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Brazilian fever reaches shores of Lake Lucerne

The Brazilian theme is much in evidence in Weggis Keystone

Weggis, a small Swiss town on Lake Lucerne has undergone a transformation to host the Brazilian football team for its pre-World Cup preparations.

This content was published on May 24, 2006 - 14:31

The defending champions, including superstar Ronaldinho, arrived in Switzerland for two weeks of training before the competition gets underway in Germany.

Not only does Weggis have a brand new stadium, but the normally tranquil town of 3,886 residents seems to have gone Brazil-crazy.

The country's flags are everywhere while shops and restaurants have put out signs in Portuguese.

All of the town's hotels are nearly fully booked, mostly with fans and members of the Brazilian and international press.

The Brazilian stars themselves have booked out the 43 rooms in the Park Hotel, the only five-star establishment in Weggis. The hotel has developed a strong security system to keep out those hoping for a glimpse of their favourite team.

"Apart from having television cameras in all the parts of the hotel, we can close the doors and entrances at the press of a button if an alarm goes off," said the hotel's deputy manager, Philipp Musshafen.

Weggis was chosen from more than 40 offers around the world, including locations in France and the United Arab Emirates.

Team representatives praised the central Swiss town as a calm and beautiful location, but financial considerations are also said to have played a role.

Perks

Apart from not paying anything to use the new stadium, the Brazilian Football Federation stands to make $1.2 million (SFr1.44 million) from a deal with Swiss sport marketing agency Attaro.

The company told swissinfo that it is being allowed to organise two friendly matches - with a local team and New Zealand – in Switzerland. A move that is likely to earn Attaro around SFr15 million in revenue from tickets, advertising and transmission rights.

The tickets are already sold out.

One of the biggest changes for Weggis, however, is the new stadium, which has been purposely built for the five-time cup champions.

This was because the old stadium, which was the home of the local football team – currently in the fifth division – was deemed unsuitable for the Brazilian champions.

A SFr5-million overhaul was paid for by Dominic Steiner, owner of Thermoplan, a local coffee machine company, and the site is now includes a 5,000-seat arena, a media centre and other facilities,

For Steiner, it was an opportunity to good to be passed up. "The television cameras won't just show the stars of the Brazilian team, but also our logo, the brand and also our company building," he added.

Cashing in

It's also clear that everyone else in Weggis is hoping to cash in from the famous footballers in their midst.

Four of the region's tourism offices have clubbed together to offer packages for other football teams – national or local - wanting to follow the footsteps of the Brazilian Seleçao.

For its part, the Park Hotel has already put the rooms used by the likes of Ronaldinho and Ronaldo up for auction on eBay.

They will be available in two weeks' time, after the team has left for Germany. At the online auction, which started on May 15, the asking price is SFr200 per room.

swissinfo

Key facts

The Brazilian team will be in Weggis from May 22-June 4.
The other teams in Switzerland are: Germany, Iran, Ukraine and Tunisia.
14 training sessions and the two friendly matches are open to the public.
The matches are with FC Lucerne (May 30) and New Zealand (June 4).
The World Cup starts on June 9.

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