France hopes Euro 2016 will help beat gloom

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Staging the European football championships in 2016 will help France to emerge from the economic crisis and general gloom that has been hanging over the country for two years, the country's sports minister said on Friday (28 May).

France, which staged the tournament in 1960 and 1984 and has also hosted two World Cups, beat Turkey and outsiders Italy in a UEFA vote last week.

"It is an answer of optimism. We will go through the economic crisis with economical, social and structural measures, but we will also go through the crisis thanks to the confidence a country has in itself, and a great sporting event can contribute to that confidence," said Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot.

France won the last two competitions it hosted: Euro 1984 and the 1998 World Cup.

"By choosing France, UEFA valued our country's ability to stage big international sporting events, to promote the values of sport and to welcome supporters," Prime Minister Francois Fillon said in a statement.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, who delivered a speech in Geneva before the vote, told reporters afterwards: "We will do our best so that the 24 nations are wonderfully welcome in France. We will start to work on the stadiums."

"I say to our Italian and Turkish friends that I feel sorry for them. They also built very, very good files," Sarkozy added.

Hosting the Euro 2016 finals is also set to secure 15,000 extra jobs in the country, with €1.7 billion to be invested in the stadiums' renovation.

"We will do our best so a sporting spirit prevails, so that French people see something else than the crisis' gloom. It is important," said Junior Sports Minister Rama Yade.

"There will also be economical repercussions because to build four stadiums and renovate eight, you need the building trade, the businesses."

(EURACTIV with Reuters.)

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