The Euro 2016 football championships have kicked off in Paris and Switzerland are once again the most multicultural of the 24 teams taking part. Of the 23-man squad and manager, only nine do not have a so-called migration background.
After sitting out the 2012 tournament (they failed to qualify), the boys in red and white are back on the European stage and boasting talent born in countries including Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Kosovo.
If managers are included, Switzerland and France both have 15 team members with a migration background – although Switzerland have twice the number of players who were born abroad than France, according to data from online bookmaker NetBet.
While a third of the Swiss squad do not have an immigration background, another third hails from the former Yugoslavia. Four players alone have roots in Kosovo, which became a full member of UEFA, European football’s governing body, on May 3. What this will mean for Switzerland remains to be seen. Indeed, in an unusual situation, there will probably be two players with “Xhaka” on their shirt in the first match on Saturday: Granit will be playing for Switzerland while his brother Taulant will be playing for opponents Albania.
So how does this multiculturalism convert into winning chances? In their previous three Euro appearances (1996, 2004 and 2008) Switzerland never made it out of the group stage. While this time they should make it out of their relatively easy group (they drew France, Romania and Albania), the bookmakers are making them 66-1 to lift the trophy on July 10.
The Swiss squad
Manager: Vladimir Petkovic
Goalkeepers: Yann Sommer, Roman Bürki, Marwin Hitz
Defenders: Johan Djourou, Nico Elvedi, Michael Lang, Stephan Lichtsteiner, François Moubandje, Ricardo Rodriguez, Fabian Schär, Steve von Bergen
Midfielders: Valon Behrami, Blerim Dzemaili, Gelson Fernandes, Fabian Frei, Granit Xhaka, Denis Zakaria
Forwards: Eren Derdiyok, Breel Embolo, Admir Mehmedi, Xherdan Shaqiri, Haris Seferovic, Shani Tarashaj