The sports minister, Adolf Ogi, has signed a SFr9 million government contract ($5.4 million) to subsidise the building of two new football stadiums in Basel and Geneva.This content was published on December 18, 2000 - 08:42
The money has been handed over as part of a new initiative to improve or replace the country's ageing football grounds.
The Football Association and the government are also hoping that the new facilities will help persuade their Austrian counterparts to join Switzerland in a joint bid for the European Championships in 2008.
Work is already well under way on the two sites. The Geneva stadium will be able to hold 30,000 spectators while the St Jakob stadium in Basel will have a capacity of 33,000.
Three more planned stadiums in Bern, Zurich and Lausanne are also due to receive government support.
The signing ceremony followed a weekend visit by Ogi to Austria, where he held talks with his Austrian counterpart and with the president of the Austrian Football Association.
After the meetings, Ogi said he was confident that Austria would favour a partnership with Switzerland at the expense of a rival Hungarian bid. "I believe the Austrians feel that they would have a better chance with us," the minister said.
The Football Association has also held its own talks with the Austrians, but told swissinfo on Monday that it did not know when a final decision would be taken.
swissinfo with agencies
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