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'It's special to host this tournament'

UEFA EURO 2024 tournament director and Germany legend Philipp Lahm can’t wait to see his country enjoy playing host once more.

 UEFA EURO 2024 tournament director Philipp Lahm
UEFA EURO 2024 tournament director Philipp Lahm UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

When it comes to hosting major football tournaments, Germany have been there and done it – and they back themselves to do it well again. In recent years, the fan experience at Bundesliga matches has been admired far and wide, and nobody doubts that EURO 2024 has a host country that is serious about providing a stage that will be a success on and off the pitch. EURO 2024's tournament director is legendary German defender Philipp Lahm.

"For Germany and for the people in Germany, it’s always special to be allowed to host a tournament. We always like to look back on 2006 and how the [FIFA] World Cup brought us closer together," Lahm explained. "But we also welcomed others to our country, too. We plan to replicate that but update it for the current times. It’s a great opportunity for Germany to show what we stand for, that everybody is welcome, that we stand for diversity. In modern times, it isn’t always easy, but we want to represent this in 2024."

Bringing people together

Germany may not have won the tournament in 2006 but, against a backdrop of good weather and a wider country that felt the economic benefit of welcoming visitors to its host cities, they enjoyed a run to the semi-final that excited the home crowd. Large screens showed matches at outdoor venues as fans saw Italy reach the final in Berlin and overcome France, with Germany winning the third-place play-off. As well as sparking greater interest in the game in Germany, the infrastructure of football in the country benefited from improvements in stadiums that made them among the most modern in the world.

Watch Philipp Lahm's best EURO moments

"As the tournament director, I of course want to see a great German team, but also to witness a great atmosphere and a safe EURO," he said. "At such a tournament, lots of people come together and cheer together, and celebrate football and great games, too. What’s important are also the personal connections to others, like the volunteers, and the people who come to Germany. I always like to look back on 2006, how many people assembled for public screenings and celebrated together, regardless of where they came from, what their skin colour was or what religion they followed.

"The people come together and celebrate together and have fun together, that is very special and the EURO can offer this opportunity – especially with Germany in the centre of Europe and being so easy to travel to," he added. "I think this will be a great experience for all spectators."

Home advantage

The UEFA European Championship has a notable history in Germany. The 2020 edition was hosted in 11 countries, and Munich was proud to stage all three of Germany’s Group F matches as well as Italy’s quarter-final victory against Belgium. Further back, West Germany welcomed Europe’s best to eight venues in 1988, when Franz Beckenbauer’s side finished top of Group 1 but fell to eventual champions the Netherlands in the semi-finals.

The Netherlands' Marco van Basten scored a famous winner against West Germany in Hamburg in 1988.
The Netherlands' Marco van Basten scored a famous winner against West Germany in Hamburg in 1988.©Getty Images

"I think it’s a great advantage; it can spur you along," said Lahm. "The home team has to excite the home crowd first, but it’s also the other way round, of course. There will be great support, and the players also know the stadiums and the cities. Of course, it’s great to be cheered on in the stadium, especially if a game is drawing to a close and is on a knife-edge. It’s really special for a player to play a tournament at home. It’s not something you experience very often."

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