Government throws weight behind Euro 2008 bid
The Swiss government has pledged financial support for a joint bid with Austria to stage the European football championships in 2008.
The cabinet earmarked a total of SFr3.5 million ($2.1 million) for infrastructure and security at four football stadiums.
Part of the funds is also destined for a national sports awareness campaign and for services provided by the armed forces, mainly to back up police and for transport.
The cabinet made its contribution dependent on a financial contribution of SFr7 million from the country's 26 cantons. Parliament is due to decide on the federal credit later this year.
The minister for sport, Samuel Schmid, said on Wednesday that Switzerland as a whole would benefit if it was awarded the event in 2008 together with neighbouring Austria.
It would give a boost to the country's economy and sport in general, Schmid added. He also pointed out that the event would help promote Switzerland's image abroad.
Schmid said the government would not provide a deficit guarantee for Euro 2008. The overall cost of the event is estimated at SFr120 million.
Heinz Keller of the Federal Office for Sports confirmed that the Swiss government's financial contribution was modest compared to the SFr60 million in funds provided by the Austrian government.
"Switzerland will have four new football stadiums in Basel, Geneva, Bern and Zurich regardless of whether Euro 2008 comes to Switzerland. But Austria will have to build an additional ground, especially for the event. This is very expensive," Keller told swissinfo.
He admitted big events such as the Olympic Games, world or European championships had taken on huge dimensions, and called for a new philosophy: "The future will show if small can also be beautiful."
Schmid said a joint bid with Austria was the only realistic option to organise Euro 2008. European football's governing body, UEFA, is due to decide on the venue of the championships next December.
Scotland, Hungary and joint Scandinavian consortium are also in the running to host the championships.
In 1954 Switzerland staged the football world championships, which were won by Germany at Bern's Wankdorf stadium.
by Urs Geiser
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