Sept 25 (Reuters) - Former Germany captain Philipp Lahm has backed the country to successfully host the 2024 European Championship if they are selected and said it could help them come closer together in the lead up to the event.
Lahm, who guided his country to the 2014 World Cup title, is a bid ambassador as the German candidacy competes with Turkey to host the continental competition. European soccer’s governing body UEFA is set to pick the winning bid on Thursday.
“You come together and that is one of the great things about football - it unites people from all different backgrounds and that is wonderful. That’s why we want to host the tournament,” Lahm told Reuters TV in London on Monday.
“We showed in the past that we can host big tournaments, we can organise, we have the stadiums, we have the infrastructure and we are friendly hosts. We like having guests in our country, we like being a host for a lot of different nations.”
Germany crashed out of the group stages of the World Cup in Russia this year and midfielder Mesut Ozil later quit the team citing “racism and disrespect” over his Turkish roots.
The Arsenal player’s decision caused plenty of debate in Germany which is witnessing a rise in protests opposing large scale immigration.
“I think it is not only a chance for Germany, but for Europe to move closer together and in the last few years we had the migration issue, not only in Germany, but across Europe,” Lahm added, further stressing the importance of Germany’s bid.
“Our campaign claim was ‘United by football’ and we believe the power of football is massive,” Germany’s bid chief Markus Stenger added.
“Therefore we want to show the world and we want to show Europe we all can celebrate together a fantastic fest, no matter which country you are coming from.” (Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru Editing by Christian Radnedge)