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Happy hosts

Big crowds and some strong Swiss performances made the under-21 tournament a success Keystone

The Swiss football association believes its chances of hosting the 2008 European Championships have been boosted by the success of this month's under-21 event.

The 13-day junior tournament, which culminated in the Czech Republic’s 3-1 penalty triumph over France in Basel on Tuesday, attracted total crowds of more than 150,000.

The performance of the home team was responsible for a good deal of the ticket sales, with Bernard Challandes’ Swiss side exceeding all expectations to reach the semi-finals.

“We are very happy of course,” Swiss FA president Ralph Zloczower told swissinfo, “because the tournament showed that the Swiss public are very interested in football.”

Joint bid with Austria

Zloczower was forced to miss both Switzerland’s appearance in Saturday’s semi-final and Tuesday’s final because of the FIFA congress in Seoul, but he said he was sure that the Swiss team’s achievements would also help the country’s joint bid with Austria to stage the senior European Championships in six years’ time.

“I think that will be very important,” Zlocower explained, “because we have demonstrated to the officials at (European football’s governing body) UEFA that we have a good development structure for our young players, and are starting to enjoy some successes in this area.”

Six rival teams

Switzerland and Austria are facing competition from six rival bids, comprising Russia, Hungary, Turkey/Greece, Bosnia/Croatia, Ireland/Scotland and Denmark/Finland/Norway/Sweden.

UEFA is scheduled to determine the venue for the 2008 championships in a vote on December 12.

by Mark Ledsom

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR