aloofness of his predecessor Jacques Chirac in Singapore five years ago, when Blair and David Beckham met individually with the voters as Britain upset France to win the 2012 Summer Games.
"I'm sure every country asked why _ because of the crisis, deficits and problems," Sarkozy said of hosting the Euro and assuming the financial responsibility. "But we in France see sport as a response to the crisis."
Turkish President Abdullah Gul also pitched his country's credentials in Geneva, though his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi stayed away.
Turkey's portrayed its bid as a chance to exploit a rapidly growing football market and had the obvious political overtones of moving the country closer to its neighbors, and to European Union membership.
Still, France maintained a number of clear advantages: magnificent rail connections through much of the country, world-class hotels and hospitality groups, and the lure of a Paris final.
After UEFA's goodwill tour goes to Poland and Ukraine in 2012, it will be in need of a surefire moneymaker. Turkey can't yet offer that, and Italy has been the European economy's wounded old man for too long. France says it can deliver a (EURO)500 million ($617 million) profit for UEFA.
Gul said UEFA had "the opportunity to take a historic decision and to build a new bridge between Europe and the broader geography in which Turkey is located."
He promised that the event in Turkey would bring in fans from the Middle East, southeast Asia and the Caucasus, and said the European championship was the "long-standing dream of 72 million Turkish people."
"We have proved that we are compatible with Europe in every sense," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan added in a taped message.
But it was as if all three bidding nations read from the same public relations textbook: Turkey presented its candidature through a teenager, Italy via a youth delegation and France, finally, with a 10-year-old moderator.
France gave a presentation bilingually titled "Football as we love it," venturing audiovisually into the language of Shakespeare and outlining a plan for new stadiums in Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon and Nice. It will also upgrade grounds in Marseille, Strasbourg and Paris.
Sarkozy provided personality to the sterile ceremony of rehearsed routines and false familiarity, ending the pre-vote ceremony with vigor. He congratulated Italy and Turkey for their efforts, and then explained why he was in Geneva.
"The French state is here to support and guarantee that everything we have said, we will live up to," Sarkozy said. "If you give me the Euro 2016, it will make me very happy and we'll be engaged to ensure that it's a success."