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Organisers whet nation's Euro 2008 appetite

The team behind the 2008 European football championships, which Switzerland is co-hosting with Austria, has launched a new campaign to spark the nation's interest.

More than 100 representatives from towns across Switzerland came to a Federal Sports Office workshop in canton Bern on Monday to hear about the planned projects and initiatives.

The organisers of the quadrennial competition, which will take place from June 7-29 2008 in four Swiss and four Austrian stadia, said the aim was to whip up the atmosphere and the enjoyment preceding the big event.

They want the entire country to be involved in the preparations and to get people behind the general promotion of sport.

The initiatives set out at the workshop in Magglingen were backed by the Public Hand Uefa Euro 2008 organising team, the Swiss Sports Museum and the Swiss Football Association.

A touring exhibition is called "1924 – We'll get the title back", harking back to Swiss football's finest hour when the country were runners-up to Uruguay in the 1924 Olympic Games.

Another initiative is a road show by the Swiss Football Association, whose red and white lorry will roll through all 26 cantons early next year, stopping for a day in towns and cities and providing games and information for all the family.

In addition, the bilingual school project "Fair Play Euro Schools 2008" will give more than 400 schools in Switzerland and Austria the chance to look into the various cultures represented in Euro 2008.

The organisers also hope to motivate five- to ten-year-olds to get more exercise outside obligatory sports lessons. To this end, 500 sports courses for around 10,000 children are planned.

Over the coming weeks individual communities will decide if and in what way Euro 2008 will be celebrated.

Advertising

A report earlier in November said companies risked missing out on a lucrative image boost by taking too long to decide how to use Euro 2008 to market their brand.

Experts warned that firms might be wary of the high costs of commercial links with the high-profile competition and the stringent rules to prevent "ambush" - non-paying - marketing.

Nearly two-thirds of Swiss companies surveyed for a "sponsorship barometer" report by German consultancy group Sport und Markt were interested in using the tournament to promote their brand, but had yet to set the wheels in motion.

Only 18 per cent of firms had formally started their marketing campaign.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

SFr182 million ($147 million) of Swiss public funds has been earmarked so far for Euro 2008.
The largest single amount – SFr64.4 million – will be spent on security.
SFr18 million is going to upgrade stadium infrastructure in the four host cities – Basel, Zurich, Bern and Geneva.
A further SFr24.7 million will be used for marketing.
The tournament is expected to bring in SFr500 million to Switzerland.

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