As all grand finals should, the 2018/19 A-League decider loomed as a tight and unpredictable affair. Both Perth Glory and Sydney FC had every reason to believe they would prevail at Optus Stadium.
France were named as hosts of Euro 2016 by UEFA president Michel Platini on Friday, the French bid beating off strong opposition from the two other candidates – Turkey and Italy.
France prevailed with seven of the 13 votes cast by UEFA’s executive committee members in the second round of voting, edging Turkey by one vote.
France’s candidacy was supported by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who had spoken out in its favour at the final round of presentations to UEFA delegates in Geneva earlier Friday.
Jean-Pierre Escalettes, president of the French Football Federation, in his first reaction, paid tribute to the two losing bidders.
“I have a thought for our friends in Turkey and Italy – putting myself in their place I can imagine their disappointment and frustration after months and months of work.
“Good luck to Italian and Turkish football.
He added: “I am overwhelmed to think that France will welcome European football in 2016.
“The (UEFA) executive committee members appreciated our efforts, they put confidence in us. What counts is to have UEFA’s confidence, this trust will not be betrayed. This is a great day for us!”
The decision came as a welcome fillip after a year that has seen French football mired in controversy over Thierry Henry’s handball in the World Cup play-off against the Republic of Ireland.
The Turkish bid was supported by the presence of their country’s president, Abdullah Gul, while Italy were represented by Sports Minister Rocco Crimi.
For Turkey this was the third consecutive time they had suffered the heartache of missing out after losing the right to stage Euro 2008 to Switzerland and Austria and 2012 to Ukraine and Poland.
Italy were knocked out of the hunt in the first round of voting in which France obtained 43 points on UEFA’s ‘barometer’, with Turkey on 38 and Italy on 23.
France, hosts of the 1998 World Cup, are two-time European champions, winning in 1984 and 2000.
Their winning bid for 2016 consisted of 12 venues – the Stade de France where France defeated Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final, Paris Saint Germain’s Parc des Princes, Lens, Lille, Bordeaux, Nice, Toulouse, Marseille, Lyon, Strasbourg, Saint Etienne and Nancy.
Euro 2016 will be the first European championships to feature 24 teams, eight more than the Euro 2012.